When a shoot is setup, we make sure we contact hair, makeup, and wardrobe. However, we always forget that the hands are also an important factor too. The nail artist is a vital meme of any successful team. Recently we had a chance to sit and talk with CharliesNailVault about her journey in the nail art game.

What made you get into nail art? 

When I was a bit younger, I always loved doing my friends nails. One of my friends and I used to do each other’s toes and try designs by hand. As I grew older, it became just a hobby. Every two weeks as a teenager, this particular friend and I would get our nails done but what I noticed is that I would pay more attention to the technique than anything. I would ask my nail technician so many questions. I told her, one day I will learn to do nails the right way. My famous saying was ” I WILL COME FOR YOU.” 

My grandmother used to try and get me to go to cosmetology school, but I wasn’t interested in doing hair, even though that is a secret skill set of mines. I just wanted to do nails. I wanted to express my inner desire to be creative and show my personality. The area that I live in which is considered the (DMV) District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, did not offer a nail technician program. I quickly became discouraged and got into finance because I knew the money was good and there would always be a need for this field.

What I started to notice over the years was not only that there was a lack of African American nail techs, but that there was nobody that wanted to give us young Black females the opportunity to learn and grow. Well, years later as an adult, I got to the peak of my career as a Director of Finance and decided to look for nail programs again. I don’t quite know but it wouldn’t leave the back of my brain. The pandemic hit and my company started laying people off and it felt like a never-ending cycle of being disappointed. I prayed one day and woke up in the middle of the night and got on social media and to my surprise, what did I see…. a nail technician program that was 20 minutes away from my house.

I went to the website and BOOM, they were offering part-time evening classes for moms like myself who had a full-time career and not enough time in the day to dedicate to a full-time class. I called as soon as knew the phone lines were open and talked to the Director. Her name is Shanay Dudley. The first question was ‘Okay, how much is this class?’ When she told me, I said to myself how will I pay for this class? The answer was JUST PAY with whatever funds you have in your possession. I am a firm believer that scared money doesn’t make money, so I paid.

I finally made the decision to INVEST IN MYSELF. I knew that I was investing in a dream I had for so long. But I was scared. WHY? Well, I am a bit older and head deep in a career, but it still felt as if I was missing something in life. All the younger females were in the game and doing well but I could not let that stop me. FEAR sat in until I was told that it is considered as False Evidence Appearing Real. I signed up, paid, and finally started class. There was a HUGE downside to this, and it was the pandemic and virtual learning. I thought I was going to be hands on and I wasn’t for the first two months. Shanay finally got the word from the state that she could open up her school to us. Finally, I would be meeting all my virtual classmates and getting the experience I always longed for. Class was not only great, but I met some of the best women. We prayed, laughed, cried, and at the end graduated. My next goal was to pass my state board exams and walk into 2021 as a licensed nail technician. There were some bumps along the way due to the pandemic, but it all panned out thanks to my support system. Well guess what, I passed both my practical and theory with a 94% and 91% in December and I am a licensed nail technician in the state of Maryland. What a way to end 2020! If it wasn’t for my support system none of this would be possible!

What made you name your business Charlie’s Nail Vault?

My real name is Channelle. Charlie is a nickname (alter ego) that developed over the years. My friends and family started noticing that there were two sides to this Gemini. As a result, an old friend of mine started calling me Chuck because I wore red hair and used to hang outside with only two females and the rest fellas. Remember Charlie Baltimore? That was me in a younger version. I hated being around other females because they were too catty, but the guys were overprotective and treated me like little sis.

Plus, I acted like a little boy at times, so he figured he would name me like one, (laughs). Channelle was the soft spoken, shy, scared to speak up, good girl, honor roll student while Chuck was the playful, fun, going out chick who loved go-go music. 

When I graduated from nail school, I knew I needed to brand myself but couldn’t think of a name that would best suit my personality. I tried so many names and none of them stood out. I finally figured it out!  My dad who is deceased, name was Charles. Chuck is short for Charles or Charlie. I then realized what I had to offer this world was buried so deep within. It was sort of like a secret society in my brain. When you think of a vault, you think of your most prized possessions being held in it. So, there I had it…… Charlie’s Nail Vault. It represents the loss of my dad, the little girl who had big dreams but scared to fulfill them due to lack of belief in herself, and a burning desire to show the world who I really was inside and out.

We don’t talk much about nail art enough when it comes to beauty why is that? 

In my personal opinion, I think it’s because it is something that is not often seen from a far like clothes, hair, and make-up. You really have to be up close and personal to see the intricate details of the nail. I actually think that it’s one of the more important roles in the industry because you are very intimate with your nail tech. You share life hacks and personal stories with this individual. If you really think about it, we as nail techs are in your face and touching you and a lot of people prefer not to be touched. It is also an area that if your health is not the best, we have to be really careful not to place you in harm’s way. Underlying conditions can change the outcome of services provided. There are areas that are specifically medically related and because there is lack of knowledge, people prefer not to really dig deep with the unknown.
Nail art is a way of expressing oneself. I was always told by my grandmother that red is for jezebels. (Laughs). But as I got older and realized what that actually was, I no longer felt the need to stay away from it. Yeah, she was bad, but she also had her good side. Nail art not only allows us nail techs to show our creativity, but it also allows for one to express themselves in a way that is unspoken. You can live out your wildest fantasy with just a little color and jewels. 

If you weren’t doing nails what other industry would you be in?

I would have to say media. I would love to be a talk show host. It’s weird due to the fact I consider myself to be the most extroverted of the introverts. I would rather stand in a corner alone and observe but I force interaction because I know it’s needed. I can’t just ball up in a corner and watch the world pass me by because I don’t want to talk. So, I often find myself talking to strangers because it helps me with the fear of being rejected. I figure if I can talk to someone I don’t know, I can talk to just about anyone. Plus, I love a good laugh.
Being in media would allow me to not only encourage others to keep pushing toward their dreams, but also help other with achieving the goals they thought could never be conquered. Besides, I would only have to interact with persons on my team because the rest of the world is behind the screen. 

Featured Image provided by CharliesNailVault