Meet Naja: The Nail Tech Star of Reality Show L.A. Hair

Most people in L.A. don't get visitors to their home -- due to a lack of parking spaces. But now that I have a penthouse apartment in Beverly Hills with ample parking for guests, I'm actually able to have people over. Other than the typical comments about the view, I frequently get this question (said with wonder): “You don’t have a TV?”

Nope, I do not! TV has never been my thing. It bores me and I despise commercials. I do enjoy going to the movies, but I don't usually watch those at home either, preferring instead to return e-mails or read a book. (Side note: I have watched Jerseyliscious and Breaking Bad on Netflix and I thoroughly enjoy both.) I told my agent that if there is ever a chance to do anyone of the cast from Breaking Bad or Madmen to PLEASE send me so I can tell them they are doing an amazing job because I have not watched TV since the Cosby Show, no lie!

What’s this have to do with nails, you ask? Starting Thursday, June 6 at 10 p.m. I will be on WEtv’s hit reality show L.A. Hair. This is the second season and another testament to how nails are exploding across the board because this season they wanted to add a manicurist to the mix.

I met and have worked with Kim Kimble (left, with me on the right; the topmost photo was taken recently on set; the other is from several years ago ), owner of Kimble Hair Studio (the salon that the reality show is based on), for many years on set with celebs like Mary J Blige and Eve. When I owned my salon, Extremedys Hand & Foot Spa, she and her mom were my clients. Kim would also get gift certificates for her assistants and employees to come relax at my salon and get their nails done. We would talk about when Kim expanded her salon that I should run the nail aspect and have some of my trained staff work there to take VIP clients.

Then in the same timespan of a few months, Kim moved and expanded her salon to include mani/pedis and I sold my salon of four years to concentrate on the freelance aspect of my career. I've done nails for a CoverGirl ad with Joneea Monea, commercials for TJ Maxx and Pop Chips with Katy Perry, plus I give back to the nail industry every week as co-host & VP of Nail Talk Radio.

I didn't know what Kim was doing during that time but I had heard she had a reality show at her salon. One day she told me she was finalizing plans for her new salon and it was “nail time.” She asked me about running and staffing it for her and mentioned that the reality show producers were interested in adding a manicurist to the show. She said, "I’m not sure if you want to be on TV but I'll give the producers your number if you want."

Initially I had no interest in being part of the show and Kim and I continued to discuss plans on how we could work together and get the nail department of her huge newly expanded salon going (it’s 4,000 sq. ft.!). I did meet with the producers, and then I started to see that it may be a great opportunity to expose the general public to a different type of salon experience -- being as Kim and I see eye to eye on an overall high-end salon experience. I’ve worked with Kim for many years, and I decided to do it and bring nails to TV.

Being the first celebrity manicurist on reality TV, a pioneer if you will, I anticipated there may be some road bumps but essentially I intended to clear road blocks for myself and manicurists worldwide. There were a few rounds of interviews with the producers and many other manicurists went for the role. Producers loved me and my no-nonsense approach to business and that I come from a place of being an owner. So I have more of a boss mentality then that of an employee. I knew I would not have much or any control over the editing process or how I would be perceived but at the end of the day I was just me handling my business and trying my best to elevate the professional nail business while showing nail art lovers all around the world what I can do.
What surprised me about being on the show is, as many others have stated...after a day or two, the cameras really do blend in with the background and you no longer notice them. The amount of hours and work also surprised me tremendously. It was like putting another full-time job into my already two full-times jobs of running a radio show, doing my celeb clients on set, and trying to get this nail salon up and running. It requires a lot of hours and approval from a lot of people.

First day of shooting was surreal and completely crazy. Cameras, cords, wires, hot lights, periods of seclusion from other people in the salon -- all this while I was "moving in." I essentially was moving all my supplies AND clients from my recently sold salon to Kim's. And I really didn’t know how the show was going to fit into that. I was definitely in for a surprise when I finally arrived to set up shop. Once I got settled in, it was bearable. I made the best out of the situation as I always do.
My initial reaction was that this could potentally damage my career, As I am already known (semi) worldwide in the professional nail industry and by photographers/celebs/producers in L.A. I honestly didn't feel this was the right time or right situation for me. Seeing how big nails really are at the moment, I thought another opportunity would come along. I wanted to wait for a nails-only show or one focusing more on nails. I had a business manager at the time that really muscled me into it (no longer on the payroll) but at the end of the day I had to make a decision and stand behind it. That is one of the most important things I have learned as a business woman, salon owner, and VP of Nail Talk Radio that when it comes to business, DECISIONS MUST be made. In my book a bad decision is better than no decision.

I subscribe to the principle that it’s better to make a decision and in hindsight find out it may not have been the best choice then to sit on it (for too long) and miss an opportunity. This is especially true and necessary if you have a staff or people looking to you for answers, guidance,  leadership. Either way -- if it soars you to the sky or crashes you to the ground -- you have taken a stand and MADE a decision. That is a better choice in my book then to take all your ideas, dreams, ambitions, and chances to the grave with you. More than likely you will have learned valuable business insights with every decision you make.

So I made the decision to do this show. Time will tell if it works in elevating my career or if I'll have to send a lot of apology letters. I do know this: I applaud myself for making a decision.

I hope your decision is the watch the show :)
Keep filing and keep smiling,

Editor's Note: We're thrilled that Naja will be blogging exclusively for NAILS Magazine during the second season of L.A. Hair. Tune in here on From the Editors after each episode to find out what they didn't tell you on TV!

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