Julie Kandalec is one of MODERN’s and NAILS favorite nail artists. Not only is the very beautiful and talented manicurist a staple at fashion week, but is a celebrity go-to for red carpet events, openings and just about any and everything in the A-List world. Mariah Carey, Camila Cabello, Emma Roberts,Hailee Steinfeld are just some of her celeb clients, and essie, Chanel, Dior Beauty, Urban Decay, Coca-Cola and Victoria’s Secret have used her for advertising campaigns and promotion materials. Her tasteful finishes have been seen at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammys, and within top publications including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and of course MODERN! She is one busy woman!
In order to share all that she has learned, Kandalec has opened a Masterclass Nail Academy, a hands-on curated education experience designed to help all professionals up their nail game. She is touring the WORLD teaching the latest in application, trend and technique with the tag line: “Every client deserves to be treated like a celebrity.” This spring she is headed to Bali and Cambodia to teach, targeting nails pros at hotels and resorts.
MODERN tracked her down to ask Kandalec for her insider scoop on working with celebrities.
5 Tips for working with celebrities:
- Having flexibility and adaptability with your schedule is key - and a necessity. No more 9-5 hours, and it’s not Monday-Friday.
- Know how to do everything -hard gel, gel polish, acrylic, etc. Many celebrities wear acrylic or hard gel. And although it seems obvious, know how to polish PERFECTLY!
- Be ahead of the trends - celebs are the ones who set the trends so it’s pertinent to be able to recognize and forecast trends ahead of that curve.
- Be FAST! Celebs have a crazy schedule and simply don’t have the time to have a relaxing 3-hour appointment. But be prepared for what’s needed. One client needed five hours for a complicated, full re-do including removal, fill, the whole works.
- Be able to work everywhere but at a nail station. Recently I was working with a well-known vocalist and was balancing my monomer on a nail file bridged between my knees!
We wanted to know more. Kandalec shared her three greatest, and not so greatest, moments throughout her twenty years working with nails:
FAVORITE CELEB EXPERIENCE (so far): “essie sent me to do the nails for Anna Faris for an awards show. She was just so lovely. Not only was the experience great, but she actually took the time to write a thank you note to essie! It was something tangible in a sometimes otherwise thankless job.”
GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT: “Let’s just call it a great learning experience,” Kandalec says. “I was booked to do the nails of a very famous woman who is known for her super creative nail art. I got great direction, and came totally prepared, bringing everything including crystals, glitter, 3D stones, full line of acrylic and hard gel and regular gel – and so much more. My kit normally weighs 40 pounds and this one came in at 60!
The celeb arrived around three hours late, walking in from her own nail appointment with her nails completely done – stilettos with extreme nail art. When the art director offered for me to do her nails, she said ‘NO – You are not doing my nails.’ It wasn’t even a ‘no thank you,’ just a flat-out no – and not delivered pleasantly.
It was disappointing because I was excited to create a great and unusual design. Although I still got paid for the ½ day, it still made me disheartened. I’ve heard worse stories, so I’m glad this was not a horror story, just a dream not realized.”
FAVORITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES FOR WORK: “I’ve had a lot of great location shoots, but the three that come to mind immediately are:
- Shooting the Valentino campaign in Rome. It was a great job!
- Shooting the Gigi Hadid Elle cover in Rio De Janeiro. Another fantastic experience.
3. Teaching for the Trade Works Foundation (a non-profit organization) in Jamaica this past summer.”
In this video, Julie Kandalec shares how doing nails can change your life: