Beyond the Nail

Last month we wrote about the diverse landscape of nail color collaborations, driven in part by the enjoyment many young adults get from creating nail art and sharing it on social media. This has led to ongoing demand for new colors, finishes, and combinations thereof.

Some of those amateur nail artists, along with professional salon owners, editorial nail artists, and celebrity nail stylists, have become influencers, attracting large followings on social media as they share their creations, as well as tutorials so their fans can duplicate their looks at home.

Naturally, endorsements and collaborations have followed for some, with an emerging group of leading nail influencers extending their names and brands over the past few years, almost exclusively into closely related categories such as nail color, nail stickers, and manicure tools. A few examples:

  • Tom Bachik, known for his work with Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, and other celebrities, paired with Tweezerman for an expert manicure set in 2020. Retailing for $65, the salon-quality package includes a variety of clippers for different needs—cuticles, hangnails, toenails, and fingernails—as well as a cuticle pusher and a nail file. Bachik has also served as a brand ambassador for nail color label OPI.
  • Madeline Poole (MP Nails) paired with Sally Hansen for a collection of six nail colors in retro 1980s and 1990s shades, dubbed the Complete Salon Manicure Madeline Poole Collection. The collaboration took place in 2018, after Poole had worked with the company as a global brand ambassador for four years. This initiative represented the first influencer collaboration undertaken by Sally Hansen. Poole has also worked with The New Black on limited collections of nail color.
  • Teyana Taylor, a singer, dancer, actress, model, and influencer, partnered with her personal nail stylist, Coca, to open a nail salon in Harlem, called Junie Bee Nails, in 2018. She simultaneously became an OPI brand ambassador, and the salon carried OPI’s extensive product line. While the salon closed in 2020, the brand’s social media presence lives on. In summer 2020, Taylor was featured in a lipstick collaboration with MAC Cosmetics and, in January of this year she paired with Pretty Little Things for a limited apparel collection; neither was tied specifically to the Junie Bee brand, however.

ManiMe, which makes stick-on gel manicures, has been a leader in nailfluencer collaborations, creating collections for Bana Jarjour (a.k.a. Banicured), Cassandra Marie, Alicia Torello, Mei Kawajiri (Nails by Mei), and Jessica Washik, among others. In February of this year, it partnered with four Black nail artists, Canishiea J. Sams, Mimi D, Lux K, and Spifster Sutton, for a limited collection featuring two looks from each influencer. A portion of proceeds goes to charities selected by the artists.

A number of “nailfluencers” have also been involved in partnerships with fashion and other brands. These are often centered on the creation of nail designs to complement new product introductions, with still life or runway images incorporating the products and associated nail art used in advertising and on social media. Some of these partnerships, especially if long-running, could lead to collaborative products in the future.

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