Meghann Rosales of Nails Y'all is our go-to nail artist in town. She can recreate Matisse, perfectly capture your pet, or just free-style for you. She creates minute, disposable* pieces of art every day in an industry that can sometimes feel undervalued.
Read on for how she balances value, experience, and you know- her next vacation spot.
*Well, you can keep them but it's hard.
I was lucky enough to hear you speak at SXSW about the intersection of nail art and social justice. There were so many ways! Can you tell us a bit about the historical relationship between the industry of manicures and workers’ rights?
Nail salons have a reputation for being cheap and plentiful. But before you pay next to nothing for that too-good-to-be-true mani or pedi, consider how those costs are being cut. Women and immigrants can make a living doing nails with fairly few barriers to entry, and unfortunately, unscrupulous employers have benefitted from long hours, low wages, and cutting costs on equipment, products, and cleaning. That set in place the expectation for clients that manicures should be fast, cheap, and on-demand. In 2015 the New York Times ran a two-part piece exposing the health hazards and workers' rights violations in the industry; I can't recommend the articles enough. Response to the expose was immediate, with clients re- evaluating how their cheap manicures got that way and Gov. Cuomo signing new laws regulating workers' rights and safety in the salon.
New York Times The Price of Nice Nails
New York Times Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers
What aspects do you find are still current?
I think that unfortunately some people still associate nail salons with being quick and cheap. Almost everyone I know has some horror story about a toenail fungus or that time somebody over-filed their acrylic nails. But folks are starting to come around- as we think more about where our food comes from, who's making our clothes, renewable energy, and the like, we're also thinking much more about what we put on our skin, hair, and bodies. Many people are becoming thoughtful and educated consumers who are taking a closer look at nails and questioning exploitative labor practices and toxic fumes. I also think that the proliferation of nail art on Instagram has reshaped how folks see the skills, training, and dedication to our craft that we bring to the table.
Nail art can feel like a commodity industry, with the work being devalued in favor of fast ‘n’ cheap. How do you reframe your business to reflect it’s true value?
I'm very fortunate to have a clientele that likes doing crazy, intricate, personalized nail art. They're onboard with booking in advance and dedicating the time it takes to create a beautiful, long-wearing set of nails. I always include my clients in the process, from brainstorming and sketches to check-ins along the way, and the feedback I get from them is that the level of detail and attention, along with the high quality products I use, is worth the price tag.
You speak intimately with more Austinites than anyone I know, what’s going on out there?
Podcasts! Everyone's listening. I've gotten so many great recommendations, not just for podcasts (Call Yr GF) but for books (Lincoln in the Bardo) and what's streaming and lightweight SPF moisturizers (Glossier). My clients span so many industries and interests- from my ladies at the Capitol to the biology professor to the powerlifters to the dramaturg, they've given me so many fun facts to use if I'm ever on Jeopardy.
Is there a book that helped guide your business?
Stacy Malkan's Not Just a Pretty Face: the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry taught me a lot about the health hazards associated with doing nails. Beauty school doesn't teach you about the risks associated with dibutyl phthalates. Until not too terribly long ago, cosmetologists used formaldahyde tablets to sterilize their tools; today we know that formaldahyde vapors are highly carcinogenic. Obviously I want to provide the healthiest, cleanest environment for my clients but also for myself; nobody wants to huff toxic chemicals for two hours, let alone ten hours a day.
What is your top design request?
Folks are asking for a lot of floral as we head into warmer weather. Pet portraits are big year-round, and so is geometric. Matte had a real moment this fall and winter, and I love a matte pastel for spring.
Is there another nail artist you admire?
Oh man, where do I start? @asabree in Portland always throws something amazing into my feed, and Miami's @i_heart_nailart is killing it, too. Seoul's @nail_unistella is super innovative, and the color combos coming out of NYC's @paintboxnails really speak to me.
What will you be offering at FELIZ?
I'll be doing custom pet portaits, so bring photos of your fur-baby! (Who are we kidding: you know your phone is full of them.) I'll also have some Austin-in-springtime vibes, and some nods to FELIZ designs.
Is there a vendor you are excited to see?
I'm always excited to see Miranda Bennett and Realm! I'm also excited to expand my collection of handmade mugs- they really brighten up my morning tea.
Where is your next vacation?
Possum Kingdom, TX for a week-long World Cup watch party. There's nothing to do out there except eat, nap, swim, and cheer on your favorite teams with themed food and dress.
Find Nails Y'all at FELIZ on May 6th from 11am to 6pm, where she'll be painting flawless nails and giving great advice.
Swing by the Palm Door on Sabine to see some of our favorite designers, sip on a drink and have a relaxing Sunday. See you there!