Name: Gracie J
Occupation: Nail Stylist
How We Know Her: The luxe nail pro’s work has its claws all over pop culture.
Why We Chose Her: From working with popular celebs like Yara Shahidi to landing gigs with on trend brands like Fenty, Gracie J has significantly expanded her brand’s reach.
What’s Next: She’s working on her upcoming project, Nail at First Sight Black History Month edition.
Every woman who’s attempting to stop traffic with her lewk, obeys the “nails done, hair done, everything did” rule. If said woman desires double-take attention on her 10 digits, she books a spot on nail artist Gracie J’s jam-packed calendar. Aside from her brand’s must-follow Instagram account (the Editorial Nail), Gracie’s creations have been featured on the pages of Essence, Paper, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. And she’s had collaborations with Puma x MCM and Savage x Fenty.
Gracie’s work really caught fire during her stint as the lead nail stylist on TNT’s Claws, starring Niecy Nash. Her favorite design from the Claws’ set? “The long gold orate extension I did for Riva in season 1,” says the artist who specializes in artsy, minimalist and chic. “Those were so bad ass!”
A close runner up is the spinning rim nail, which took Gracie more than a year to find the pieces for. While those are her darlings, the Internet became obsessed with the Brooklyn-born entrepreneur’s 3D vagina nail design. “[With that design], I realized that I could push my boundaries as an artist to create something that was truly going to make people do a double take. And it did—it went viral,” she confides. “Then someone else got credit for starting the vagina nails trend.”
Not getting credit or being poached by other artists and major glossies is popular in the Capricorn’s line of work. (Now, Gracie keeps her attorney on speed dial for these types of offenses.) And so is not being treated with the same level of respect as makeup artists and stylists. For Gracie, the solution is painstakingly simple.
“On set, staff need to consider us as a necessity, not as an afterthought. We need our own tables. We need our own spaces during fashion week. We need brand sponsorships for major red-carpet events. Please stop shoving us in a corner. It’s rude and degrading,” she says.
While working with celebs like Yara Shahidi and Dascha Polanco and influencers like Jackie Aina provide Instagramable moments, Gracie shines bright when she’s doing it for the culture. Who else would have thought to reimagine Rosa Parks’ prison number or salute Haiti’s independence from colonization as nail art? Her Nails at First Sight Black History Month edition does the most in all the right ways. Gracie is currently collaborating with Tiff McFierce (founder of @look_invslookin) to make next year’s Nail at First Sight BHM celebration an interactive event. “I use this moment to educate my audience and engage them in conversations that would otherwise be awkward, ” she says, considering how much research goes into this passion project. “I use this space and time to bring them into our world and teach [them].” Well played, sis.