The Nail Industry and Black Lives Matter, an Interview with OPI Pro Shanta White
We’re so proud to work alongside some incredible Black Pros and Educators in the OPI community. As part of our efforts to amplify their voices and creativity, we spoke to Shanta White of @pamperedspa about how she got into the industry, the importance of inclusivity, and why all nail salons should feel like heaven.
OPI: Hi Shanta! We’re excited to be speaking with you today, can you tell us a little about how you got started in the nail industry?
SW: I started doing my own nails in college. I didn’t enjoy going to the shops because I was a little picky. I learned by sight and figured I could do my own. I had the infamous apartment that everyone hung out at, and all my friends started asking me to do theirs also. I had fun doing their nails and chatting. It became our special “girl time”! Fast forward, I graduated from college and started working with a corporation for 7 1/2 years. I was laid off during what seemed like the beginnings of a recession. I thought to myself “What do I want to do now?” The corporate world was good financially but it wasn’t fulfilling my creative side. I then remembered my love for nails and thought what better time than now to go get a license and try something new?
OPI: What inspired you to pursue a career in the nail industry?
SW: I love the idea of being pampered, I love the happiness and confidence clients feel when they look at their nails and see a transformation. It reminds me that the simplest gesture of touch and color can change your mood and make you feel like a new person. Ultimately I always had a dream of opening a spa, especially after I visited Burke Williams, my first experience I thought to myself “ This feels like heaven!”. So I wanted others to feel the joy I felt, I not only wanted to own/operate the spa but I also wanted to learn the skills so that if I needed to step in and work, legally I would be able to perform the duties.
OPI: With COVID-19 still affecting nail salons across the U.S, can you tell us how you stayed connected with clients?
SW: On social media, I saw so many people struggling, and attempting to take matters in their own hands from ordering drills, dip powders, UV Lamps, and other harsh things to use on themselves which I believed was going to hurt them and/or cause harsher effects. So I shared tips on safe things to do at home. I provided nail kits to my clients and left communication open so that they knew they could ask me anything to help them through the process.
OPI: What steps are you taking to ensure safety for your clients?
SW: Following the rules and guidelines that have been set for our industry is extremely important not only for our clients but for ourselves. Because at the end of the day we all want to live healthy safe lives. In our industry sanitation is Always most important, if the foundation isn’t right nothing else matters.
OPI: What strengths do you feel the nail industry has in terms of diversity and inclusion?
SW: The strength is beauty!! No matter your color or gender, EVERYONE deserves to feel beautiful and confident in their own image and desires. There is no set stone or ideal of what beauty is, I believe it's in the eye of the beholder. Wear or pick a color or design that makes YOU happy. I love that nails are your own expressions, like fashion, it’s your own accessory to be worn however you feel best and no one should dictate that but you.
OPI: What do you think nail color companies can do to lead the way for meaningful discussion and substantial change?
SW: Nail companies can lead the way by being inclusive, when looking on social media we tend to see the same shade color of hands, with the same look. I would like to see more of a variety of shade, styles, and shapes.. add some darker tones, hands with freckles or vitiligo, add more hands that don’t always fit the “mold” like chubby hands, they are rarely seen. It’s a beautiful thing when a company becomes relatable, when others can see themselves in your brand is awesome, when what the world deems as unattractive is celebrated or displayed it begins to show normalcy and increase esteems in those that are rarely celebrated.
OPI: How does seeing the community come together to protest make you feel?
SW: Seen!! For so long we have been fighting this beast/monster by ourselves. We’ve been erased from history, we’ve worked and built so much in America, we’ve been treated less than, killed beaten and abused for soooo many years, overlooked yet told to “Get over it”! Animals have more rights and have been treated more fairly in this country than African Americans/Black people. It seems that during COVID 19 when the world took a pause, eyes were FINALLY opened. Now the world finally has time to truly see our struggles, are finally learning our history/contributions, and deciding to take a stand and to declare that Black Lives Matter too!!
OPI: What does support for BLM mean to you?
SW: LOVE!! It’s an expression of love...Love Protects, Love is Kind, Love is Hopeful and Love always Perseveres!! Many may never fully understand our struggle or cries when we shout Black Lives Matter, but to know that you Empathize and have a desire to learn/understand and sympathize, you’re willing to support, stand up and stand by us is amazing.
OPI: What are some of the black-owned brands (beauty or otherwise) that you follow and love?
SW: I absolutely love humble beginnings, here are a few of my favorite small business owners: Myself:) I just launched my Own Natural Body Oil called “Pamper’d Potion” with a Multi-use on Hands, Feet & Body. Custom Apparel @beachblvddesigns. Apparel Factory Owner in DTLA @iamshonsimon. Kelli M. @Kellz_cocktailz small business owner. Lisa Logan @Lisa_logan new launch of homemade soaps.
OPI: Any advice for other techs who want to work with nail brands?
SW: Never give up and always give your best!! In a world where social media is dominant, sometimes you feel invisible because you don’t have tens of thousands of followers BUT continue to do your work, create beautiful nails, and post it anyway. Don’t worry about the numbers but concentrate on your purpose, when the time is right you’ll shine bright and the world will see. Have a heart of gratitude and positivity, that will attract the right people. Don’t be afraid to reach out, tag brands in your pictures if you used their products and network!! I met and learned some of my greatest lessons and tips that I use daily from mentors that have been in the industry for years like Lisa Logan, Naja, and Tom B. Also, make friends, connect with other nail artists❤️
You can follow Shanta White @pamperedspa on Instagram for tons of inspiring nail art including negative space and abstract looks. Be sure to stay tuned for more check-ins with OPI Pros and the OPI Obsessed community around the Black Lives Matter movement coming soon.