When celebrities hang out with Bustle editors, we want to give them the chance to leave their mark. Literally. So we hand them a pen, a piece of paper, a few questions, and ask them to get creative. This time, nail artist Sophie Harris-Greenslade is leaving her mark in the Bustle Booth.
For most, a manicure is just another thing to tick off a beauty to-do list, a chance to make the centimetre or so of keratin at the end of your fingers match your outfit, or, if you're Cardi B, a way to feel your most wealthy (the rapper recently tweeted: "when my nails short I feel poor."), but for nail artist Sophie Harris-Greenslade, they're a livelihood and a calling.
There's having a neat set of nails and then there's having original art at the end of your fingertips. Harris-Greenslade deals in the latter. She started her blog, The Illustrated Nail, back in 2011 to showcase elaborate designs spanning everything from Hot Wheels flames to delicate cherry blossoms. At the same time, she started picking up nail clients while selling products at a stall she shared with her sister in London's Spitalfields market. She says of the experience: "I really loved working on that market stall and I met so many amazing creatives, people working in fashion, design, art, music and PR that had their nails painted and took my card."
"I'd love to do Debbie Harry's nails and any of the Spice Girls. Geri was my favourite but I'm not fussy."
The connections Harris-Greenslade made while manning the market stall have led to her working for some seriously high profile clients. "I started getting asked to paint nails at more press events, for fashion shoots, and music videos from the contacts I made at the stall [and] also from people who had seen the work I was doing on my blog," she explains.
But despite trying "not to get wrapped up in that whole celebrity thing" she admits there is one client, and one client only, who left her starstruck — Rihanna. And when it comes to dream clients it's the nails of musicians that Harris-Greenslade would most like to paint. She tells Bustle: "I'd love to do Debbie Harry's nails and any of the Spice Girls. Geri was my favourite but I'm not fussy." But she'd definitely prefer to keep her talents to musical royalty than actual royalty, joking that were she to paint the nails of Queen Elizabeth she'd use "a shade called 'Down with the Monarchy' which I'm particularly partial to."
Harris-Greenslade's journey to becoming the nail boss she is today shows the importance of dreaming big. She says, "I recently discovered an old sketchbook of mine. It contains little drawings of The Illustrated Nail nail polish bottles and products with brand labels, which I guess I once visioned would grace the shelves of a shop. Last year I managed to get my own branded press-on nails sold in Boots. It's made me believe that if you can envision it then anything is possible."
And if you want to make your nails the ideal canvas for your nail tech or yourself, Harris-Greenslade has just one tip: "Use a cuticle oil, it conditions the nail and cuticle making them look instantly better."