This young entrepreneur taught herself now to do nail art during the pandemic, and launched a company called Normal Girls where she sells press-ons online. Editorial intern Kara Martin chatted with her about this endeavor.
How long have you been in the nail business?
JG: After spring break of 2020. I surprised myself with how quickly my skills had developed and a few months later, I tried out character painting. I saw these girls paint characters on their nails and I thought I would never be able to do that...like “how did they do that?” I thought to myself. But I just randomly started and now it’s my expertise.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating nail art?
JG: My inspiration comes from things that I see. I try to think about if I were going to someone else to get my nails done and I could get anything I wanted, what would I request? Nails can be expensive so having that luxury of being able to do your own nails is inspiring because you get to create all types of things. Also seeing other nail artists pushes me and motivates me to practice my skills and get better. When I see nail artists doing intricate nail art it makes me want to make everything that I do better than the last time and overall, I really enjoy it. What inspires me is that doing nails is calming. I could be doing a set that takes me five hours to complete and my passion for it keeps me going.
What made you want to create a line of press-on nails?
JG: I created Normal Girls because when the pandemic started, I picked up the hobby of doing nails as something I could do for myself.I wanted to start making content about nails. I bought a bunch of nail supplies just to see if I could do it.
So, I started doing my nails and I would post them. I made a new page called @nailsbygeez and I just started posting on there all the time, just the things I was creating, and people seemed to gravitate towards it. And I was like wow, this is something I should do, and a lot of people asked about it. I also saw that during the pandemic, nail artists couldn’t work in their shops, but a lot of them were selling their nails online. This is another way for people who may not be licensed to be able to express themselves through nail art. I decided to open Normal Girls, so I saved up money and I created the brand, which is what I like to call nostalgia at your fingertips.
What is your advice to someone who wants to get better at freehand nail art?
JG: Figure out what is comfortable for you. When I first started doing nail art, I was using acrylic paint, which for one is a great alternative for someone who is just getting into nail art because it’s cheap and flexible. But there is a learning curve with it. There is also a different learning curve to using gel paints, which is the medium that I use now, for nail art. So, figuring out what is most comfortable for you and not being afraid to try. And also, not feeling like because you see someone else doing something a certain way, you must do it that way. For me freehand is what is most comfortable for me. Doing things freehand is just my style and that is okay. Just because another artist is good at doing outlines and their art may be better than mine does not mean mine will not get there.
And just doing research on good tools and good products. Your brushes are especially important. Having great brushes is something that helped elevate my nail art as well as investing in good products. I know in the beginning it can be hard because of money. You know, this stuff is not cheap, especially if you are using salon-quality products and you are going to be selling them because I use a lot of quality products when I am sending these personal nails. That is what I use. So, I would say just focus on using the products, doing what is comfortable, and just doing research, doing research asking questions, figuring out how to do this, and really paying attention.
In what ways do you feel like history is repeating itself in the nail industry?
JG: I feel like there has become a new appreciation for nails, I guess more widespread. I feel like there has always been an appreciation for more extravagant and decorative and expressive nails outside of the Black community. I feel like that has always been a thing that Black women have, a way to express themselves. But I feel like now, you know, it's become more widespread for more women, more people, even males to express themselves through their nails. So, I feel like some trends are repeating themselves, you know, the long, curved arms that you will find more so in the late 80s and 90s I think those times are coming back. Just because I think it's another way for people to express themselves.
What is your ultimate career goal?
JG: Doing nails was like a secondary thing. I went to school for Journalism and Communication. And that was like the primary goal, you know, become a writer, and become a journalist. Then when nails came in it was just this fire and passion behind it, and it was undeniable. The talent is there but this was something I really had to own because if I could have it my way, I would like to have my own nail studio and employ other people to either work for my store, whether it be to create personal nails or work on clients. The big picture is to have a whole Normal Girls studio where girls can come in, get their nails done, or get personal nails and have an area where people can take pictures and have a full-blown studio. So having a space where I could be involved with the nails and have other avenues of creativity, whether it be photography or other artists, but I want it to be an inclusive nail studio.
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