SARAH NGUYEN and her art speaks for itself. 2X NAHA Nail Professional of the Year, featured in MoMA: Is Fashion Modern exhibit, coveted artist to global musicians, brands and fashion labels all while keeping a tight circle and closed book client base in NYC & LA, the Cali born/Boston raised nail artist has created a lane of her own. With a style all uniquely her own, Sarah has grown her CHRMDbySarah (charmed) nail business in NYC, and will be opening her books exclusively for us in our new NYC store. Appointment slots are extremely limited and clients will have exclusive access to purchase special product.
To celebrate, we sat down with Sarah to get her take on the industry, what drives her and how she works with her clients:
How did you get started? Was there a key moment or client that was the tipping point to make this your career? I jumped into nails full time back in 2016, after I reached my breaking point in fashion retail. I worked retail for 10+ years and finally hit that glass ceiling at the job I was at. I reached out to a manicurist in the industry who asked me to assist (mind you I had no set experience, I lied and said I did because I needed the work) and my first assisting job was for the Balmain Yeezy Campaign, that’s when I knew "yah I should be doing nails"...
Your known for your industry standard breaking attitude and aesthetic where does that drive and character come from? It definitely comes from my Ma (the Italian side). My parents taught us to take things with a grain of salt and not to take shit from nobody. With having a few years of set experience and of course with any industry, it can have their clicks and standards. My work was always me, and for a long-time people just didn't understand it. "That's too big" "I could never do that" "That's too much, let's keep it simple" "Those nails are too long" and my sarcastic sass would say "Did I ask you?" ... and shut that shit down because people always have something to say, which fuels my fire to keep pushing my own limits. Now when I see my work being replicated, it's a constant reminder that you're on the right path and that I am an influence in my nail community.
How does your background, ethnicity, and how you live your life, influence your art? Being born of Italian/Vietnamese descent, you're surrounded by BIG FAMILIES both one in the same but completely opposite at the same time. I love having a long line of strong Italian women and strong, prominent leaders on my Vietnamese side ... you put all that together and it’s a force to reckon with. (LOL) I feel that my family and friends are all an extension of me. We keep each other grounded, inspired and motivated. We check each other when needed but also push each other to be better than the day before. I also, love opulence, decadence, jewelry, gold, art deco ... so why not put that on your nails?
What keeps your creativity flowing? What is your mind set going into an appointment with a client and how much creative freedom do you have? I get out in nature, I read a lot, pre-Covid I was hitting museums and galleries religiously ... I watch a lot of animal planet (specifically birds and marine life). I freestyle every appointment, every set, everything. I never go in with a plan. I've always led with my gut because it never steers me wrong. When you are in an intimate setting for 2-3 hours with someone, you're gonna get to know each other on a deep level. When you've developed that unspoken bond with a client, you just go in and see what happens and let the creativity flow. I prefer to take 90-95% of the creative control because I create off the mood... if we're both feeling green, then green it is. I work my best that way.
How do you feel about the current industry and trend of sneakers, streetstyle and nails? And what do you appreciate most about a female’s focus and ownership? Honestly, nails are a lifestyle ... you know, it has become a very hype beast thing to get your nails done... you weren’t doing it until you saw someone else doing it type shit ... but the real nail advocates have authentically repped nails, sneakers & lifestyle together because its who they are ... they don't let the nails wear them. But on the other side of it, I can appreciate that more and more men and women are getting their nails done. Manicures are becoming a staple; nail artists are learning their worth and footprint in this industry and are earning the respect that they deserve. Nails are an accessory!!!! It can complement someone's personality, it’s an extension of who they are. I appreciate that women take the time to make sure they have their nails done, that's their time to relax and gossip and have that therapy session with their nail tech!
What is your philosophy and what feeling do you try to evoke in your work? RESPECT THE ARTISTS BOUNDARIES! Do your research on the artist and see what their aesthetic is. Allow them to have creative control, but also let them know what you do and do not like. Ask questions about their process, pricing and booking. I book consultations prior because I'm big on energy. Having a 2-3 hour hand-in-hand interaction can physically and mentally be exhausting if the client is not the right fit. I want to make sure that whoever is sitting in my seat knows that I'm not in this for the short term, I am here and we're gonna get to know each other so if you're in this, be in it. Educating the client on nail care, not being afraid to try new things, be authentically you and know that when you sit with me, I'm creating a safe space for the both of us. You can come unwind and just chill.