“Hi, I’m Lauren, and I love to learn! My learning obsession has fueled my career in nails over the past four years. I started with the traditional red polish in three strokes for the boards back in 2001, and just about everything after that was self-taught, mostly from hours of late night nail videos on YouTube. After teaching as a nail instructor at a beauty school, I now own a bright and peaceful private studio called Wildflowers. It’s there that I service my loyal clientele and provide private nail education for salons and techs up and down the coast.”
Final Challenge Part 2
My set of nails represents several layers of my personality. The “amor” nail represents my daughter Israelle, who is originally from Mexico. Amor means love in Spanish. I also LOVE cursive writing and am deeply saddened that they are taking it out of the school curriculum. The herringbone patterned nail represents a braid because I am a full cosmetologist, and I also love doing haircuts, color, and especially braiding. Next is the owl nail. Owls represent wisdom. I have made so many mistakes in my life, and then I realized that it’s so much better to learn from other people’s mistakes. I feel that I am full of wisdom and love to share it with others, especially with nails. After that is my mehndi nail. This represents my artistic side, and the wildflowers on the nail remind me not to worry about anything. Wildflowers is also the name of my private studio. The chevron nail on the thumb represents the stupid things we do as teenagers and try to hide from our parents. There was a specific incident involving my parents’ car and a chevron sign that happened when I was a teen, and I won’t go into any more details about that.
On the other hand is a piano, representing my musical side. I have played piano for seven years, and love the sound of an old vintage piano. The piano I own is aluminum from WWII, and I just love it. The next two nails go together. It’s a bird flying free from a cage. This represents freedom from a past of drug addiction and prostitution. Also, the bird represents singing. A lot of people call me a song bird because I sing for an audience of one. And the cross represents my faith in God, my Nazirite DNA, my husband, and the church we pastor full of amazing people with amazing stories, many of whom are teenagers. And that’s me in a set of nails!
Final Challenge Part 1
This is my mural representing Southern California. On the mural, you will see different surfboards leaned up against a fence at the beach. Each surfboard represents a different part of SoCal. On the left is a designer surfboard to represent the haute couture, fashion, and money. (Chanel really did make those surfboards). Next is a mural surfboard as a tribute to all of the surfboard artists out there. This one includes Beverly Hills 90210, Rodeo Drive, the classic Beverly Hills sign, and the famous Hollywood sign. Next is Route 66, which goes across the country, ending at the Santa Monica Pier. In the center is the San Diego Zoo, followed by a star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Next to that is the Grauman’s Chinese theatre, which is right off the Walk of Fame. And lastly is a surfboard dedicated to Sublime, a band who created reggae/punk/ska music, which became known as classic southern California music in the ’90s.
Week 10: OPI Products
I was very inspired by Mariah Carey’s wardrobe and fashion ensembles as well as her love for butterflies. I am not sure how much of this is to be credited to Blair Levin, who has been a fashion stylist for Mariah Carey, but either way, she has looked consistently glamorous and classy through the years, without being too over-the-top or colorful.
While watching videos, reading articles and biographies, and looking through hundreds of pictures for inspiration, I noticed that Mariah’s main wardrobe choices tend to be neutrals. If she does color, she either goes bold and bright, or chooses soft candy-colored pastels. I wanted the nails to be fun, playful, and glamorous without being too over-the-top, I wanted to keep it classy. Mariah loves sparkle, if you notice her microphones are all Swarovski-encrusted with a little “MC” monogram. I knew I had to dazzle the nails up. I didn’t want to go crazy though, so I nixed the idea of doing a completely covered Swarovski nail. I had to include a butterfly, which is Mariah’s “thing” and represents her transformation and beauty. I wanted to keep it simple because I feel that the nails are the true accessory.
Week 9: CND
When we received design boards in the mail, it was funny because I didn’t even know what a design board was. But now that I know what it is, I like it — a lot. I think I am going to start making design boards for everything now. For those of you who don’t know what a design board is, it’s basically a collage of inspiration (this one was full of pictures) that helps to evoke emotions, feelings, and ideas.
For this challenge as I looked at the boards, I felt all three of those, but they all came from The Blonds’ design boards. The first thing I noticed besides the bright almost neon yellows, and metals, was a little picture of C-3PO from “Star Wars”. The idea for a nail popped right into my head. I sketched it out right away. I was so excited about that nail that I completely focused on it for a couple of days. Once I had it completed, I went back to the design boards for inspiration for my other two nails.
I started thinking of all kinds of nails, using Tweety Bird’s eyes (because that’s the only other color on the bird besides yellow), or doing something hard with texture, but then I realized that this fashion show already happened, and that CND’s A-team already designed nails for it. So then, I was curious to see the show, and the nails that were created. I looked up the show on YouTube, and as I sat and watched it, I probably designed 30 nails in my brain. It was like inspiration overload.
The inspiration for my final nails came from a combination of the design boards and watching the actual show. The glamour, swishing boots, and futuristic undertones made my brain light up. I am also blessed to be surrounded by a family of creative thinkers who I happened to be staying with during this challenge. They really helped my ideas come to life this week as you will see in the videos. This was by far my favorite challenge.
Week 8: Misa Cosmetics
I chose Misa’s Epiphany polish. Epiphany is a very interesting word to me. I thought I knew what it meant until about nine years ago. Back then, I was homeless and living in the streets addicted to crack-cocaine and heroin. I was doing anything I could to get drugs, or the money to get drugs. (Yes, true story.) I was chasing after what I thought was happiness, and a feeling of euphoria, but it left me completely empty and void. I was completely broken inside and reached a point where I didn’t want to live anymore. It wasn’t the first time I had felt this way, but this time it was different, I was sincere. I had tried the 12-steps, and anything else to stop doing drugs, lying, stealing, and everything else destructive, but it just never worked. I had been put on multiple psychotropic medications for bi-polar disorder, panic attacks, and severe depression, but nothing could stop it. I had reached the end.
I had many people tell me and teach me that I needed a “higher power,” but I didn’t understand what any of that meant. It was as if I had been completely blinded by lies told to me by others, and lies that I had told myself. I felt like there was a veil covering my heart and my mind, and I couldn’t truly live. This seemed very unfair to me, and I blamed God, even though I didn’t really know Him. Until one crazy day.
The need for a “higher power” is there because obviously if someone like me HAD the power to quit a drug as powerful as heroin or crack, duh, we would. When it comes to the word “epiphany”, we throw it around like “OMG, I just, like, totally had an epiphany!” But the word has a much deeper meaning and I encourage you to look it up. There’s the teacher in me!
My nails represent the peeling away of the blindness that can only happen when one has a true epiphany, revealing the glory, beauty, and majesty of God, and who He really is.
Week 7: It’s So Easy
The best part of painting a face, creature, or insect on nails is the eyes! As soon as you put the eyes on, the image seems to jump to life and be staring right back at you (sometimes in a creepy way). For this week’s It’s So Easy challenge, (using only three brushstrokes) I demonstrated how to make cartoon eyes looking extra creepy in the dark!
Week 6: Orly
Editor’s Note: Make sure to click on the second photo below to view Lauren’s vision of her day to night French nail design!
I don’t care what anyone says, nothing is ever going to be the new black. Black is black, and it’s clean, bold, and goes with everything. Nothing will ever beat the classic French manicure either when it comes to versatility and its ability to go with everything, but a moon manicure can work the same way if it’s done with the right color. I chose a trendy matte black gel-polish for my base color. I played it up a bit by creating a pop of color on the ring fingers by making a double-moon, and added little shiny dots in the moons to catch the light. I finished it off with a clean stroke of shiny black at the nail tip for a polished look. The design goes with everything, whether it’s your Nikes or a new pair of sassy heels!
Week 5: NSI
For this week’s challenge, I was inspired by pin-up girls! I thought about doing malts, checkered floors, jukeboxes, poodle skirts, and cat eye glasses — all of which I love, but I was having a lot of challenges putting them all together in one set of nails without it being too crowded. I wanted to go with something that would be recognizable from the 1950s and not feel too (for lack of a better word) corny. I chose the long almond-shaped nails (which were popular in the ’50s). The nails were sculpted with bright pops of color under the free edges of the nails, something that is fun to do on a fresh set of sculpted nails. I decorated the under sides with dots, leopard print and stripes. Meow!
Week 4: INM
Click here to watch Lauren’s video about her inspiration and process for creating this design.
Week 3: Gel II
My husband and I moved to Cape Coral, Fla., the land of bi-polar weather and the lightning capital of our country in 2009. Here in the Cape, we have 355 days of sunshine, but also experience an afternoon thunderstorm almost every day in the summer months.
In the late 1950s, two brothers bought Cape Coral, which then was an unnamed giant 120-square-mile peninsula, used mainly as pasture. They leveled it, and brought in a crew to carve out over 400 miles of canals, more than any city in the world. With a clever marketing scheme, they were able to sell plots of land, mostly sight-unseen to northerners. Almost everyone here is from somewhere else, which makes it a very diverse place to live and really fun meeting people.
To give you an idea of how large Cape Coral is, we have three Walmarts, two Targets, and seven Publix Supermarkets on our peninsula (yes, that’s for one city), and are considered the largest city between Tampa and Miami. We are home to a fun waterpark called Sunsplash with many twisting slides. There are over 30 recreational parks where you can camp, kayak, hike, or ride horses among other activities. We even have a man-made sandy beach located on the Caloosahatche River, and we are also the home of one of very few Iwo Jima memorial statues.
Burrowing owls love to make our back yards and neighborhoods their homes year round. They are super-cute, but tend to scare my dogs with their hypnotizing stares and strange twisting and circular head movements. Manatees love to swim into the canals in the cooler winter months to keep warm in the shallow waters. Cape Coral truly is the perfect place for work and play, and the perfect place for a nail school, which I plan to open next year!
Week 2: Entity Beauty
I chose a locket ring as my 3-D nail art to capture the concept of “mysterious.” Rings like this have been used throughout history to carry perfume, locks of hair, poison or a pill, devotional relics, messages, and other keepsakes, so they have also been known by other names. A ring like this creates quite a mystery because you never know what’s inside.
The ring was created using acrylic, a Swarovski crystal, some jewelry wire, and a small seed bead as you will see in the step-by-step photos on the Nail Art Gallery website. The nails were sculpted out of clear acrylic. The fishnet and emerald green glitter were encapsulated inside. The nails were finish-filed, and then enhanced using black acrylic as a 3-D platform for Swarovski crystals. I also embellished the nails with a unique holographic copper fabric.
Week 1: Dashing Diva
My design was inspired by a rug. I was on Pinterest looking for Art Deco inspiration, and somehow this lovely rug popped up, and I fell in love with it immediately! Some of my most wonderful creations come from a misguided, easily distracted moment, and I am sure that this was one of them. I wasn’t sure if it would fall into the category of Floral or Art Deco, but either way I would wear it on my nails! I chose to stick close to the original colors, because most of the artwork from that era had somewhat muted colors. Another thing I noticed was that none of the artwork was outlined in black. Everything was either outlined in brown or red or white. That created a wonderful challenge and a lot of holding my breath, but when I slipped, it was easy to fix with a little white paint.