Even if you haven’t heard of Ama Quashie yet, you will have definitely seen her work. This session manicurist has had her work on the cover of some of the biggest fashion magazines internationally and works backstage at fashion week season after season. We sat down with Ama to find out how she became hot property in the nail world and scooped up some talon tips while we were there…
So firstly - How did you get into doing nails?
I had been working in TV and advertising since graduating and had begun to crave change as I wasn't enjoying it. One evening, a friend came over who was in a similar situation and after some brainstorming we decided to do courses in subjects we'd always loved to make ourselves happier. I did a jewellery design course at Central St Martins and nail courses with SWEET SQUARED (distributor for CREATIVE NAIL) to start. Initially I just did friends’ nails after work and on the weekends. As I knew people that worked in music I started getting asked to do artists' nails for photoshoots and music videos, and then assisting at Fashion Week and it grew from there really.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is the range of people you come into contact with and how different everyday can be - however that can also be the worst part. Most of the time you don't know where you're going to be the next day, what time, for how long and with who so that can be quite daunting at first. But you get used to it and become more adaptable by nature. Funnily enough now the idea of being in the same place Monday – Friday scares me!
Have you had hiccups on your career path?
It wasn't really a hiccup per se, but one of the worst moments was after a few months of waiting for my first ever VOGUE shoot to come out (with Cara Delevingne and shot by the legendary photographer Walter Pfeiffer), I rushed down to my local Sainsbury's to pick up a copy. I quickly flicked through the issue excited to see my name in print but when I finally found the story they had incorrectly given my nail credit to another manicurist. My heart sank as it was understandably a massive milestone for me. I was so disappointed, I left my trolley where it was and walked out of Sainsbury's without doing any food shopping!
Biggest ‘pinch me’ moment in your career so far?
Last year David Sims shot the entire February issue of VOGUE PARIS and I was lucky enough to do the nails for it. One evening, David and the stylist requested the model to have a nail change to long red nails. She was already fully dressed and stood in the middle of an elaborate set, so I had to fit and glue the nails on and paint them blood red in five minutes while the whole crew watched and waited! At the end of that shoot Aleksandra Woroniecka, the newly appointed fashion director of VOGUE PARIS, came up to me and said I was the fastest and best manicurist she'd ever seen. That was pretty cool.
What’s your opinion on nail art?
I like it - I tend to lean towards more graphic and minimalist designs rather than drawing a face on a nail. I think there’s room for everything; sometimes a popping solid colour, sometimes cute designs, sometimes even a really good manicure with just a clear base. Do as you feel.
What do you think will be big for nail trends for this summer?
Bare nails with a hint of colour were pretty big on the runway for SS18 and this can be done in the most minimal way. For example, a single vertical red stripe down the middle of each nail or more daring such as metallic gold moon and tip leaving the centre bare. In regards to shape - I'm an almond girl for life as it’s very complementary and classic, think Barbara Streisand. But I do think long squares will be big this summer too.
What nail colour would you be gutted if they discontinued?
There’s a CHANEL colour called Vibrato which is the most perfect cobalt blue, I’ve had it for a couple of years and it’s nearly finished which is my current panic as it was a limited edition.
Do you have an all-time favourite polish brand?
I have a few to be honest. In terms of colour selection, CHANEL are always good as are YSL, which for some reason is a brand that’s underrated for their polishes. I’ve also recently got into KURE BAZAAR which has a non-toxic (10-free) formulation and is 85% natural.
Ama's Three Tips for Healthy Looking Nails
1. Get yourself a good base and top coat.
They not only sandwich the colour in but the base stops the colour from potentially staining your natural nail and the top coat gives a professional finish. My favourite base is the Apricot Base Coat by DIOR (which is amazing by itself too) and SECHE VITE Top Coat is a long-standing industry favourite.
2. If you have gels DO NOT, I repeat, do not peel them off yourself! Even if you can’t be bothered to go to the nail salon!
I can't count the amount of times people say to me gels are ‘bad’ as they've messed up their nails. It’s the equivalent of having hair extensions, pulling them out with your bare hands and then complaining/being shocked when your hair gets dragged out with it.
3. And finally, stay moisturised.
No point having the perfect paint job with rough edges, right? I have a small bottle of cuticle oil in my handbag. ESSIE’s Apricot Oil is my fave. Also, a good hand cream keeps skin looking and feeling fresh. I love L'OCCITANE Shea Butter Hand Cream - it’s the best.