If you see a stunning mix of bright colors, intricate patterns and 3D embellishments you’re probably looking at a Mia Rubie nail design. Somehow she makes this crazy mix of prints and colours work. For most of us, attempting this mix of styles would look like a crash in a nail art shop but she pulls off tasteful designs every time. Did I mention Mia’s lines are some the thinnest and most precise the nail art industry has ever seen? Scroll through the gallery above and see for yourself, and be sure to check out her Aztec nail designs they’re out of this world. See? Told ya!
Now read on, lovelies! If you’re considering a career as a celebrity manicurist or opening your own salon, there’s a wealth of helpful tips ahead!
NAIL FILE: Mia Rubie, owner of Sparkle San Francisco, US
1. Why nails? I have loved nails since I was a little kid. I remember painting my nails all the time when I was old enough to hold a paint brush. Acrylic nails in high school changed my life. I thought I was so cool with long, airbrushed square nails. There’s something about a fresh manicure that can make any woman feel good. Add nail art to that mix and it can be even more unique and special feeling. By nature, I am creative and detail focused, so nails have become the perfect canvas for me to be artistic.
2. How and when did you get into the industry? In 2008 I started to notice nail art on the fingers of celebrities. I was mesmerized and wanted to wear those nail looks on myself. But there just weren’t any salons in my area that offered this unique type of nail art. Soon after, I ordered a nail art stamping kit from China. I was hooked. While working at my corporate job in communications at Levi’s I started to get questions and comments: “Where did you get your nails done?!” My answer of course was “I did them!” I have a degree in small business management and a light bulb went off in my head. I could turn this into a business. In 2010 I enrolled in a manicurist program and became licensed in 2011.
3. Highlights of your career, achievements? Building a solid clientele and being in demand enough to leave my corporate career and open my own salon is my biggest achievement. Being signed to an agency was also a huge achievement. I didn’t even know nail artists could be represented! I have worked on photo and video shoots with amazing companies like Sephora, Target, Apple, Charlotte Russe, EBay, Square, ProActive and Mod Cloth. Seeing my work in print has been awesome. I’ve been in NAILS Magazine, C Magazine, 7×7 Magazine and Tipsy.
4. When did you open your salon? I opened in the winter of 2011.
5. To run your own nail salon is a big job, how do you overcome the challenges and find time do everything? It is challenging, and up until this past December I worked 6 days a week, sometimes 7. Automating things has helped. We use an online booking system with automatic appointment reminders so clients can make their own appointments.
Luckily, I now have two great nail artists working alongside me to help out with the salon. We share responsibilities and help each other out. I still struggle with certain areas and am constantly thinking of things we can do better, but there’s not enough time in the day. I’m learning every day to be happy with the organic growth that the salon has been blessed with and to take things slowly while maintaining ambition.
6. Nail care product you can’t live without right now is… The black and the white art gels from Presto. They are the perfect viscosity and pigment for creating thin, detailed lines.
7. The best nail care tip? Keep a file and hand lotion in your purse. I cannot stand to have a chipped or snagged nail in public. I want to tear it off. A file can smooth it out temporarily. Dry, cracked hands and cuticles also bug me. The lotion keeps hands soft and younger looking.
8. Your favourite top coat? For gel, I love Artistic Colour Gloss glossing gel. For polish, I love CND Air Dry.
9. Your favourite nail strengthener? I use Gelish Vitagel Recover for clients with weak or peeling nails. For natural nails, OPI Nail Envy is great.
10. The worst thing for your nails is… To pick your gel off or to use nails as tools! Clients sometimes expect their nails to be indestructible. They are not.
11. Favorite nail art trend? Negative space. It’s so chic and modern looking. I like to spice it up a bit by adding a few gold or silver studs. My clients can’t get enough of it.
12. Favorite colour combination for a manicure? Nude and neon pink.
13. The most adventurous nail art you have ever created? The most adventurous I’d say was a set where each nail had a different style of eyeball on it. It was so fun and weird. And it actually turned out to be my most liked picture of 2014 (ed. – you have to see this ‘eyes’ nail art! It’s in the gallery and it’s amazing).
14. The most interesting campaign you have ever worked on and why? A new product for Sephora (can’t say what it is yet!) I was given the entire product line to play with and challenged to create 20 nail art looks to be used as examples in the product brochure with tutorials for consumers to try at home. I came up with all the looks in advance and then I did them live while a photographer was taking pictures of each step.
15. How do you get inspired for your nail art? I take a lot of inspiration from the world around me, including other nail artists. I can get lost looking at Japanese nail art magazines. I don’t know what the words say but the photos are awesome! The level of detail coming out of Japan is mind blowing.
I am really inspired by natural gems, the ocean and tropical vibes. Fashion, Modern art, street art and pop art speak to me. I love bold, bright colors and lines.
I always ask my clients if they have an idea of what they want. I try my best to make their vision come to life while also putting my personal touch on it. If someone does not have any idea of what they want, I am more than happy to freestyle and create something I’ve been saving in the back of my mind. Something I was inspired by.
17. One piece of advice would you give someone wanting to succeed in the industry? It truly has to be your passion to be a successful nail artist. If you can’t imagine doing it for 8-12 hours a day, then it might not be right for you as a career. I am a firm believer in “you get back what you put in.” For the first year and a half of my business, I worked 8 hours at my day job and then caught the bus across town to take nail clients until late at night, I worked weekends and didn’t have a life. It was hard. But it paid off. After 2 years I was able to close my books to new clients.
Practice, watch tutorials, go to trade shows, meet other nail nerds and learn as much as you can. Never stop learning even when you think you know it all. Get a good foundation of nail education. You can be a good nail artist but you need to know how to be a good manicurist to care for your clients nails properly.
Five Fast Nail Questions:
- Pink or Blue? Pink
- Gel or shellac? Gel
- Studs or Crystals? Studs
- Nail icon? Naomi Yasuda
- When in doubt do… White tribal over a neon ombre
Mia Rubie was interviewed by Maria Vlezko, February 2015. All images – Mia Rubie.