October 1, 2020

Tales from the manicurist’s chair

Nail bars have reopened in England as lockdown restrictions have eased.

NUKA Nails in west London is a bespoke nail salon founded and run by Kadimah Aaliyah and Anouska Anastasia. Starting as a pop-up nail bar in Ibiza the business has grown building a loyal clientele who come for the unique atmosphere and original design.

Anouska Anastasia works on a clients nails at NUKA Nails, West London.

Since the government announcement the nail art duo have been in the process of moving into new premises. They opened on Monday in order to test working in the new space under the new measures and intend to open fully next week once they have fine tuned their set up.

NUKA Nails salon in West London

“I came here today to get my cuticles in check by Kadimah, the cuticle specialist, to experience a nice manicure and of course the art which is phenomenal,” says Kwasi Ritchie-Row, who has travelled from east London.

Kadimah Aaliyah works on Kwasi Ritchie-Row's nails

“I found out about them via Instagram and now I am obsessed with everything they create.

“I’ve missed the interaction that Kadimah and Anouska create. It’s very relaxing and it feels like you are visiting your best friends.”

Kadimah Aaliyah works on Kwasi Ritchie-Row's nails
Presentational white space

“A client can come in and be having a bad day and you can really lift their mood – I really enjoy that side of the work, so during lockdown that has been a big miss for me,” explains Kadimah. “Not being open during lockdown has been a big worry especially as we had to move salons.”

Taiba Akuhuetie has her nails done by Anouska Anastasia

Taiba was another client who visited to help the women test their new salon space.

“Every time I go out I’ve been getting stressed when I look down at my hands, but I know I can’t do this myself in the way that I want.

Taiba Akuhuetie has her nails done by Anouska Anastasia
Presentational white space

“Getting them done today is going to make me feel so much better. Even when I’m scruffy, if I’ve had my nails done I feel fine. It really makes me feel good about myself.”

Kadimah Aaliyah and Anouska Anastasia of NUKA Nails

“A lot of our clients have been struggling,” says Anouska. “Some have been trying themselves and failing because painting your nails is hard.

Anouska Anastasia works on a clients nails at NUKA Nails, West London and the charm she made in support of the NHS. Image copyright BBC / NUKA NAILS

“Working from home has been a full time job – we have been running online master classes and tutorials and we made a nail charm to thank the NHS during lockdown.”

Luce from North London, one of the first customers at The House of Lady Muck

“It’s taken this one manicure to completely change my sense of wellbeing, my outlook and to bring back a positive feeling and happy vibes from before lockdown,” says Luce, from north London, one of the first customers at The House of Lady Muck, a nail bar in the West End.

Luce from North London, one of the first customers at The House of Lady Muck
Presentational white space

“I’ve been really self-conscious about my nails the whole of lockdown,” continues Luce. “This pop of colour has made all the difference and I feel like me again.”

The salon was founded by Laura Southern two years ago and is based at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus store.

Laura said the whole space had been rearranged to allow for social distancing, with technicians wearing visors and protective partitions in place.

“I’ve been so excited to reopen,” she said. “I missed seeing all the girls – it’s a real family vibe.”

Nail technician Babs works on Luce's nails.

Nail technician Babs said she was excited to get back to work and into a routine, adding it felt like “the first day back at school”.

“I’ve really missed the people,” she said. “We have such a close-knit team here – it’s nice to be back again.”

Gizem Singirli has her nails done

“As you might have seen, my nails were a wreck!” says Gizem Singirli. “I was looking forward to having my nails done, it’s important to make you look good and feel good.

“I’ve been doing my best during lock down filing and doing what I can but it’s different to come in and get treated properly.

Gizem Singirli shows off her finished nails

“I haven’t found the new measures uncomfortable, it feels safe and very hygienic as well.”

Prav Menon-Johansson has a pedicure

“I’m desperate to get my nails done and I wanted to do something a little bit different,” says Prav Menon-Johansson, who works in the theatre business.

Prav Menon-Johansson has a pedicure

“I really just wanted to support the nail bars reopening because they have had a hard time. I wanted to support someone I haven’t supported before. And of course it’s a bit of pampering after a lockdown!”

All photos subject to copyright.