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The celebrity manicurist has worked with stars like Anya Taylor-Joy, Camila Cabello, Mariah Carey, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain.

Por Alma Sacasa
Abril 06, 2021
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Julie Kandalec
Credit: Nick Parisse

Last month, celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec opened up her first nail art studio, Julie K Nail Artelier, in New York City, something she never imagined doing just two short years ago. "If you would have asked me, I would never have believed it, wanted it, or thought I could do it," she tells People CHICA. "But, like most people, I think it depends on what really is needed and I'm a problem solver."

Without a doubt, the pandemic has kept many from doing things they used to take for granted like getting their nails done as part of their beauty routine. Kandalec, who has done nail art for celebrities like Anya Taylor-Joy, Camila Cabello, Mariah Carey, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Jessica Chastain, opened up her studio to address issues in the nail industry —and set up a place where clients could feel like they were in the comfort of their living rooms yet far enough from other clients in a disinfected environment. "During the pandemic there were a lot of things about the nail industry that I always knew but were really heightened in my mind while we were off of work," she shares. "Fast forward a few weeks and there was an article that came out in the New York Times and I think it was titled like The Death of the Manicure or something like that. My take away from it was that people are not educated about what a proper salon experience should be like, and I learned that reading the comments. I can open a place and it would solve so many issues and that's basically how the idea got started."

Opening her studio took about four months once she decided on the name, and Kandalec hopes to also have a second location someday. "I love the thought of growth — maybe just a second location somewhere, but I like being very private and I like this one-on-one [way of working]," she expressed. "I think that this is a pretty good step. Aside from the studio, a product line of some sort is probably the only thing that's in my mind. So we'll see how that goes."

Kandalec is also the founder of the global education program Masterclass Nail Academy and author of Nail Art Design Book who tries to stand out in her industry by cultivating great relationships with celebrities. "The feedback that I've gotten is that I'm very quiet; especially on set working with a celebrity there's a lot of people working on them at the same time," she says. "There's a lot going on, so to be able to pick up cues about when it's a good time to talk or not [is] really important. And the fact that I'm on the quiet side has really worked well for me. Also, just being more gentle; a lot of people have said I don't hurt them, which is always great to hear. And also keeping celebrities' secrets!"

According to her, some of the trends we will see this summer are jelly nail polishes with deeper colors. "Not everyone wants to wear a sheer lilac or sheer whatever, but they want to be on-trend," shares Kandalec, who books private appointments at julieknailartelier.com. "Because everyone has had like a year off from the salon, we're going to go full crazy with designs and studs. We're just going to go really crazy this summer, just go all out with nail art in general; it's going to be a bit more maximalist."