OPI Pro Spotlight: @ricekittynails
May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! To celebrate, we’re introducing you to Diana, AKA @ricekittynails.
A Vietnamese-American pro nail artist, Diana creates fun, stunning designs and has a growing social media following. Below, she talks about her heritage, its influence on her career and nail art, and more.
OPI: How did you get started in the nail industry, and what sparked your interest?
Diana: In 2011, I discovered an interest in nail art as a hobby. It all started when I stumbled upon a YouTube video by Bubzbeauty titled "Cute Strawberry Nails". At the time, my nail polish collection was quite small, but fortunately, I happened to have the required colors (red, green, and white) on hand to recreate the design. Once I finished the design, I proudly showed my younger sister and she complimented my work. That positive feedback made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to explore more nail art designs, so I started adding more nail polishes to my collection and searching for new videos on YouTube to recreate.
OPI: We see that you studied graphic design! How has your background in design played a part in your nail art?
Diana: My background in graphic design has been instrumental in my nail art journey, as it has influenced my creative process in many ways. My interest in art began in middle school when I started taking art classes at the age of 12-13. Even then, I knew I wanted to pursue a creative career but wasn't sure which direction to go. However, I knew that I’d always enjoyed drawing and coloring. When I was in college, one class that has been my favorite and beneficial to my nail art skills is Color Theory. This class gave me a better understanding of how the color wheel works and how to mix different colors together. For example, when a client shows me a nail art design that requires a specific color that I don't have on hand, I am able to mix the colors together to achieve a similar hue. My knowledge of the color wheel has been such a game-changer. If you aspire to create stunning nail art, I highly recommend studying the color wheel. Understanding how colors work together and how to mix them. It will take your nail art skills to the next level. It definitely has for me!
OPI: What techniques and/or tools do you find yourself using most often?
Diana: I have a set of go-to nail art tools that I use consistently on both myself and my clients. These tools include a liner brush, dotting tools, a spatula, a nail art palette, a rhinestone picker, a silicone pen, a fan brush, and a clean-up brush. The liner brush is a personal favorite of mine, as it allows me to create precise lines and curves for designs such as French tips, checkered prints, and swirls. Dotting tools are an essential item in my toolkit due to their versatility. With their different sizes, I can craft various designs such as polka dots, cow prints, and even clouds. Additionally, I often use a dotting tool to fill gel polish colors in designs quickly. For instance, instead of using a liner brush to fill in a circle shape, I prefer using a dotting tool as it's a faster option. The spatula and nail art palette is indispensable for mixing and matching gel colors. It's a bit like being an artist, as I can scoop out colors and create custom shades on the palette. When it comes to placing gems and studs, I turn to my trusty rhinestone picker. And for rubbing on chrome pigments or flattening nail decals, I find the silicone pen to be the perfect tool. A fan brush is great for applying glitter all over the nail or creating a gradient effect at the tip. Finally, the clean-up brush is a must-have for correcting any gel polish that may flood the cuticles or side walls. These tools have become my tried-and-true companions in creating beautiful nail art designs.
OPI: May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What are some ways you love to celebrate Asian and Asian American cultures both in your daily life and in your career?
Diana: Living in Southern California, I have noticed that it's one of the largest Asian communities in the United States. As a way to show my support, I make a conscious effort to buy nail products, food, and drinks from small Asian-owned businesses in Orange County for my nail studio. Additionally, I enjoy dining at local Asian-owned restaurants to further contribute to the community. Being raised in an Asian culture, I value the importance of family. Despite having a younger sister living in Los Angeles and an older brother residing in Corona, I make it a priority to stay connected with them by attending dinners and get-togethers at least a few times a month.
OPI: Do you draw inspiration from your culture and heritage when it comes to your nail art? We'd love to hear more about it!
Diana: As a Vietnamese-American nail artist, I draw inspiration from my cultural and ethnic background when creating nail art. For instance, I often incorporate the traditional colors of red and gold and add cute characters such as the lucky cat or zodiac animals that are typically associated with Lunar New Year celebrations. I also enjoy playing with textures and materials, such as gold/red chrome, gold/red flakes, and gold studs to create a unique look that pays homage to my heritage. By incorporating elements of my culture into my nail art, I am not only expressing my identity but also connecting with clients who share similar backgrounds. Overall, I believe that showcasing my cultural heritage through my art is a meaningful way to express myself and connect with others in the community.
OPI: Your nail art is absolutely amazing and stands out due to the fun designs, fine lines, colors, and expert craftsmanship! How have you developed your techniques to create such stunning work?
Diana: My craftsmanship has developed through the practice I've had on myself, my friends, and my family. Even my clients today trust me so much that they are willing to let me experiment with new designs and colors. I have learned many nail art techniques from my past colleagues and friends in the nail community, which has helped me improve my skills. Meeting people in the same industry as me has been amazing because we can share tips and tricks with each other. I also like to watch videos on social media platforms like YouTube to learn new techniques continually. It is essential to never stop learning, and that's something I would like to emphasize.
OPI: How would you like to see the nail community grow in both diversity and inclusion?
Diana: I once received a message on Instagram from a girl who was interested in becoming a nail tech, but she lived in Indiana, where there was no training or mentorship available for her. Unfortunately, this is a common issue for many minorities who want to join the nail community. I believe that more training and mentorship programs should be available to people who are underrepresented, such as women of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. By providing equal access to these opportunities, we can create a more diverse talent pool and promote inclusion within the nail community.
OPI: Your IG continues to soar and gain traction! What advice would you give to other nail artists who want their socials to thrive?
Diana: Consistency is key, and don't be afraid to share your authentic self with the world. It's understandable to feel intimidated about putting yourself out there on social media, but if you do it with love, passion, and authenticity, people will notice you and be interested in what you have to offer. Showing your personality and unique style is a great way to connect with others and build a supportive community around you. Remember, being true to yourself and sharing your talents and passions is what sets you apart from others, so embrace it!
OPI: You've partnered with OPI on quite a few brand launches! What's been your favorite event, launch, or experience to be a part of so far?
Diana: One of my all-time favorite events by OPI was the launch of the Hello Kitty Holiday Collection in 2019. I was lucky enough to be selected to do an Instagram story takeover for the event, and I had an amazing time sharing my experience at the Hello Kitty Pop-Up at La Plaza Village. As a longtime fan of Hello Kitty, I was so excited when OPI announced its latest collaboration with the beloved character. The event was truly a dream come true, and I had so much fun that I still look back on my archived IG stories from September 2019 to relive the moment. Being asked to collaborate with OPI on a Hello Kitty project was a surreal experience for me, and I still can't believe it happened. It's moments like these that make me grateful to be a part of the nail community.
OPI: What strengths do you feel the nail industry has in terms of diversity and inclusion? What are some areas in which we can do better in your opinion?
Diana: The nail industry I feel has many strengths, particularly in the form of highly skilled and creative nail artists and professionals who generously share their expertise with others. These talented individuals serve as a source of inspiration for those seeking to learn and replicate their nail designs, as well as benefit from their valuable tips and tricks to enhance their own work. Their dedication to showcasing their creativity and knowledge contributes significantly to the industry's strengths and inspires a sense of camaraderie among professionals and enthusiasts alike. One area where I believe the nail industry has room for improvement is in enhancing accessibility and affordability for education and training opportunities, particularly for individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. By addressing these aspects, we can ensure that aspiring nail professionals from all walks of life have equal access to educational resources and skill development. Making education and training more accessible and affordable will break down barriers and provide a platform for individuals from diverse cultures to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives and talents to the industry. This inclusive approach will foster a more diverse and vibrant nail community, enriching the industry as a whole.
Be sure to follow Diana, AKA @ricekittynails on Instagram.