Tom Bachik Interview – Marie Claire Image Makers Award
Tom Bachik Interview – Marie Claire Image Makers Award
Tom Bachik is a celebrity manicurist, or “celebrity ‘MAN’icurist,” as he quips on his Instagram. With over 200,000 followers on social media, Bachik has made quite a name for himself in the beauty world and secured a position as one of the biggest celebrity nail artists in the industry. As OPI’s Global Nail Designer, he’s worked with everyone from Selena Gomez to Heidi Klum, Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé. From cover shoots and movie premieres, to blacking-out celebrity nails for the Golden Globes red carpet, or prepping Kerry Washington for an appearance on Ellen, Bachik does it all. This week, Marie Claire named him their 2018 Choice Detail Maker as a part of their Image Maker awards. The venerated award honors the stars (behind the stars) of the red carpet.[SD1] This is the first time they’ve named a manicurist as an Image Maker, and Bachik was awarded this honor for his long and distinguished career in beauty. We sat down with Tom and spoke about the award, his work with OPI, and his journey to success.
Tell us your story. How did you get your start as a celebrity manicurist?
I went to school for graphic design with the intention of opening up my own airbrushing studio. I’ve always drawn and loved art, but always the graphic side of things, like I loved hot rods and jet-skis and Harleys. My wife and I found out we were having our first child and the whole starving artist thing isn’t great for raising a family. We were having dinner with my cousin who was in school to cut hair, and he told us that during times of recession, the beauty industry actually increases in revenue, and I was like, “That’s awesome, but I don’t have a year and a half to go back to school for hair and makeup.” He was like, “No, nails! Simply change your canvas.”
It was early 90s, the first time that nail art was kind of trending, and the girls were all starting to get their nails airbrushed. So he made this connection and talked about how, unlike my world where the revenue was so inconsistent, the girls came into the salon every two weeks. You had a set clientele; you build a clientele. Light bulbs went off and it all just made sense: I could start my own business and make it whatever I wanted to make it. It could be what I wanted it to be. That was on a Thursday. On Friday I checked out the schools, and on Monday I started.
What was the next big step? Was there a moment or client that made you feel like, “Wow, I’ve made it?”
The whole beginning part of my career was actually in the professional industry. I started working for manufacturers, developing products and running education and training. I was the artistic director for a company and we were doing photoshoots for different brands within the company, like the polish collection for a new product. On one of the first shoots that I was involved with—cause I would do the nails for the shoot—we hired a photographer and glam team. Well I didn’t know this, but apparently we had hired a very famous makeup artist. Her name was Francesca Tolot, she’s actually Beyoncé’s makeup artist. We had to collaborate on some of the looks because it was very fashion forward, avant-garde makeup and nails. When we were done, she was like, “Wow your work is really good. Who’s your agent?” I was like, “Agent? What are you talking about? You need an agent?” I knew nothing about this world. I didn’t have a portfolio or celebrity clients, so she twisted her agency’s arm. With a little bit of reluctance, they said, “Fine, we’ll give him some overflow work.” Word of mouth took off and things kind of exploded—I say that, but it took like 10 years!
As far as a time that made me think I’ve made it, I’ve been blessed to work with so many A-list celebrities, I remember my first big job was with Britney Spears and the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Later, Victoria Beckham moved to the U.S. and was on TV on Thursday saying, “I need a school for my kids and a manicurist.” Literally that night I got a call from Eva Longoria saying, “Hey I have this friend and I told her only you,” and I was like, “No, I’m totally busy—wait a second, who’s this friend? Does she have an English accent? Yeah I’m available!” So I don’t know if there was really one particular “WOW” moment because I feel like there have been so many moments. Each time, I’m like, oh my god, this is surreal: I’m flying to Chile to do Jennifer Lopez on one of her TV shows, or I’m at the Oscars with this celebrity, or Beyoncé for that, or sitting in Gwen Stefani’s living room when I used to be a huge No Doubt fan, I’m like, “I can’t believe this is actually real.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with OPI?
I’ve been friends with OPI since the beginning because of the whole professional industry connection, so I’ve always known the people at OPI. I’ve always loved what they stand for and how they’ve supported the nail tech—and of course, their colors. They have the most amazing colors and the best names ever. At one point, I had stepped away from the professional industry and focused primarily on my agency, but I tend to follow my passion and my heart. Somebody kept saying, “You need to get back into the professional industry,” because I felt like things had gotten flat since I was there.
I had the opportunity to work with OPI through their PR, and I was requesting some products for Fashion Week and asked, “Hey do you have any colors you might want to showcase?” They were like, “We’re doing a Stella McCartney show. Let’s collaborate and do it together.” So we did the Stella McCartney show, talks pursued, and we were like, let’s do something together. I’ve taken the role as their Global Nail Designer, and the plan is to work with marketing and develop colors and collections, to work with product development and bring a fresh view to their existing products, the professional products that the nail techs in salons use, and to help strengthen the brand through social media and the professional side of the market. All the things that I was doing over the years have really put me in a position to come on board with them and hopefully create a new era.
Tell us about this award, how you won, and what it means to you to have won.
I received the call saying, “Hey, we’ve got great news. Marie Claire has chosen you as one of their Image Makers and it’s the first time they’ve awarded a manicurist or a nail tech.” So it’s a super exciting thing! They asked around and said my name kept coming up and that they were really excited and really wanted me to be part of this. It’s such an honor, I was like, “Yes, of course. I’d love to be part of this.”
What is it about your style that landed you this award and has gotten you this far?
I think my attention to myopic detail. Clients are always telling me, “You’re such a perfectionist,” and I feel like it’s on the verge of being a bad thing! But at the same time, my clients know that I’m always striving to do my best and bring them the best. It’s two things: When they have these events and occasions, they know that they can trust that I’ll have what’s happening, what’s hot, new trends, the new colors. I’ve been thoroughly educated on how to use different products, so when they use me, they don’t sweat what the nails are going to be.
Also, I often get complimented on—I don’t know how—but I bring a sense of calm to the team. When clients are having these different events or performances or red carpets, it’s definitely stressful. They’ve got paparazzi out there, they’ve got interviews, everything’s happening and everything’s crazy. So they depend on their beauty team to be the best at our game and help create that confidence around them but also to help them relax and enjoy the moment as well. So it’s both sides: the personalities of beauty professionals that all mesh well together, as well as the level of skill that they bring.
What advice would you give to aspiring nail artists or people who want to work in beauty?
My advice would be to give it 100 percent. I always hear the comment of, “I got into it because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and it was a great way to make money while I was trying to decide.” But I think it’s limiting if you don’t invest in it. For me, when I decided to do nails I figured, if I’m going to be a guy doing nails, I better be good at it. I didn’t have a plan B, I jumped in with full speed and invested the time and invested the money and the resources, and took it as a career, not just a job. So my advice would be to give 100 percent and go all in. If you want to be good and you want to be successful, you have to do the work. You have to make that investment in order to show a return.
Congratulations Tom! We’re so proud to have you as part of the OPI family.