The first-ever Next Top Nail Artist had some pretty stiff competition. So we decided to bring the final three competitors to Long Beach to challenge them one last time and crown the ultimate winner.
The Newbie: Harold “Buddy” Sims, Bella Dea Day Spa, Omaha, Neb.
NAILS: How does it feel to make it to the Top 3?
Buddy: Being in the Top 3 is almost hard to believe! At the beginning of the competition, I wasn’t sure if there was a light at the end of the tunnel! Nonetheless, we made it! I am so very honored to be here. Being selected with the unique and talented individuals was everything, until my competitive and creative sides took over! I am overjoyed that all my hard work has led me to this point, and I congratulate everyone involved in NTNA, as this has truly been a wonderful experience.
Buddy finished in the Top 3 in this fashion-themed challenge
NAILS: What was your favorite challenge of the first 10?
Buddy: How could I choose!? I put all my heart and soul into everything I did, but, seeing as you are making me choose — I loved the fashion week challenge sponsored by CND the most. I loved the tie-in of runway fashion, The Blonds, and unique materials. These elements in unison helped create some stellar designs.
NAILS: What challenge did you find the most difficult?
Buddy: The most difficult challenge was the one that landed me in the bottom — Misa’s polish-themed challenge. It was a great challenge, but I was too inside my head. I think I was too literal in my interpretation and should have worked outside the box more. I still stand by the design, which took plenty of time, but I am open enough to accept those constructive criticisms.
NAILS: What do you think is the greatest strength of each of your two final competitors?
Buddy: Lauren really seems to be a jack-of-all trades with her own unique approach to everything she touches. I loved everything she did; her pieces were beautiful. Her strengths are many, so whatever she does at the finals will be surprising and amazing! Ryoko is very consistent and concise. She also seems to do it all! Every technique was perfectly executed. Her designs for the finals will be flawless and unforgiving, as she has the experience to back it up.
NAILS: What has the experience of being in the Top 12 of NTNA been like?
Buddy: Exhausting! LOL! It really has been a lot of hard work and serious dedication, but it was worth every minute. It has been fun getting to know everyone through the challenges. Each challenge was so different that I was able to do and learn many different things. I learned so much and surprised myself a few times!
Buddy Sims with his mentor, salon owner Pam Rowland
NAILS: Who has been your biggest supporter throughout the competition?
Buddy: Though my family and loved ones were always there for me, I can’t ignore the support from my salon owner, Pam Rowland. She gave me carte blanche to do whatever was needed to take it all the way (while helping keeping my sanity)! Pam offered every product available and her words of wisdom kept my feet on the ground. She was the one who gave me the NTNA application! I really do owe her a debt of gratitude as I wouldn’t be here without her.
Buddy finished in the Top 3 in this swan-themed challenge
NAILS: Do you have any sage words of advice to future NTNA competitors about the competition?
Buddy: I think the best advice is to be as prepared as possible and make sure you can commit fully to the competition as a whole. This was not for the faint of heart. This competition has been the main focus in my life, for all the right reasons. You really have to be open to all the possibilities offered with NTNA.
NAILS: Finish this sentence: “If I win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition…”
Buddy: “… I believe it will show other newer artists/technicians that with the proper tools, education, and commitment, anyone can become NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. I hope these things in conjunction with my talent and personality earn me the title — though I already feel like a winner!”
NAILS: What are you looking forward to the most about being in the final challenge?
Buddy: I am looking forward to everything about the experience of the finals. It will be amazing to get this type of exposure, while finally meeting my competitors and judges. Getting out of Nebraska during the winter will be pretty great, too! I just hope my nerves don’t get the best of me…this is serious stuff.
Buddy won Week 3: Home Is Where the Heart Is challenge with these nails.