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 Teacher. Lauren Wireman, Wildflowers, Cape Coral, Fla.
NAILS: How does it feel to make it to the Top 3?
Lauren: I feel excited and a little nervous.
Lauren won this fashion-themed challenge.
NAILS: What was your favorite challenge of the first 10?
Lauren: My favorite challenge was the CND challenge. I was in Pittsburgh visiting my family, and my dad was trying really hard to help me. He came downstairs with a memory card and my mom’s X-rays. At first I wasn’t sure but then I decided to go with it — because how often in life do you get to design a set of nails with your dad? It was priceless.
NAILS: What challenge did you find the most difficult?
Lauren: I found the Gel II hometown mural to be the most difficult because I do not have a lot of experience in mural painting, and looking through former mural challenges on the website, it was difficult to figure out what the judges really like when it comes to murals.
Lauren won this applique challenge.
NAILS: What do you think is the greatest strength of each of your two final competitors?
Lauren: The strongest thing about Buddy is that I feel he is completely unpredictable. He’s not afraid to think outside the box and just go with it. When he nails something (no pun intended) it seems to blow everyone else’s entries out of the water. Ryoko has a strong eye for detail, design, and balance.
NAILS: What has the experience of being in the Top 12 of NTNA been like?
Lauren: I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I was constantly praying that I wouldn’t get sick because of all of the hours I was working, in addition to the hours I was spending on the challenges. That was the bad part. The awesome part was when people that you don’t even know pick your design and say how amazing it is. I just wanted to hug people through the Internet. My customers were all jazzed up about it too, which was fun! My family has been going crazy, and I have an entire high school Zumba gym class in Georgia making videos for me cheering me on! It’s an emotional roller coaster.
Lauren Wireman (right) with her biggest supporter Melissa McComb
NAILS: Who has been your biggest supporter throughout the competition?
Lauren: Melissa McComb. She has been my #1 non-family member fan since the day I picked up a sable hair brush. I was the nail instructor, and Melissa was a student at the beauty school.
NAILS: Do you have any sage words of advice to future NTNA competitors about the competition?
Lauren: Clear your schedule as much as possible because you will need plenty of time for the challenges. Surround yourself with people who have an eye for design, who will give you honest feedback, and have an abundance of acrylic nail and natural nail models lined up. Do anything you can to improve your skills, or learn new ones before the competition begins. And lastly, sometimes less is more.
NAILS: Finish this sentence: “If I win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition…”
Lauren: “…I will take a vacation, and raise my prices when I get back.”
NAILS: What are you looking forward to the most about being in the final challenge?
Lauren: Meeting new people, and teaching other individuals as passionate about nails as I am, and inspiring them, motivating them, sharing secrets and tricks, and sometimes giving them a swift kick in the butt or a pat on the back. Who am I? If I can do this, so can anyone.
Lauren won this '50s-themed challenge.