Nail Art

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Who Will Win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist Season 5?

In the landmark fifth season of the competition, NAILS Next Top Nail Artist moves its finale to Premiere Orlando to name a winner. Halley Fortenberry, Hemi Park, and Valerie Ducharme will all compete for the biggest title in the nail industry after eight months of online challenges.

Season 5 of NTNA started with some sparkle. Pre-challenge sponsor Swarovski gave the Top 24 and 18 two challenges in the fall of 2017, eliminating 12 would-be finalists. The resulting 12 went on to compete in front of the entire industry in a cutthroat nail art contest that began January 2018 and concludes on June 2. After 10 weekly challenges from sponsors Akzéntz, Bio Seaweed Gel, CND, EzFlow, Gel II, ibd, KUPA, LeChat, Orly, and Wildflowers, two of the Top 12 were left standing. Halley Fortenberry and Valerie Ducharme (both past NTNA competitors) came out of the Wildflowers challenge with a confirmed spot in the finale. Hemi Park secured her win in the final CND Last Chance Design Lab challenge to round out the Top 3.

As Halley, Hemi, and Valerie prepare for their trip to Orlando, they are also working on their final multi-part challenge from CND. Inspired by style director and co-founder Jan Arnold’s love of museums, the Top 3 have been tasked to create sets of nails based on museums from all over the world. A Facebook Live broadcast featuring a technique used to make at least one of these sets along with the final popular vote will determine who will win the Season 5 title. Read on to get to know these three extraordinary women and learn about their climb to the top.

The Comeback Kid: Halley Fortenberry

Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Halley Fortenberry got hungry for an NTNA win after placing seventh in the third season. Known for her detailed line work and exclusive branding on social media, Halley returned to NTNA with a vengeance. After garnering two back-to-back wins in weeks five (Orly) and six (Bio Seaweed Gel), she continued to place in the top for three of the four remaining challenges.

How does it feel to make the Top 3?
Halley: I feel incredibly honored! I’ve worked so hard to develop my craft, especially after being eliminated during Season 3. I applied this year with hopes to make it to at least the Top 3, and I will be forever proud of that accomplishment.

What’s been your favorite NTNA challenge so far?
Halley: My favorite challenge is most definitely Gel II’s Thrill Seeker challenge because it was so fun making the movable parts!

What do you think is the greatest strength of each of your two final competitors?
Halley: I believe Hemi’s greatest strength is her ability to balance and place her color palette beautifully. For Valerie, her strength is the ability to shade flawlessly in portraiture.

What has it been like being in the Top 12?
Halley: Insane! Many sleepless nights, extremely stressful, but simultaneously rewarding. This competition continuously pushes and challenges me to grow as a nail artist and inspires me to create artwork that I never would have thought of creating before.

What has been your best NTNA moment so far?
Halley: When I won my first weekly challenge ever — the Orly challenge launched me over the moon. Scratch that, Jupiter!

Who have been your biggest supporters?
Halley: My family. Most of all, my cousin Melanie, my best friend Tori, my clients, community, followers, and I can’t forget my #NTNAsisters!

What’s your advice to future NTNA competitors?
Halley: Make sure you have plenty of time and patience. Be sure to have great lighting, a crisp device for filming, a reliable computer, WiFi access, video editing software, and an open mind to endless nail art possibilities! Having extremely understanding and supportive clients is also a plus, as well as time management skills (because that could be the death of you).

Finish this sentence: “If I win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist...”
Halley: I will make it a priority to educate and support my fellow nail artists in their journey in perfecting the craft. I’ll wear the NTNA title proudly throughout the entirety of my career.

<p>Week 5</p>

<p>Week 6</p>

<p>Week 7</p>

The Newcomer: Hemi Park

Cupertino, Calif.

Nail artist Hemi Park has lived and traveled all over and incorporates the influence of East and West in many of her creations. She celebrated her five-year anniversary of being a nail tech during the final NTNA weekly challenge and entered the competition fresh off of her first Nailympia wins. Going into the finale she has one weekly win under her belt (Week 7, Gel II) along with the all-important final Last Chance win.

How does it feel to make the Top 3?
Hemi: I am very excited and nervous at the same time. I wasn’t expecting to find out the results of the final Last Chance Design Lab so early. Initially my heart was racing and I felt a little light-headed, but then I felt rewarded for the past six months of hard work.

What’s been your favorite NTNA challenge so far? Least favorite?
Hemi: They all pushed me to go beyond my own limit of creativity and skills. However, I struggled most with Orly Pastel City challenge because I had to start over after 20 hours of work, then finish up everything including a video in under 30 hours.

What do you think is the greatest strength of each of your two final competitors?
Hemi: Halley’s modern and unique style stood out throughout the competition and has been consistent. Valerie’s charming personality shined within her designs and always wowed the audience. We all have very distinctively different styles, and that’s what makes this finale so fun!

What has it been like being in the Top 12?
Hemi: A whole lot of no sleep and coffee. I felt like I was racing uphill on a bicycle the whole time. It has been the most intense time of my life to be honest, but I have no regrets because I literally ate, slept, and breathed nails. I poured my heart into each week.

What has been your best NTNA moment so far?
Hemi: After every submission I had a sense of accomplishment and it was such a pleasure to share my work with friends and the public. But also I knew I could relax for a few hours, so every Monday morning felt like a reward to me.

Who have been your biggest supporters?
Hemi: My friends and clients have been amazing, giving me a lot of support and love. But I have to say my family and my husband Erik are the biggest supporters.

What’s your advice to future NTNA competitors?
Hemi: Get as much education as possible prior to the competition. And get familiar with your video and photography equipment because it’s also very important to properly showcase your beautiful work and techniques. But most importantly, do not compete to be better than others, but challenge yourself to be a better version of you.

Finish this sentence: “If I win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist...”
Hemi: I will probably scream and cry at the same time, but I will try my best to be presentable and try to speak words and sentences instead of mumbling.

<p>Week 7</p>

<p>Last Chance</p>

<p>Week 1</p>

The Academic: Valerie Ducharme

Laval, Quebec, Canada

After 13 years in the nail industry, a Contessa win, and Nails: Mastered completion, Valerie Ducharme ambitiously set out to compete once again in NTNA and open a nail academy. While she only made it to the semi finals for Season 4, Season 5 saw her claim more wins than any other competitor (five, to be exact). Known for her French accent and fun videos, Ducharme will represent Canada in the all North American Top 3.

How does it feel to make the Top 3?
Valerie: I’m having trouble believing it. I remember telling my dad that if I finished in the Top 10 I would be really happy. And here I am in the Top 3. Frankly, I am still trying to comprehend what is happening.

What’s been your favorite NTNA challenge so far?
Valerie: Heartbreaker by ibd and All Dali’d Up by Kupa were my favorites. In addition to being very colorful, my stories for these two challenges were full of meaning.

What do you think is the greatest strength of each of your two final competitors?
Valerie: The creative madness of Hemi is phenomenal. She has creativity that is out of the ordinary and I find her adorable. Halley’s strength lies in the balance of her creations, always impeccable; she has the ability to make her art accessible and understandable.

What has it been like in the Top 12?
Valerie: To be in the top 12 was a goal. To be surrounded by such amazing and talented people made me take the time to develop my creativity in work as well as in my everyday life. It was a unique opportunity that demanded that I dedicate myself full-time to this competition. To be part of it brought me into my art at a level I had been longing for.

What has your best NTNA moment so far?
Valerie: I would say the negative space challenge by Bio Seaweed Gel. I was so sure I would be eliminated because I did not know if the judges would understand what I was trying to do. When I saw that I was part of the Top 3 that week I burst into tears.

Who have been your biggest supporters?
Valerie: When I asked for votes, I was supported by my family, friends, fellow technicians, and even their clients. I must say that my biggest supporter was my boyfriend. Without him I could not have given my 110%. Our daughters could not have had a better father, and I a better partner.

What’s your advice to future NTNA competitors?
Valerie: Do it for yourself, trust your little voice telling you what to do, even if it does not make sense. Be objective in your creations, see what you have done well, and improve your weaknesses. Analyze the comments from the judges. Try to innovate and do what you’ve never seen anyone else do.

Finish this sentence: “If I win NAILS Next Top Nail Artist ...”
Valerie: I will share all that I have learned with the next generation of nail techs! There is nothing that I like more, after creating of course, than to share, teach, and guide my fellow technicians. On a personal note: I will shed tears of joy and happiness. I will take my family to Iceland. This will allow me to savor the experience.

<p>Week 8</p>

<p>Week 6</p>

<p>Week 4</p>

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