The Nail Industry and Black Lives Matter, an Interview with OPI Educator Kesha Scales
OPI: HI Kesha, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Can you tell us a little about your salon, Spoil Me Nail Bar?
KS: My salon Spoil Me… Nail Bar is located in Memphis, TN. I opened the nail bar in 2000 and expanded to a larger space in 2009. We are a full-service nail bar, and our focus is to provide exceptional quality service so that our clients feel “SPOILED” hence the name. There isn’t any aspect of the nail industry that my team is not able to fulfill. We pride ourselves on staying abreast of all the newest trends, yet we never forget the basic fundamentals of nail care.
OPI: That sounds incredible! We all love it when clients can get spoiled in the nail salon. What inspired you to pursue a career in the nail industry?
KS: Besides loving color and being creative, my inspiration also came from my mother. She is a 50 year veteran in the hair industry. When I was a teen I used to change my nail color to match my outfits for the week. It was one of the things I was known for in high school. If I wore a print, my nails had to have a similar design, it was a MUST! Although I had this love for doing nails, it wasn’t the best job career you could seek after high school or college. Receiving my BS in Accounting and becoming a licensed CPA was the job that my parents could be proud of growing up. But my desires for the nail industry keep calling me. In 1994 I made the decision to attend beauty school and the rest is history. This industry has become a multi-million dollar industry since then and I have loved being a part of every moment of it.
OPI: We’re sure glad you decided to pursue it, you have such a talent for it! With COVID-19 still affecting nail salons across the U.S, can you tell us how you stayed connected with clients?
KS: I stayed connected with my clients through texts, social media, and just old fashioned phone calls at times. Over the years my clients have become part of my family, yes you have some that come and go. But the ones that are loyal and faithful to your craft would never consider going somewhere else. I sent out nail care messages to help clients remove products, or if they had any questions about anything nail related, I made myself available to them.
OPI: What steps are you taking to ensure safety for your clients currently?
KS: In order to safely reopen, it took a lot of research and restructuring. We had to definitely get all the necessary PPE in place for our team as well as for clients. It was challenging to try to schedule your regular clients first, as to not be rude to new people that wanted to get their hands and feet serviced to some sense of normalcy. After all we had been quarantined for over 3 months. So we went back to old school scheduling and paused our online scheduling services, just so we could manage the extra time needed between clients to clean and sanitize properly.
OPI: What strengths do you feel the nail industry has in terms of diversity and inclusion?
KS: The nail industry has always been diverse and inclusive of all nationalities. Just look at all the different levels of creativity. Everyone has something to contribute to the industry to make it their own. The world is a melting pot of creeds and cultures, so is the nail industry.
OPI: What do you think nail color companies can do to lead the way for meaningful discussion and substantial change?
KS: Any discussion and substantial change have to be done from within each of us. You have to first be honest about the discussion and then truly be serious about the changes you want or are willing to make. Because what’s important is to allow yourself to be ready to commit to change and not make a superficial move based on current events just to fit into the status quo.
OPI: How does watching the community come together to protest make you feel?
KS: The community coming together in a push for change is long overdue. My surprise has come from the vast array of colors that you do see out in the streets protesting for change.
OPI: What does support for BLM mean to you?
KS: BLM means to me that being BLACK in this country today, I should not be experiencing the level of systemic racism that faces us. Being BLACK in America should not be a hindrance or a hardship. My children should not have to fear that the color of their skin could ultimately bring them harm or death. We as BLACK people deserve the same rights and respect as our Caucasian counterparts in this country.
OPI: What are some of the black-owned brands (beauty or otherwise) that you follow and love?
KS: It’s funny that as diverse the nail industry has become, only 1 to 2 percent are black-owned companies. The challenge to break into the nail industry is much harder than the hair or skincare industry.
OPI: Tell us how you became an OPI Educator. Any advice for other techs who want to work with nail brands?
KS: I became an OPI educator over 13 years ago. It was a product that everyone knew and loved. I always knew I wanted to teach and educate on what I knew best, which was nails. So why not work for the #1 nail company globally. The advice I would give to other nail techs would be to follow your dreams and don’t be intimidated by the company's size and recognition. If there is a brand that you use in the salon and can stand behind it. Then it would be easier to apply as an educator because you already know the product.
You can follow Kesha Scales @spoilmenailbar on Instagram for tons of inspirational content, including some amazing work with glitter and rhinestone nail art. Be sure to stay tuned for more check-ins with OPI Pros around the Black Lives Matter movement coming soon.