As of recent years, the Super Bowl has become much more than just football. In fact, many non-football fans tune in for the debut of their favorite brands commercials, to not have FOMO and others just a reason to eat/drink and throw a good party. Another big reason is for the concert that occurs in the middle of the game. Often, it’s an A-list pop-star or musician and many joke that their favorite music star’s concert is ‘being interrupted by a football game.’
This year, it was in fact, a Rhianna concert! With over 113 million+ views on her performance, her baby bump and YES, her nails I got the chance to speak with Kimmie Kyees, her long-standing manicurist about the big day, the big game, and the big manicure. Afterall, that is what WE nail professionals are watching for, right??!
Naja: I heart you Kimmie. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about Rhianna’s Super Bowl nails.
Kimmie: Omg, girl - I heart you too! I’m driving right now, and this L.A. traffic is so hideous. I just landed, my flight was delayed one hour and now I’m rushing on my way to another client’s event. She rented out a whole theater and we’re all gonna watch Magic Mike. A girl’s night.
Naja: So, no rest after the big Rhianna concert, aka Super Bowl Half-Time Show?
Kimmie: Gurl, no! You know this celebrity nail life, there is no rest. And funny you should say that because the running banter was like, “Which team are you rooting for?” and many would say, “Rhianna, or team Rhi Rhi.” That gave me a good chuckle.
Naja: Well, I was rooting for team Kimmie nails.
Kimmie: Ha! Thanks. It was a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve worked with Rhianna since she was 18 years old and although I was excited about her performance, I am even more elated about her baby news.
Naja: When did you find out? Was it with the rest of us?
Kimmie: I only found out about an hour earlier before her performance. I’m just so happy for her. I’ve known her for so long and all she wanted was to be a mom and now she is and it’s so wonderful to see her in that role.
Naja: So, tell us, all things nails for the big day. Were you nervous that over 100 million people would see your work?
Kimmie: I never really think of it like that. In fact, I did Katy Perry’s nails at this same arena for a Super Bowl, a few years ago. I just want to do great nails and make my client happy and feel good for their performance.
Naja: So, let’s talk about the nails. How do you come up with the nail look? Does she tell you, is it based on her clothes or how is the final look determined?
Kimmie: It’s all very in the moment. The clothing options are all laid out to choose from and then it’s a moment by moment based on how she feels what will determine the final look. I watch closely and work intimately with hair/make-up and wardrobe to be ready to give nail look ideas with color, moods, and looks. She chose the red jumper which she looked so good in.
Naja: The nails looked great. I am a classic red girl so I’m a fan of the final look.
Kimmie: Yes, and that look we actually tried out a few days earlier for her press conference. It was a similar nail look. And OMG, girl, we started those nails at 5am. I started the nails at 5am and she had to be out the door - nails done, hair/make-up ready and dressed by 8:45am. It’s a team effort and I along with (hair + make-up) work really well together to have her camera ready and on time.
Naja: Give us the scoop on the nails.
Kimmie: We’ve been doing the same shape and length for sometime now. I call it medium to long length in almond-ish, stiletto shape. I built out the nail using CND’s Plexigel. It’s a gel builder in a bottle. I love it! It’s great for on-set work too, since I do not have my own table and mostly work off the one side of a make-up chair so putting the brush back in a bottle (so I know right where it is and have easy access) is really practical for these tight, small workspaces. Color was Shellac Devil Red and I used the CND Shellac Top and Base Coat.
Naja: I know it gets pretty hectic during these types of high-profile performances. How do you handle stress?
Kimmie: I don’t really get stressed. A lot of my clients I’ve worked with for many years and I just show up and want to do great nails and help them feel beautiful and confident. I’ve been working with Rhi for about 16 years and it has been so great. I value all the opportunities that I’ve had.
And there are perks too, it’s not all work. There are a ton of rehearsals and meetings for Rhianna so while she is in them the glam squad (hair, make-up, wardrobe, etc.) takes care of each other. I got a cute haircut, a leg massage, mini facial, a chiropractic adjustment, and even got my first B-12 and vitamin IV drip. It felt great! I needed it. It helped boost my energy.
Naja: What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone who wants to work with celebrities? Because a number of people contact me saying, “I only live three hours from NY or I’m only one hour plane ride from AZ - does Kimmie need help?”
Kimmie: If you want to do this kind of work you have to be (live) in the city that does it. It’s all so last minute and celeb clients are getting pulled in a lot of different directions so there is limited time and maximum flexibility needed. You know this, right?! Like the Super Bowl is Sunday. I did not know my schedule until Friday, and it changed multiple times not to mention that we did test nails starting at 5am. I missed our call for this interview a few times and now here we are and I’m driving through traffic just off an airplane heading to another clients’ while doing this interview. So yes, if you want to do this full time, I say that you need to reside in the city that does it, not close by, but in the actual city.
Naja: Overall, how was the Rihanna half-time concert for you? LOL
Kimmie: OMG. I loved it and was honored to be part of it. Honestly, I’m more happy about her baby announcement than about the Super Bowl. She still gave a great performance though. I got to see it live on the field and the energy was amazing. We also got to see three rehearsals prior to going live. And they were full-out including the fireworks and everything. So, I am very blessed.
And Rhi is so generous. We each got an official Super Bowl LVII football.
Naja: Oh, wow! Did she sign it?
Kimmie: Yes, she asked me if I wanted my name included or just sign it and I said, “Yes, I’m gonna have this for the rest of my life. Put Kimmie on there.
Naja: Thank you so much for taking this time out to talk with me. I really appreciate it. I won't include any of the curse words (from you driving in L.A. traffic in the interview LOL)
Kimmie: Ha! Girl- this traffic. UGH!
Naja: Any last words you’d like to leave with nail techs?
Kimmie: Yes, never stop learning! I always still take classes, learn about new products and trends, and always up to learn from and talk to other nail people. Every day is a school day. I always say - Lebron James goes to practice five days a week so if Lebron has to practice at the top of his game then we all have to practice, make everyday a school day. If I sit in a five hour class and learn two things, I am super stoked about it. I loved watching Naja do nails, I always learn something from watching another nail tech work. So never stop learning is my best advice!
Kimmie Kyees is my mentor in the celebrity nail game. Elvis actually, in a way, brought us together. About 13 years ago she saw gold metallic Minx nails on a client I did, Lisa Marie Presley and she got in contact with me. I trained her on the Minx nail application, connected her with the company and the rest is herstory:) She shared her knowledge with me, her on-set, kit set-up, set etiquette and how to get an agent. I’ve worked exclusively with celebrity clients for six years and can teach you, too.
Check out Naja's class to find out the Tea On Becoming A Celebrity Manicurist.
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