Latinx nail artists showcase Latinidad

When nail shops were closed at the start of the pandemic, Kristan Coronado turned her hobby of doing her own nails into a business. When the Los Angeles native started doing nails for some of her close family and friends, she didn’t have plans to start a business, but after posting some of her work on social media it was evident that there was a demand for creative nail artists.

“One client turned into two, then turned into three, then turned into me being booked for a month out,” Coronado said. “I know it’s kind of something that seems so unimportant in the grand scheme of the world, but it really brings me so much joy to hold hands with someone.”

A woman holds her hands in front of her face, showing her fingernails

Nail artist Kristan Coronado shows off her own designs.

(Nalani Hernandez-Melo/For De Los)

Although Black and Asian cultures have led the nail art industry for decades, Latinx nail artists have had an increase in influence within recent years.

The new wave of Latinx artists is into detailed yet bold designs that continue to evolve. Nail art has become a vital accessory in the fashion world. Even though the art is done on a small canvas the impact can be big.

Coronado said she has always loved art and design, so using polish to express herself was easy. In 2020, she started her business PLAnty of Nails by turning part of her South L.A. home into a studio where she welcomes clients.

Coronado specializes in intricate and detailed designs — some of which can take hours to complete. The longest nail set she has worked on took five hours to complete. She said many of her clients come to her with a specific design in mind, but she’s always on the hunt for inspiration.

Nail art by Kristan Coronado.

Nail art by Kristan Coronado.

(Kristan Coronado)

“I love getting inspiration from actual artists,” Coronado said. “When I see an artist that I really like in the tattoo world, in the graffiti world or at art museums and local art pop-ups or galleries, I love to look at their art and I instantly think of how can I interpret that and put it on someone’s nails.”

Coronado said that one of the biggest influences in her designs is her culture.

“Anytime anyone tells me or wants me to do anything Latinx-inspired, I’m all for it. It’s probably my favorite thing to do,” she said.

She’s done designs inspired by Frida Khalo, Selena, Spanto, La Virgen de Guadalupe and Día de Los Muertos.

Nail artist designs custom press on nails

Nail artist Kristan Coronado designs custom press-on nails for clients.

(Nalani Hernandez-Melo/For De Los)

“I did a Christmas Mexican-inspired set [of nails] and I did the San Marcos blanket, the abuelita de chocolate, the poinsettias that our mom and grandma love to get every year, and some of the classic tin ornaments that you find in lots of Mexican households,” Coronado said.

Xochil Cobos also turned her hobby of doing nails at home in Covina during the pandemic into a business. She started by doing nails in her family living room, to outside in the garage, to finally setting up a small nail studio in her backyard.

Cobos had entrepreneur role models at home that supported her as she started her business. Her parents run their own plumbing company and have always supported her entrepreneurial journey. They have also given her advice based on their own experiences about the difficulties that come with running a business.

Xochil Cobos goes through her drawers of gels, powders, charms, polish and nail glitter

Nail artist Xochil Cobos goes through her drawers of gels, powders, charms, nail polish and nail glitter for her home business, Stunna Nails, in Covina.

(Jill Connelly/De Los)

“I was working at [a fast-food restaurant], and with one of my paychecks I got some acrylic and a brush and I started doing nails,” Cobos said. “I decided that I wanted to go to school for nails because I was very young, so I felt like I wanted people to take me seriously.”

She got her certification and license and started Stunna Nails Inc. With the help of her uncle, Cobos moved her nail business into a private studio in her backyard. Her uncle helped her build the studio and set up all the lighting and furniture. Cobos said her uncle helped her with the studio for all of the hard work she has put into building her business.

Similarly to Coronado, Cobos said she finds inspiration for her nail designs everywhere — even in clothing patterns. She said that being able to combine her love of doing nails with her culture is important to her.

Nail art by Xochil Cobos.

Nail art by Xochil Cobos.

(Xochil Cobos)

Cobos has designed nail sets inspired by Hispanic Heritage Month, Cinco de Mayo and serapes. But one of her most favorite sets to design was one inspired by San Judas.

Cobos manages her nail business while earning her bachelor’s degree in business. She takes clients before, after and between classes.

Cobos and Coronado said they’ve encountered difficulties running their own businesses.

“I feel like time management was something that I needed to learn because I felt like I was just draining myself,” Cobos said.

Coronado said she’s faced different obstacles since starting her business, including setting boundaries with customers and figuring out a work-life balance as a mother. Despite all of this, Coronado said that designing and doing nails has become a true passion.

“I really love doing nails,” Coronado said. “I thank this craft for allowing me to dig deeper into myself and start building community.”

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