Want to meet the woman behind Lady Gaga's nails for Poker Face, behind Fergie's amazing Minx, and the one responsible for all of Mary J. Blige's amazing nail looks? Well, look no further than celebrity manicurist Naja Rickette. As you can see, she's glitzed up the nails of some of the biggest names in the business! Read on to discover how she got her start in the manicure industry, her favorite top coat and so much more.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am born and raised in New Jersey. In the past most people would make fun of that but now everyone is all over NJ due to the reality shows. I would have to say Jersey Shore was pretty much my high school life. Thank God I moved to LA for my twenties. i actually went to culinary school right after high school and worked in restaurant at the Jersey Shore.
How did you first become interested in nails, and what led you to become a manicurist?
I was fed up with being in a uniform. I went to catholic school my whole life, then culinary school, then wore the chef uniform to work. I decided I was going to move to California and wasn't sure what would be my next career, but I knew the criteria would be a job where I could wear whatever I wanted.
One of the first jobs I got once I moved to LA was a receptionist at a day spa. I had never been to a spa before. I fell in love with the whole spa industry. I viewed it as the modern day hospital. For instance, if one really put spa practices into practice in their daily life it could ward off later trip to the hospital. Truly preventative medicine.
The manicurist at that spa had off on Sundays and Mondays. Clients constantly wanted manis on those two days. After about the 20th person said, "Well, do you know ANYWHERE I can get a mnai/pedi in Marina Del Rey on Sunday or Monday?" I said, "Yes, in a few months we will be offering nails services on those days." I had never had a mani before myself or been to a nail salon. I went to school as a business move to capitalize on an area that had a need that wasn't being fulfilled. Now, I do some of the greatest pop stars and my childhood music idol, Mary J. Blige. Just proves my motto: "Jump and grow your wings on the way down." I had no clue about nails, nail polish, pedicures or anything -- I realized an opportunity and I JUMPED!!
You have a very impressive celebrity clientele! What are some of the favorite looks you've created?
I have been doing gold and silver Minx for 3 years now, but I still love the cover of Lady Gaga's Poker Face with her clean makeup and gold nails. It's classic!
I used Minx black and chrome metallic stripes on Fergie, which became her signature look for a few months. There is a distribution company in the UK that actually calls that pattern Fergie Stripes now which I think is so cool!
My all time favorite look is a set of nails I did for a nail trade magazine called Nail Pro. I used a matte dark deep blue with a beautiful almond shape nail (my fave!!) and then piled staples on ends of the nail. I like very couture, avante-guard nails. Purely for fashion not function.
You introduced Lady Gaga to the fabulousness of Minx. What was it like working with her and creating such flashy manicures for her albums and videos?
It was super fantastic. I knew the very first time I met her that she was going to be the next big thing. She came to my salon because she was shooting her first video "Just Dance" the following day. She loved all the Minx and we had a fun time picking through them. She was nervous and excited for her very first video. She asked me about reflexology and asked if I knew about energy. She said, "How is my energy?" I told her, "You are ready. You are going to be the next Madonna." She is really a creative creature. Always has been, always will be.
What are your favorite nail polishes and why?
That is a very hard question. I am a color addict. For French and natural shades I like to use Essie.
OPI's brush design is genius.
My fave I would have to say is Deborah Lippmann. She is a celeb manicurist and her polish is the most amazing thing ever!! You can definitely tell that a manicurist created it. The bottle, the brush, the consistency of the polish, the colors. They are truly amazing. She collaborates with her clients and creates colors with them. She has MJB, Cher and Sarah Jessica Parker and recently did one with Gaga.
What are your top 5 nail-specific product essentials?
1) Orly Bonder base coat
2) Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
3) Blue Cross Cuticle Remover
4) Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme
5) CND Solar Speed Spray (quick dry but smells like almond oil)
Do you have any product favorites outside the nail realm? What are they?
Adidas sneakers, Maybelline mascara, Chanel lipgloss and probiotics.
What are your top nail tips?
Don't pick. Don't pick. Don't pick.
Being a manicurist must be fun -- but what do you do in your spare time?
Love going anywhere with my dog, CC. Read all things business and apply all things spiritually. Dancing, painting and just walking around taking photos.