OPI Pro Spotlight: @nailsxbellaluna
Meet Nicole, a student, and our June PRO Spotlight pick. In less than a year and a half, she went from having no income to running her own nail business—and it all began with discovering full coverage tips on Tiktok! Intrigued, Nicole taught herself how to do nails and soon started to accept clients. Today, she works from her home studio in Los Angeles and displays her clean, neutral aesthetic on her Instagram, @nailsxbellaluna. Read on to learn about this pro’s quick entry into the nail industry, her reasons for loving full coverage tips, and her favorite OPI neutrals.
OPI: Tell us about why you became a nail tech, and how you went on to open your own home studio?
Nicole: My nail journey started in early 2021 when Covid had just hit, I was home because school was officially online and at the time I was not employed. I remember telling my sister that I really wanted to develop a new hobby, open a boutique, and do lashes, at that point, I thought about everything. I wanted to do something that would keep me busy and help generate income, all while being able to do something I loved. One night I was scrolling through TikTok and I came across a nail artist who specialized in full coverage tips. I remember being amused because at the time I really didn’t know what full coverage tips were. In my community acrylics are very common so full coverage tips were definitely very new and I was intrigued. With nail salons being shut down I thought what if I did nails? I’ve always been pretty crafty. I love arts and crafts and designing my own things so I knew that I was going to love doing nails. I Immediately went on to YouTube university and began researching full coverage tips and dissecting what it was and how to do it. After watching endless videos on YouTube and on TikTok I decided to give it a shot. I ordered my nail kit and a few polishes off of Amazon and the second I received my package I knew I was going to love this. I started practicing on myself, my sister, and my mom and weeks later started taking in clients. I was working on clients in a small corner of my bedroom, and as I began working more and buying more products I knew that working in my small bedroom was not going to cut it anymore. So I asked my dad if he could help build me a studio behind our home and the rest was history!
OPI: Your manicures are so clean and have such a beautiful neutral focused aesthetic! What do you love most about that style?
Nicole: Aw, thank you! I’ve always loved neutral nails, so when I was working on reaching a certain audience and building my clientele, I knew I wanted to work with more neutral aesthetics rather than designs that were bold. I love working with neutral manicures because they’re perfect and suit everyone’s skin tone. Sometimes it can be a little challenging to achieve a clean neutral manicure because of the base polish we are using. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, my favorite polishes to use to achieve a clean neutral manicure are Put it in Neutral and Bare my Soul. They’re the perfect polishes for this look and suit every skin tone, they’re definitely a staple in my collection. I honestly wouldn’t be able to achieve this warm clean look without them.
OPI: What styles and shades are you most looking forward to doing in the upcoming summer months?
Nicole: Summer calls for fun late nights, sunshine, tropical vacations, and of course, this season calls for more color! I am excited to see all of the colors and styles that are going to be popular this season. I definitely feel like people are going to have a bit more fun with their nail sets and I am all for it! I’m looking forward to seeing more oranges, greens, yellows, and peachy colors! I think colorful French Tips are definitely going to be popular with some fun abstract designs!
OPI: We know you focus on full coverage tipsnails. What about them do you like most? Do you have any application tips for other pros looking to offer these services?
Nicole: I love how simple this system is because there are no harsh chemicals and no crazy smells. When I first started working with full coverage tips, I was amazed at how we only really needed a few products to create a beautiful set. We need our dehydrator, primer, soft gel, and our tips! But, let’s not forget about the most important factor in making these babies look flawless, a good gel polish. My holy grail is Put it in Neutral, it truly completes my sets!
This system is perfect for any pros that want to offer a new service. My biggest tip when working with full coverage tips is to have patience. Working with soft gel extensions can feel very new. Always work with a light hand and apply a small amount of soft gel to adhere your tips, it’s always better to use less product and build with more if needed. In the beginning, my biggest flaw was adding too much soft gel when applying my tips. This caused over-flooding in the cuticle area and behind the nail, which is something you do not want. Perfecting your application is so important, but it takes time.
OPI: Your social media pages are so stunning! What advice would you give to other nail techs looking to grow their social presence?
Nicole: Thank you! Social Media is so important in today's society as it is free and everyone is using it to advertise, showcase and inspire others. After burning a million brain cells and self-teaching myself a new skill, I knew I had to use this same platform to get myself out there. I was able to build my aesthetic by just staying true to myself. When designing my business I really focused on finding myself. In finding “me,” I would do a million and one Target runs, home inspiration has always been a natural-born favorite. Who doesn’t love a good Target run right? Anyways, I knew that things wouldn’t look good if it weren’t for a good picture or video. I thought hard, how do I pull an audience? Then thought, duh! By taking cute pictures. I knew that things needed to look pretty to catch people's attention so I continuously worked hard on finding apps to edit my photos and videos. Doing so has really worked wonders for my business and I always get compliments on how pretty my photos look. If you’re looking to grow your social media presence my biggest advice is to create a page that is aesthetically pleasing and true to you. Also, post on every platform possible! TikTok is amazing and has opened many opportunities for my small business.
OPI: What's your favorite, must-have nail tool?
Nicole: My favorite must-have nail tool definitely has to be my cuticle nippers. I’ve grown to love this tool, it truly makes the whole set. Nail prep is essential to a flawless application, the nail area needs to be cleaned, trimmed, and cut to ensure a perfect canvas. Having clean cuticles just looks so much better. I remember every time I went to the nail salon they never used to cut my cuticles and I would come out of the salon with dry and fragile cuticles. Ugh! It was my biggest pet peeve, so I knew that providing a dry manicure for my clients was essential, it’s honestly my favorite step.
OPI: Where do you see yourself in the nail industry in the next 5-10 years?
Nicole: In the next 5-10 years, I see my business booming and expanding. I hope to finally get myself a private studio so that I can offer more services, such as structured manicures, pedicures, and maybe even acrylics. Lastly, I definitely plan on expanding my education to continue learning.
OPI: What shade from our new #OPIPowerOfHue Summer 22' collection are you most excited to use on your clients?
Nicole: The Power of Hue Summer collection is definitely a hit! I was lucky enough to receive a few polishes, thank you so much OPI! My favorite shade from this collection is “The Future is You.” It’s a soft nude with a hint of shimmer. It’s perfect for all my neutral babes and we can not overlook how perfectly the polish was named. This shade is me in polish and I love it!
Don't forget to follow Nicole aka @nailsxbellaluna on Instagram for more inspiration.
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