This Women's History Month, Nailpro is celebrating by sharing the stories of five women in the nail industry that we consider to be trailblazers.
Vanessa Sanchez McCullough (@nailzbyvee) is a celebrity nail artist. Below, she shares her story, including what advice she would give to other women nail techs who are looking to be just as much of a trailblazer.
Nailpro: How/when did you get started in the nail industry?
Vanessa Sanchez McCullough (VSM): My career in the nail industry has two parts – one when I was a teen, and I worked giving manicures at my mom’s hair and nail salon. I learned so much back then, and it contributed greatly to the second part when I restarted working in the industry. After working in the TV and film industry as an assistant editor and ultimately the managing director of a film production company, I came back to nails when I wanted more control of my time. I needed more flexibility to raise my kids. Going back to the nail industry was the best decision I had made.
Nailpro: What makes you passionate about nails?
VSM: My passion for nails runs deep. I didn’t realize how much I loved the nail industry until I became an educator for CND. I attended their training session, which is called Boot Camp, and fell deeply in love. I refer to myself as a nail nerd because of how much I love all aspects of nails. Whether it’s art, structure, anatomy or color theory, I obsess over it! I love the idea that I can create small sculptures and paintings on a nail. It’s exciting to me.
Nailpro: What is one of your favorite memories in the nail industry?
VSM: One of my favorite memories of working in the nail industry was seeing my work for the first time on a magazine cover. When I moved to Los Angeles, I met Christina Applegate, and she asked me to do her nails for the cover of Fab Fit Fun magazine. It was the cover, and I had never done this kind of work before. I was SO excited! It was a quick job; however, it was my first cover, and I was over the moon about it. It’s what really started my career in LA.
Nailpro: What advice do you have for any women in the nail industry who are looking to make waves in the way that you have?
VSM: The nail industry is very competitive. You need to have thick skin and really be a go-getter. Trying to set yourself apart from the rest is the most important skill you should focus on. There are tons of manicurists out there, but finding the skillset that you excel at is a great way to set yourself apart. I focused on my skills of giving a meticulous manicure and my eye for color and art. This skill, backed with confidence and assertiveness, helped me get to the point that I am at now. There is no giving up! Set goals and make sure you accomplish them.
Nailpro: What are any goals and aspirations you have for your career going forward?
VSMC: Each year I set goals for myself. If I work hard enough to accomplish those goals, I set more goals. It’s early in the year, and I set goals in January for the 2023 year. I will not stop until I accomplish them. My biggest goal is to have at least five U.S. magazine covers. I had my first cover come out in February for Harper’s Bazaar with Paris Hilton, and in March, I have my second cover coming out for W Magazine with Jennifer Coolidge. That leaves three more to do, and I know I can do it! After 2023, I just want to continue to soar. I want to work as much as I can creating gorgeous nails. I want for people to continue to see that nails shouldn’t be an afterthought but instead a big part of a completed fashion look. Nails are accessories that finish a great fashion statement. Without nails, a look is just incomplete, and I want to make sure I keep contributing to this.