Pro Spotlight: Queenie Nguyen
Meet the legendary @nailartbyqueenie! We took the time to connect with her on tips, advice, where she draws her inspiration from, and even what she's doing with extra time at home to brush up on her skills. Read on to get the full story below.
OPI: Hi Queenie! We're so excited to be connecting with you, can you start by telling us how you got started in your career as a nail tech?
QN: I started doing nails when I was 17 years old, I attended High School during the day and Cosmetology School at night simultaneously. My whole family works in the nail industry and one of my aunts even owns a nail salon in Los Angeles, so I was lucky to be able to have the additional knowledge from family and a place to learn and practice. I officially got my license when I was 17 and have worked as a professional nail technician ever since. I love watching how passionate my mom and my aunts are at nails, and it inspired me to pursue the same career path.
OPI: That's so great to hear about how you got started, we love your work! Can you tell us a bit about where you find inspiration for your nail art?
QN: I’ve always loved to paint, ever since I was in High School. I loved painting with acrylics and oil paints, and my favorite type of art back then was Surrealism. There’s something so mysterious about Surrealism that kept my curiosity going. Even now, besides nail polish, I love to use Acrylic paint on nails. As time has gone on though, I’m slowly growing more interested in contemporary art too. I find a lot of my inspiration on creative platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, online magazines, and even editorial publications. I’m usually drawn to unique patterns, color palettes, and classic and modern fashion trends.
OPI: We see tons of nail trends coming from fashion. What's one nail art trend you think will never go out of style?
QN: French manicures. Personally, the french manicure is a fundamental part of my career, I’ve been providing this style to clients for the last 11 years! I've really enjoyed watching the trend evolve recently into something more modern for the younger generation, yet it's still managed to stay classic for the earlier generation too. It is such a versatile trend that I really enjoy customizing for clients based on their interest in colors, shapes, lengths, etc.
OPI: We've seen some amazing French tips on your feed! How impactful has social media been to help leverage your career?
QN: I use social media a lot in my career. I think it is important for an artist to be able to showcase their work, and Instagram is a vital marketing platform in today’s world. I always make a point of posting on my Instagram almost every single day in order to not only show my work but also to connect with my followers. I appreciate each comment, each like and each direct message from clients and followers. It makes me extremely happy to see recreations from other artists inspired by my own work, and I too find inspiration from other artists for my art.
OPI: What about when working with clients, do you have any advice on how to ensure they leave satisfied?
QN: When working with clients, I usually ensure that they’re happy during each step of the process. I make sure the clients are happy with the length and shape for example, before finishing with polish and nail art. In terms of nail art, my clients and I tend to send each other inspirations via Instagram direct message and we discuss it before their appointment so that I can be sure I have the color and materials that they’re looking for. I think communication is the key to clients’ satisfaction.
OPI: What is one of the most memorable events or shoots you've ever worked on?
QN: One of the most memorable events in my career that I had the opportunity to be a part of would be working backstage during New York Fashion Week in 2019. It was a wonderful experience because I got to meet and befriend so many other amazing and talented artists from all around the world. It really opened my eyes to additional creative outlets, and New York City has so much to offer in terms of inspiration from art and fashion, so it definitely was an unforgettable experience in my career.
OPI: That sounds so memorable! Do you have any tips you would give nail techs trying to learn how to do nail art?
QN: I think practice makes perfect. Anything can be achieved with determination and practice. I would recommend watching a lot of different tutorials online and to start with the simpler nail art first. Then, once you’re comfortable, slowly move onto designs with more extended techniques. Practice on yourself, on your friends and family, and even on fake nails.
OPI: Where do you typically find educational content, or assistance learning something new like nail art or other techniques?
QN: I love to watch educational content from different brands via IGTV, Youtube, and other creative platforms that the brands might offer. I typically read magazine articles to keep up with the latest trends and techniques too. There are also workshops that I love to attend online or in-person to gain additional skills and practice. I usually find these workshops via social media or on Eventbrite.
OPI: What does nail self-care mean to you?
QN: I rarely wear gel polish on my natural nails. I actually did not start out my career with gel polish or acrylic products. I’ve always worked with natural nails and I love that style on myself as well. I usually use a strengthening base coat underneath any polish instead of wearing a regular base coat, and my main focus has always been to always keep my natural nails healthy so that I don’t need any additional enhancement or hard gel to keep my nails strong. I always like to give myself a manicure once a week to ensure that they’re in good shape, prevent staining, and to re-apply my nail strengthener on a weekly basis. I do a lot of nail art on my own nails for Instagram and therefore in between, I like to just wear the strengthener and leave them clear with no additional layers on top.
OPI: We know that times are pretty intense right now and that due to COVID-19, a lot of nail techs are currently at home instead of in a salon, what are some at-home activities you have been doing? Are you using this time to brush up on skills?
QN: During this time, I have been doing a lot of nail art on my own nails. I have also been creating different DIY tutorials on my Instagram account in order to help clients and followers who cannot make it to the salon, I've even created content for those in need of a gel removal at home. Other topics include how to shape nails and I've created some fun and simple nail art looks that require no additional tools. I want to be able to help others during this time and stay connected with people even across the screen. In addition, I also have been organizing my nail polishes at home and my kit so that when everything comes to a healthy ending, I’ll be prepared to be back to work.
OPI: Thanks so much for taking the time to connect with us, we are so happy to share your experiences. Is there anything else you'd like to share at this time?
QN: Last but not least, I want to use this time to focus on my own health as well to ensure that I’m healthy by the time I get to hold hands with my clients again.
You can follow Queenie Nguyen @nailartbyqueenie on Instagram to get tons of inspiration for your next creation. Be sure to follow us @OPI_Professionals and stay tuned for more Pro Spotlights coming soon.