Celebrity nail tech Kandi Banks (@MmmKandiYamz) has been a loyal Twitter user for years. With 46,913 tweets and 7,733 followers and counting, she is one of the most active celebrity nail artists on the social network. Banks has bedazzled the digits of Nicki Minaj, Jada Pinkett Smith, Demi Lovato, Lil’ Kim, and Brandy Norwood all due in large part to her Twitter fluency. Banks’ popularity has reached such great heights that she recently opened her own nail salon, KandiLand Nail Art Studio, in Long Beach, Calif. After sharing about her salon’s opening via social media, the line to get in the door for the grand opening wrapped around the block and her book was instantly full for an entire month. We wanted to catch up with Banks to ask the 22-year-old tech about using social media to make her business boom. We thought the best way to get ahold of this super busy nail artist would be to hold a live Twitter chat so she could answer questions while traveling. Twitter followers asked, she answered, and we all hashtagged #AskKandi to keep up with the conversation.
Which top coat and gel top coat do you use?
Seche Vite top coat. Gelish’s top coat works really well.
The background you use to take pictures of your work, how/where did you get that made?
I made it on the computer and printed it out then laminated it.
What do you use to create your 3-D effects? Clay? For example, if you draw a face and add glasses would you make the glasses with clay?
I only use acrylic. I make everything on the nail.
Who was the first celebrity you got to work on?
Natalie Nunn. First big one was Nicki Minaj.
Outside of the fact that you are great with nails, how did you get your celebrity clients?
I get my celebrity clients through word of mouth. People refer them to me or just Instagram.
When opening a new salon, should you have more than two types of mani and pedi services or keep it simple?
People like options, I think you should have more than one for sure…at most 3-4.
What gel brand do you like working with best?
Do you have an assistant who does the manicure work so you can focus on your artistry or do you do it all?
I wish; that would save me so much time!
Which brings me to my next question, about how long does it take you to do a full set with designs?
I take my time, but not too much time. An hour and a half to two hours if it’s all nails.
What is your one piece of advice for anyone that is interested in pursuing the nail business?
Be different. The way to stand out is to not follow what everyone else is doing.
Do you have just a nail tech license or did you go through the cosmetology route?
I only did the manicuring route, though some places don’t offer just that service.
I post all my artwork on Instagram with as many hashtags as I can, but it seems like it isn’t working. What are good hashtags?
All of those hashtags are popular, which is why people don’t get to see it. They’re always getting filtered by new ones. Try making hashtags you would want to search. It’s better if your hashtags are specific.
What’s the secret to getting your gems to stay on?
I use an off-brand gel/glue but I don’t seal my nails in gel, it takes away the shine.
How can I personalize my own table without too much clutter but making it look stylish?
Invest in cute cabinets or drawers that match your table. Pull out only what you need for each service.
I would like some tips on salon set-up and layout for a small studio.
Cute but minimal furniture.
What is your most lucrative service?
I think it’s acrylic. My full sets make me the most money. Then again, I am a really good persuader.
Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
nailgurlnyc on Instagram (@NailGurlNYC on Twitter).
What’s your favorite fast and foolproof nail art technique?
Leopard. It’s simple and fast.
What’s a good way to market your work?
I started posting pics on all social networks. I believe Instagram is the best social outlet because more people are visual.
YouTube and Instagram are my go to references for nail advice. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get it from nature, clothes, music, food, etc. I try not to look at other artists’ work because it blocks my creativity.
What are your favorite brands to use?
I like small name brands and China Glaze.
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