As winter fades out gradually, and the dry and dusty air of springtime creeps in — our skin, but most importantly our lips always face heat damage. And from our mother’s advice, Vaseline will always be efficacious, but in the age of self-care and consciousness, taking it that extra step with an all-natural lip mask might be able to take your lips from soluble to soothed and plumped. This is where KNC Beauty comes in.
An increased desire for beauty brands with authentic origin stories and uncompromising quality, experts a new wave of the everyday luxury item — masks. We’ve seen the surge of the casual ever-so chic yet indulgent beauty lines that range from pimple patches, eye masks, sheet masks, and more. But more authentic beginnings and innocent intentions reveal KNC beauty and the heritage that goes beyond just a vegan lip mask.
After a quick trip to Tokyo, revealed an abundance and a hypervisibility of lip masks. But what Kristen Noel Crawley — Founder of KNC Beauty and Creator of the KNC School of Beauty — found was a barren niche in this particular industry for clean beauty.
From there, Kristen launched her highly favored brand rid of harsh chemicals, fragrance, and artificial dyes in 2016, and the rest of her empire built up through natural evolution. For the beauty brand owner, touching the masses in a highly impactful way doesn’t stop there. As a Black woman it’s only deemed natural to want to be a part of a more extensive social and cultural movement, thus prompting the launch of KNC’s School of Beauty. As a direct response to the Black Lives Movement, Kristens says “I really felt this sense of despair as I wrestled with how to be of support to my community during that difficult time. I truly wanted to find a way to give back and uplift the younger version of myself who wanted so badly to make it as a young Black woman in America.” The School of Beauty mentorship program is for Black female beauty founders looking to take a step in a similar direction as Kristen and contribute to an iconic industry where Black women have dominated in the past.
So, masks are such a niche category of beauty, and even then you mostly focus on your lips. I feel like as Black women we have such a strong history around our lips and the upkeep and maintenance of them. What inspired you to focus on the maintenance of lips instead of the dressing of them?
Growing up in the Midwest, I struggled with chronically chapped lips for a long time, to the point where I had tried every balm on the market and nothing was working. I desperately wanted to find a remedy that would revive my dry lips and provide relief in a healthier, more balanced manner. The petroleum and added chemicals in some of our favorite drugstore brands were not working for me, and it was time I found a new method. I wanted to develop a hero product when I launched KNC Beauty that could withstand the test of time and actually spoke to the process of self-care. As Black women, we absolutely must prioritize our skin and the journey we each take toward finding comfort in our natural self. Lipsticks and glosses are a lot of fun and can make or break even the best beauty look, but the process of actually showing yourself love and patience is what I wanted to hone in on. Sometimes when I put my KNC masks on it’s the first time in the day I’m actually able to take a moment and reflect on everything. Even just 15 to 20 minutes of meditation or relaxation every day is important.
You were in Tokyo when you first saw and fell in love with a wall full of masks, I feel like Asian beauty is such a phenomenon. What else did you learn about Asian beauty and how has it translated into what you make now?
Apart from our All-Natural Lip Mask, Asian beauty trends have had a major impact on both the design and aesthetic behind KNC Beauty. When it comes to developing our product packaging and marketing materials I’m consistently inspired by their unique approach to design. I’ve always loved the fun and colorful nature of advertising in Asia, and I feel the reason they’ve been so successful within the beauty market is because this sense of creativity translates especially well amongst consumers. Their attention to detail and level of artistry is unmatched, and I think it’s led to some incredibly eye-catching product design. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a young female illustrator from the Philippines who has helped to curate some of my favorite KNC motifs. I really am impressed by her vision as an artist, and I hope to have more collaborative opportunities like this in the future.
Why do you think there weren’t any natural lip masks on the market, and what made you want to be the first? Are you a health-conscious person in general, or was it a certain reaction you had to the non-natural masks?
I’ve always had an adverse reaction to the fan-favorite lip products everyone knows and loves. For a long time now, I’ve known that my skin craves the clean beauty approach and typically doesn’t react well to some of the more synthetic ingredients these brands use. When I was in Tokyo and discovered the lip mask phenomenon, I was so struck by how unique the concept was, but I simply could not find one version with a complete list of all-natural ingredients. I personally am hyper-aware about what I’m using on my face, so I was surprised that the Asian market had not capitalized on the clean beauty & skincare trend. When I got back to the U.S. I made it my mission to create a product that would be sensitive to all skin types and didn’t use any of those chemicals we can barely even pronounce! I think it’s important to have the option of clean beauty products when building out your skincare regimen.
What were some obstacles you faced when first making your products and what would you tell your younger self now about the trial and error process?
I think the biggest obstacle I faced, in the beginning, was that I had very little prior experience and knowledge of the beauty industry. When I decided to launch KNC Beauty I had quite a small understanding of supply chains and the production process, so it really was on me to build my skills and expertise from the ground up. I’ve had amazing mentors along the way such as Barbara Sturm and Cassandra Grey who have helped me to better understand the market and the needs of beauty consumers out there. With this guidance, I was able to identify the true KNC customer who in turn I built my brand aesthetic around.
There were definitely a lot of starts and stops when I first got going, but I’ve always told myself to just do it and keep the engine running. I think I would tell my younger self that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself always and to afford a bit of self-care and patience as I try to get my business off the ground. These days I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor, but I think it’s important to do that along the way as well.
Being a Black entrepreneur, can you tell me about KNC School of Beauty?
We were inspired to build the KNC School of Beauty as a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which came to such a head in 2020. I personally was at home with my kids due to the pandemic, and I really felt this sense of despair as I wrestled with how to be of support to my community during that difficult time. I truly wanted to find a way to give back and uplift the younger version of myself who wanted so badly to make it as a young Black woman in America. This sparked my idea to develop a safe space for ambitious, entrepreneurial young women to connect and share their experiences of triumph & failure within the beauty industry. We wanted a panel of successful Black women to join us every session to further impart wisdom on the conversation, and we were also able to secure my longtime brand partner Revlon as an exclusive sponsor for each seminar. They so graciously have donated $10K each time to a winning participant of the school as they kick start their dreams and begin building a business. Now after five sessions, we’ve gone on to include fashion as a topic of discussion as well and are looking forward to expanding this enterprise even more as we take it into the new year.
What is something so complex about the beauty world that people are blind to, and something so easy about the world that more people should know about?
I think most people don’t understand the complexities of actually designing a product from start to finish and the countless steps you go through to finally get it right at the end. It can be a painstaking process throughout but the reward is absolutely worth it. I also think people make their skincare regimens a lot more difficult than they need to. Hero products actually work nowadays and we have the opportunity to limit our excess here by narrowing our routine to just a few key items. Less is more and that’s where I’ve always found success in my skincare journey.
The packaging and beauty direction behind the brand is so whimsical and pink. Is the brand direction something you were so sure of when you first started or kind of an afterthought?
I definitely had a strong brand vision in mind when I started to build out the world of KNC Beauty. I wanted it to be playful and fun with a level of appeal for all age groups. I always say that our products are for everyone, ages 8 to 80, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I first started to develop the artwork that would embellish our packaging designs, I was inspired by a retro, 70s style font that I felt spoke to the cute and whimsical nature of the brand. The colors I use are some of my favorites, both in my beauty cabinet and throughout my wardrobe. I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection between fashion and beauty, which I think has helped to inform the chic and elevated manner with which I present the KNC product line. It’s important that our products be both effective and visually appealing at the same time.
You collaborated with Bape which is iconic, what is your history with them and how did the process of pairing a streetwear brand with a beauty brand come along.
Our collaboration with BAPE really was one for the books as we were the first skincare brand to partner on a major capsule collection within the streetwear space. I’ve long been a “Bape-head,” supporting the brand and repping their iconic camo print since the days I first fell in love with street style. I think Nigo is an absolute genius, and I was completely floored when they reached out about collaborating on something together. It was such a pivotal moment for me and my brand; that feeling that you’re truly being recognized by your peers for all the hard work you’ve put in.
Overall, the process took two years in total from the ideation phase all the way to launch. I really learned so much during that time as we were not only working with such an established brand, but we were also doing so under the guise of the pandemic. This of course slowed everything down, but once we finally dropped the collection it was such a perfect moment to watch our customers and the amount of excitement they showed this drop.
You have a close-knit list of products, what can we see for the future of KNC Beauty?
We definitely want to keep increasing our mask game by expanding the line of KNC masks to fit other needs. I’ve been so lucky to play with this self-care concept for over 5 years now, and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface! We have a few other collaborative projects coming down the pipeline that we’ll have to keep secret for now, but I’m so excited to be working with partners that believe in the brand and want to watch it grow. We’ve got a lot of exciting things in store!
We’ve all heard of Baccarat Rouge 540, but who’s in the Mood for Oud? Maison Francis Kurkdjian has perfected the sultry sensation of satin in their Oud Satin Mood collection. The brooding fragrance starts with a coveted foundation of oud wood from Laos and builds into an enveloping embrace as if nestling into a delicate piece of satin.
First created in 2016, the satin mood collection is being expanded, introducing a scented candle, elixirs set and a limited-edition engraved bottle to excite the senses at every turn. The limited-edition bottles feature mashrabiya inspired decor delicately hand-engraved by Parisian artisans. With only 350 pieces–each requiring eight hours of craftsmanship–the bottle speaks to the scent’s unique personality and its ability to light up a room.
Balancing an airy romance, with a more mature gravitas Oud Satin Mood’s olfactory notes include violet accord, geranium, Bulgarian rose oil, cinnamon from Ceylon, Turkish rose absolute, Siamese benzoin, vanilla, and of course, oud from Laos.
The sillage will stay with you all day, imbuing a sense of luxury, sensuality, and mystery to make even the mundane feel mystical. In the traditional French composition, its major and minor notes strike the perfect balance for a melody that is soft, yet strong; daring, yet comforting.
Below, office sits down for an exclusive interview with the CEO of Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Marc Chaya to discuss the legacy of the perfume brand.
When did you begin working in the perfume world?
I met Francis Kurkdjian as a friend, at a dinner party. And I learned that he was a perfumer. And at the time, I had no idea what a perfumer was, how the industry worked, et cetera. And we became very close friends. And with time, I started simply feeling that it was totally unjustified or — maybe to be stronger — unfair that an extraordinarily creative mind could not exist on his own, like a fashion designer, or an architect, or a celebrity musician could exist on her or his own. And, Francis was the perfumer behind extraordinary perfumes that really left an impact on the industry. Perfumes such as Jean-Paul Gautier’s ‘le male’ or Narciso Rodriguez’s ‘for her.’ Some of them, I already had in my collection, yet I did not know his name.
And eventually, we started first a great friendship. We traveled together, we brainstormed a lot and the more I got to know the persona, the more I was fascinated by his overall creative genius. His dream was to scent the fountains of Versailles. His dream was to take perfume outside of the bottle into a wider artistic expression. So I started really working with him on making his vision come true and making his vision come true in a sustainable fashion, artistically, strategically, but also from a business standpoint. Many years after we met and many years after we started collaborating, the idea became a certainty. The floating idea that carries the name and the vision of a celebrity perfumer could exist started moving from theory to reality. And to that, we also that the cornerstone that is very unique in this industry, which is to be creative-driven, as opposed to marketing-driven. Our aim since day one, when we entered the industry and we decided to create our Maison, was to allow a genius perfumer to express his vision freely and to make sure that our marketing and the way we speak to our consumer is only the expression of the creative Idea. So marketing is at the surface of a creative idea. So that’s how it took me almost 10 years to move from being a consulting executive into a fragrance executive.
You’re talking about this idea of taking the perfume out of the bottle, you’re trying to sell something that will live outside of it. Do you remember the first project you tackled when attempting to transform this idea of perfume not just being a scent?
I remember it as if it was yesterday. We were very young. That was 17 years ago—almost 19 years ago. It was 2003. It all started one day, Francis came to me after we went to Japan, then we went to LA, and we ended up in New York, then Paris. And during that travel, we really got to know each other better. And he would relay to me his dream of scenting the fountains of Versailles. He thought it would be extraordinary to scent the fountains of Versailles, the Chateau of Versailles. Because in the past, when they threw parties, they used to scent the fountains because the ambient atmosphere was smelly. So they were surrounded by a bad smell, and they would put fragrance inside the fountain to make the air more enjoyable. The scent would go into the water, from the water into the air, and they would, they were able to scent the gardens of their Versailles by putting perfume into the fountains. And his employer at the time was a fragment slab.
And all that they could offer him was to do a collaboration with the food and beverage section. I would be like, “Oh my God, you are one of the greatest perfumers. Your ideas are extraordinary. They are uplifting. They are full of poetry. They are joyful, they are spectacular. And I would really want you to scent the fountains of Versailles, versus just collaborating on scenting the wine section of a supermarket.” Even though it’s a luxury supermarket, it’s still the supermarket, and “You deserve more than that.” And so, that’s how the idea came into reality. Francis and our PR person at the time that was helping us went to see the CEO of the Chateau of Versailles, and the lady eventually became the minister of culture in France. And she said, “let’s do it.”`
The whole idea was to show that the expression of fragrance can go beyond structuring or creating scents to be layered on our skin, and could be a vector for creativity, for an art installation. It is a sense, you know, smelling is the sense that has been underused by humanity. We only use it to recognize food. We use it to recognize a good smell, but no one really taught us how to smell. And we never associated smell to something that is artistic, the way we associate color, music, structures, culture, and shapes.
You talked about this idea of creating poetry with your scents. What words do you think the brand whispers to its customers?
I would say poetry, joy, our number one is joy. We really want to awaken the childhood that sleeps inside every one of us. The joy, the uplifting, the exaltation — you can say that. The smile, anything that could make you smile, anything that we would make you feel happy. These are feelings that are very precious to our mission. We believe also in simple pleasures. You know, we believe that life can be full of great joys and simple pleasures. And that sometimes, you know, more can be less. For example, it’s better to eat great pasta with fresh water than to eat bad pasta with hot champagne.
We want to bring joy to our friends, to our customers, and to our community, by offering them the freedom to live the way they want to wear their perfume, the way they wanna experience their perfume. So, yeah, joy, childhood, all of these words resonate very strongly. But also another keyword is maybe Paris because Paris is our inspiration and not the cliche Paris.
Your brand has become nothing short of iconic. What do you believe sets you apart from other perfume houses?
Something very fundamental and very true. It is the fact that we are autonomous of a living perfumer, one of the greatest living perfumers of our time. And the fact that we have built this house to capture and relay his talent. To capture his ideas, to capture his creativity, to make them happen, and to give them to our customers. And so we are a creative-led house, a bit like a fashion house that has a celebrity fashion designer. We are a fragrance with a celebrity fragrance designer, one of the greatest on earth and everything we do comes from a genuine creative message. As opposed to yet another marketing concept.
Can you talk about the process between you and Francis and your team and what it’s like when you want to introduce a new scent for the season? How are you using your nose intelligently to kind of dictate the new season smell?
So it’s interesting, unlike fashion, we work years in advance. So for example, the scent that we will release next year in June was finalized this year in January. So almost 18 months before it reaches the market, it has been finalized. It all starts with an idea, a conversation between Francis and I, an idea that he brings to me, an inspiration saying, “I feel that this could be beautiful. I have this inspiration in mind.” The name acts as an inhibitor as a starting point. He always makes the name. And so our first conversation is about the concept, the creative concept, the name, the idea, the emotion that the scent is gonna relay. And once we are both aligned on that, we take it to our team for their complementary ideas and approval, and then Francis starts working. And the creative process can take up to a year, from start to finish in terms of formulation and terms of creating the scent.
And one day he would come to me with a little vial, different ones, for me to start evaluating the scent. And I’ve been working with him now for many years, and we’ve started this Maison 13 years ago. I’ve always refused to use ingredients’ names, and I only use colors and emotions to give him my feedback. I can say it is not bright enough or it’s itchy. Or I would use things that he only can understand, but help him fine-tune scents, and take it to the level that he wants. But what is unique about us, is that at the end of the day, he has the final say, which means that the scent that we go into the bottle is the scent that Francis is at ease with.
And we can sometimes decide to go against the team recommendation because we wanna follow Francis’ creativity and gut feeling. What is also unique is that we can decide and announce a launch, and then cancel the launch. For example, we can say to all of our network, that we are launching a new scent in the fall of 2022, and we can then go to them and say we’re not ready. The reason being— creativity is not something that falls to you from the sky, and if you’re not ready, then you’re not giving your best. And if you’re not giving your best, then you should not release the scent. And so once we finalize the scent in parallel, we work on the packaging on the identity. And what’s beautiful is that everything flows very easily and very coherently because everything is derived from the creative idea. So the creative idea becomes a source of inspiration for the packaging, the colors that we want to choose for the visual campaign, for the video, for the words that we’re gonna use to describe the scent. And from there, we make it happen and then we roll it globally with the right marketing.
Some of your scents have gone viral through social media, on platforms like TikTok. Have you turned more into social media after this, to see what the general public is feeling about scents? Or wanting to smell?
So wanting to smell like— no. Again, we are not listening to trends. We try to live within our creativity within our principles and our emotions and in accordance with what vibrates into Francis’s mind at a specific point in time. But we do look at social media. First of all, I love social media. So I’ll spend lots of time on Instagram and TikTok. These are my two main go-to’s. And I remember at the beginning of COVID, I would go on TikTok and there were quite a few posts about Baccarat Rouge 540. And then one day there was an extraordinary post by a celebrity that went viral. And we started seeing that phenomenon, but it goes beyond social media. I can tell you the story of when I was testing Baccarat Rouge 540, which initially was supposed to be only available for 250 privileged customers.
It was a limited edition scent for the 250th anniversary of the Cristallerie House of Baccarat . So it wasn’t meant to exist. And when we created it, we created it as an artistic conversation with the house of Baccarat for their 250th anniversary. So I was wearing the scent and my Uber driver literally stopped the car, turned back to me, and said, “Sir, what is your perfume? It is just driving me crazy.” And one day I was in New York at William Sonoma and the lady at the cash desk just stood up and said, “Hey guys, someone is smelling so incredibly delicious that I’m gonna have to test every one of you to know what you’re wearing.” And that was Baccarat Rouge 540. And I think, it went viral on social media because it went viral in our society. People would stop you on the street and ask you what you are wearing because the smell is so incredibly beautiful that you want to make it yours.
And so this is only the consequence of the genius of creativity or Francis, who is capable of coming up with this amazing fragrance.
I know you’re not a perfumer, but you obviously you are around notes, fragrances, and ingredients all day. Can you describe what notes are your perfect day include?
Well, I would say it would depend on the day. I do live by the philosophy of the fragrance wardrobe that we foster and promote within Maison Francis. It is the freedom to choose the shape that you want to have on you as a scent every day. Some days I want to be sporty and casual, and I can go to something very citrusy, very crisp, slightly Woody, musky, like our ‘Aqua Universalis’ or with a little bit of Gin tonic, Juniper berry, the top note is fresh, bright. Other days I feel more dressed up and I want to be more outspoken, more warm. And I would go for ‘Grand Soir,’ which is a very woody, a little bit of honey, you know, something very special, but very warm and dressed up. Other days, I just want to be totally rouge. And I go for my Baccarat Rouge 540, and when I wear it, I feel totally uplifted. I feel sexy.
I know you said you have usually some scents in preparation a year in advance. But, moving forward with the new year in 2022, how are you guys moving in terms of scent? What does 2022 smell like?
So in the new year, we are launching a new scent in September. It will be something that you would learn about, I would guess, not later than May -June. So in a few months, but before—since many years we moved away from this industry trend of “what’s new?” Because what’s new today becomes old tomorrow, and you become a machine of mass destruction, creative mass destruction. Because I believe that the scents that we have are extraordinary. They are creative pieces meant to transcend time, to resist trends, and are to be here in a hundred years. And so you need to give them time to prosper. You need to give them time to open, you need to give them time to exist. And the more you launch, the less you would allow to your existing portfolio.
We will give you a roll-on with a high concentration so that it’s a new way to layer on your skin. We would give you maybe a hand cream, we would give you a body lotion, anything that would enhance your experience. And we would keep giving you ideas on how to wear it, where it came from, what inspired Francis when he created it so that you really know your fragrance better, and you stick to it more. And then every two, three years we will come with a big new launch. Our last big new launch was ‘À la rose’ two years ago, which was inside the rose family. And the launch that we have this year is gonna be our biggest launch in two and a half years.
Dries Van Noten, Belgian designer and dominant force in the art of duality, is known for achieving greatness through the unexpected. By melding streetwear with sophisticated couture silhouettes, and clashing patterns with loud hues, the designer has proven time and time again that through boldness, great beauty is achieved.
It only makes sense that the designer would shock the masses yet again, this time around with the introduction of a brand new fragrance and makeup line. Cosmetics and perfumes as we know them are restructured completely through the artistic lens of Dries Van Noten, who approaches this range of products with a fresh perspective on beauty.
The same cleverness that he brings to fashion is now applied to alluring scents and lipsticks, inspired by the arts, culture, and the picturesque qualities of life itself — such as flora and fauna and natural dreamscapes. The launch will later debut a collection of luxurious, buttery creams, scented soaps, and mini-handbag accessories.
This is only the beginning of a magnificent artistic journey. Witness the splendor of Dries Van Noten Beauty by viewing the exclusive photos below.
HBO’s mega-hit Euphoria has kept us all glued to our screens, making the past few Sundays exhilarating — and, of course, a bit anxiety-ridden, as we watch each character sink deeper into their personas, for better or for worse. We’re collectively wrapped up in the thrill of it all, so much so that we may overlook some of the central creative decisions that truly propel the plot.
Maddy’s vintage couture outfits aren’t just extremely well-informed stylistic choices, but a reflection of her tough “I’m that bitch” outer shell. Labrinth’s immersive melodies aren’t just pretty background tunes, but a way to instill even more emotion into each raw scene. When it comes to Euphoria, the nuance has always lived in the details. But perhaps some of the most unsuspecting details are the most monumental — perhaps even a manicure can tell an entire story.
If we’ve learned anything from the show so far, then we should know that that is absolutely true. Natalie Minerva, aka Nail Swag, is the celebrity nail artist who is bringing yet another layer of personality and depth to the beloved series.
Behind the Euphoria cast’s perfectly primped and polished nails actually lies a macrocosm of meaning, and office sat down with the mastermind behind it all to get the details.
How did you get started with nail art? I know it takes a really steady hand, so did you have an interest in other forms of art before?
I was definitely always an artsy kid growing up. I wasn’t big on TV or video games. I really was more interested in painting and making things, so that’s definitely always been a part of me. And my whole family’s like that too. My mom has always been that way. My grandma and both my sisters work with their hands too. One of them is a makeup artist and the other one is a chef. So it kind of runs in our blood. But originally, I started doing nails kind of selfishly. At the time, I was going to school and I didn’t have a lot of money — but I wanted cool nails to go with my outfits because I worked for this really big party. It’s called ‘A Club Called Rhonda’ and it’s very eccentric, gay, straight, trans — just kind of a mixture, a mish-mosh of people. So I always wanted to bring it when I was there. I started doing my own nails and posting on Instagram and I started garnering some interest from friends and stuff. I thought, ‘Maybe I should go to nail school and do this as a side hustle.’ Then actually that year at Coachella, I was talking to a friend and they said, ‘You should just go for it. You should do it. You love doing this.’ And I thought, ‘I really do. I can’t stop thinking about doing nails.’ So at Coachella I actually called my dad and I quit college and I went to nail school. And that was that, that was it. That’s how I started Nail Swag.
That’s amazing. But that’s how it goes with anything that you’re passionate about. Like you said, you couldn’t stop thinking about it. That’s when you know that you kind of just have to make that jump.
Oh, I was obsessed. And even to this day, I mean, I’ve been doing it for 11 years now. And I still feel that way. It’s crazy. It’s a really fun job. I get to work with so many different kinds of people and I get to make art every day. And I think making art in the traditional sense, like physically painting something or drawing something, is sort of more rare these days. Most art is in the digital form, so doing something in a more traditional sense is really cool to me. It brings me a lot of joy. And it brings other people joy too. It’s a feel-good job.
How would you describe your artistic vision or just your general approach to nail art in three words?
In a very simplistic way, ‘Read the room.’ And what I mean by that is, when I see a person I immediately am trying to pick up on their style and their personality. I’m not gonna give hot pink nails to a girl who is kind of goth-y and wears a lot of black. It’s really important to interpret their taste. That’s another three words I’d use to describe my approach too — ‘interpret their taste.’ Another three words would be, ‘Just have fun.’ It should be fun. It should be filled with joy, you know? I always try to be in that mindset when I’m coming up with stuff and also talking to the person and interpreting what it is that they like and what they’re feeling.
And I think that’s what makes this medium of art so unique. As you said, there’s so much freedom to do out of the box things — especially now that you’re working on Euphoria. When you’re approaching these designs for the characters in the show, do you usually already have an idea in mind for a certain character or is it more of a collaborative process between you and them?
It’s super, super collaborative. Alexa has such a creative mind. She and Barbie — and all of them — they know their characters best. So I really listen to what they have to say and their input. They always come up with really great ideas and then I’ll kind of take that and we’ll put our own spin on it. So usually, I’ll make a few samples and then I receive guidance from them. They’ll say things like, ‘I like this one the best,’ or ‘Can we combine those two?’ And, of course, Donni has input as well, and Sam, the director and creator. So it’s really such a team effort. It’s great because there are things that maybe I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of myself, but when I get input from the actors and the team, new things come up. That’s what the goal is, right?
Other types of art, like painting, can be more internal processes. It’s an independent process most of the time — but this is so different. The cool part about this is that your canvas is someone who also has beneficial contributions. It makes these ideas come to life even more because you have many different minds working at it.
Clients, all the time, bring new concepts to me and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I would never have come up with that and it’s epic.’ I love it. And that brings new creativity to me as well. It’s really a symbiotic relationship.
And I know even prior to Euphoria you’ve worked with other celebrities for red carpet looks and for editorials, but how did it feel joining the Euphoria team and starting this new chapter?
Oh my gosh. It’s so gratifying and awesome because not only is it such a creative show, but everybody that I work with is amazing. Alexa has been such a good friend, truly. She’s someone that I trust and she’s a good person, and Barbie too. I mean — all of them, they’re all amazing. That’s been what I’m most grateful for. Not only do I get to create really interesting designs, but I get to work with people that I like and that I vibe with, and that’s the ultimate goal — always, with any job. Working with people that you really appreciate and respect.
I read that you watched Season One of Euphoria and something that stuck out was the lack of nail art present, and how that was something you thought you could help with. Especially since it’s a very artistic show. They’re very focused on really displaying the style of each character and putting these powerful Gen Z trends at the forefront of fashion. So on that note, why do you personally think nail art has become something so synonymous with Gen Z style?
I think Gen Zs are really good at noticing and noting the details of things. And I think that might have something to do with their upbringing, because of them having more exposure to technology earlier in life. I mean, even Millennials, I’d say, are not as good at that because we kind of lived this half-life. The first part of our childhood had zero to do with technology. And then the second half had everything to do with technology. So it’s kind of like we’re in this sort of mid-zone, but with Gen Z, that’s not the case. I think that they enjoy breaking these things down; I’ve noticed that on Tik Tok and stuff. Someone mentioned, in a radio interview I heard the other day, they called Gen Z the ‘I Spy’ generation. I thought that was really great because that makes so much sense for them. And I think Gen Z in general, with their style, they’re a lot more exploratory and they’re colorful. They’re a very colorful generation. So nail art makes sense for them.
Definitely. You talked about ‘the details,’ and I think a lot of what your work is about is the details and the nuance and very small things that maybe sometimes you wouldn’t even notice. That’s something I really wanted to talk about because I love Euphoria. I’m literally about to watch tonight.
Oh yeah. Me too!
I’m very excited. Something that really stands out to me about this new season is how much growth we see in each character. It’s not just one of them. It’s all of them. That’s a lot of what Season Two is about — showing that growth. How do you show that through your art with each character? Are there certain things that you feel like your work is heightening or showing to the audiences that are watching?
Definitely. For instance, with Cassie, she’s going through a lot of transitions — clearly. Not necessarily positive ones, but she’s going through transitions. And so with the nails, we kind of wanted to add a little more glitz and glamor for her. Because I think she’s paying more attention to that part of herself — whether it’s in a positive manner or for a boy or it’s for herself — that’s happening. Same with Maddy; she’s finding her own self right now.
Yeah, she’s kind of going the opposite direction.
Yeah, she’s weaning away from the codependency with Nate and she’s finding her own voice and her own identity. So the nails reflect this sleek, sexy independence. That’s how I felt about it. And when talking to Alexa about it, we both wanted it to feel unique for her character.
Speaking of looks in Season Two, do you have a favorite nail look? Maybe it’s something that we haven’t seen yet?
I do have a favorite nail look and it is coming. There are actually two that I’m really, really in love with. I’ll just say this — both are on Maddy. She brings it, you know?
I mean, everyone loves Maddy’s style. She’s always the style icon, so I’m ready for the nails.
One of them is like an Alexa brain-child, and it came out so cool. I love it. But you’ll be seeing it soon. You’ll know.
Okay. I’ll make a mental note — I’ll remember when watching that we talked about this.
You’re gonna know….you’re gonna know.
You’re at such a pivotal moment right now, being a part of the show, and there’s probably so much more growth down the road. How do you plan to continue growing in your work and just bringing new things to the table?
Well, first of all, I’m doing a collection with Mani Me, which is those stick-on gel stickers. That collection’s coming out in March and there will be a Euphoria-inspired one, which will be really fun for the fans. I’m also doing a Coachella one, which will be really cute too. And yeah, I think for me, it’s just about continuing to do really unique and creative work. That’s what fuels me. Maybe some educational stuff too. Sometimes I think that the nail industry kind of lacks good education, so I’ve always wanted to do that, but it’s never really been quite the right time because I’m so busy. Beyond Euphoria, I do Demi Lovato, I do Halsey, I do Paris Hilton. I’m constantly bouncing around from house calls. I also have this idea — I’m in the works of it right now — of doing a nail art exhibition at some point. And doing it properly. Doing it service. I just think that a lot of people look at nails as just beauty and I want people to look at nails as real art, you know?
Yeah. There’s so much that goes into the process that I feel like a lot of people just aren’t super aware of. That’s why circulating educational information could be a really interesting concept.
It’s definitely a plan. I’m talking with Apres Nails about doing some education with them.
Well, I’ll look out for that. I need to learn more about it too. I love the creative aspect behind it, but I’m so bad at doing my own.
It takes time, it really does. Whenever I talk to beginners, I say, ‘Just be patient with yourself.’ My greatest advice is, if you are interested in doing nail art, try to do something nail art-related every day. And that doesn’t necessarily mean doing nails, but maybe also looking up new trends or tutorials or just seeing what’s going on in the industry at the moment. I think that’s so important. Keeping up with the current styles is huge.
I think one of the most intriguing parts of Euphoria is that it almost predicts trends before they happen. The makeup, clothes, nails, hair — it all is projected by the show before we even see these trends forming in real life.
I think it has the potential to be one of those very iconic shows and Sam is just so creative as well. He makes the scenes so cinematic; it’s almost like you’re watching a bunch of movies which I think is super cool. It’s definitely a generational marker.
Take a peek inside Natalie’s inner workings through viewing some behind-the-scenes Euphoria photos below.
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