|Rita working away at Matis by Lucian Matis|
It was a combination of lots of hard work, being passionate about what I do and being happy while I do it. My passion for this industry and art form keeps me driven to work my butt off. After a few years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to gain experience working in salon, on editorial photo shoots and backstage at Fashion Week. At the end of the day, it came down to one great manicure I gave to a client (and now friend) who recommended me to the team at essie. After that it was like any job – I interviewed for it!
|At Miz by Izzy Camillieri|
I’ve had so many incredible experiences in my career so far, but I think a turning point was the opportunity to create a set of nails worn on the cover of FASHION Magazine. It my first credited photo shoot, it was with a publication I revere and a model, Andrej Pejic, whom I love. I remember leaving the set that day with my heart pumping, feeling more motivated and passionate than ever.
|For Pink Tartan|
This past February I had the dream experience working with the essie nail team for New York Fashion Week. Of all of the cool opportunities, this one takes the cake. In two and a half days, I polished hands for six shows including DKNY, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Wes Gordon and The Row. It was exciting, fast-paced and so, so inspiring. I returned home just in time to prepare for my role as essie Canada’s Lead Nail Artist for World MasterCard Fashion Week and I had plenty of ideas to share.
What did you study in school?
I moved to Toronto out of high school and began classes in Ryerson’s Image Art New Media course. Quickly realizing that I was more passionate about beauty than web design, I enrolled in Complections International School of Make-up Artistry and began a short career as a make-up artist. It was when I was in the George Brown Esthetics program that I found my ideal canvas: nails. It’s been love ever since.
What helps you dream up your latest designs?
Honestly, it can be anything! Cartoons, architecture, textiles, wallpaper, fine art; these are all regular sources of inspiration for me, but it can really be as simple as a T-shirt that I want to match.
What’s it like backstage at Fashion Week?
Working backstage as a Lead Nail Artist you feel like a battery being charged by five outlets. The energy level is high, high, high. I love everything about it. It’s all about being on your feet, making quick decisions and having lots of fun. I am so lucky to be surrounded by incredible make-up artists, hairstylists and, of course, the essie nail team. They inspire me and keep me smiling as I run.
Ultimate designer or celebrity you’d like to do nails for?
If we are talking “ultimate,” I’d feel satisfied in my career after polishing hands for a Tom Ford print ad or creating nail looks for an Iris Van Herpen runway show. If I could choose a celebrity, it would be Florence Welch or Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs because I think they’d give me license to do something really wild and creative.
|Nails for Chloe Comme Paris|
Use cuticle oil! Healthy nails are beautiful nails and your polish will only look as good as the hand that wears it. I love essie’s Apricot Cuticle Oil because it’s fast absorbing and smells like a dream.
|For Korhani Home|
I’m a big believer in everything having its place and reason. I would not change a thing about my career path. It’s ok to mourn a setback for a day, but after that use it as fuel to push you forward. In the end it all adds up as experience, which is invaluable.
Where could we find you hanging out in Toronto?
I am so passionate about my love for Toronto and I am currently smitten with my neighbourhood in Bloorcourt. A few of my go-tos in the city are: The Common for a perfect Americano, Trinity Bellwoods Park for weekly summer picnics, Ossington St. for vintage shopping, Mazz for cheap and yummy sushi and Whippoorwill for apple pancakes that will ruin every other pancake you’ve ever tried.
What would you tell your 20 year-old self?
20 year-old Rita, keep doing what your doing, follow your gut, but please, please stop worrying about every little thing and enjoy and celebrate each small success as it comes.
What advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure it out?
I’ll give you the advice my inspiring nail instructor, Jessica Ellison, told me: “do what you love and the money will come.” I never fully appreciated that until recently. Five years ago, when I was in school, my current job position didn’t even exist. I could not have dreamed I’d be in the position that I am in today. Do what you’re passionate about and be willing to work hard at it. Also, just be kind to everyone. You never know who will be working with you or recommending you in the future.
Daniela DiStefano is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @ddeestefano or check out her blog, Making it to the Masthead