Alex Crop

Industry flame: talking to Pattie Yankee after 32 years in nails. Brands, peers, nails & the years

By Alex Fox | 07 April 2021 | Brands, Feature

Patti Yankee Session Stylist

Pattie Yankee

AGE: 59 years

Location: New York City

Years in Nails: 32 years – joined in 1988

Trained with: Nail Tek, CND, EzFlow, Dashing Diva

Pattie Yankee backstage


Why did you move into nail grooming?

I had taught dancing for 15 years and in the middle of my dance career, a nail salon opened up next door to the studio where I taught in Florida. On a particular day, one of the nail techs was outside smoking a cigarette. He mentioned needing a hand model for an upcoming nail competition and asked to see my hands. I got really interested in the nail industry from watching him practice on my nails and seeing the designs he created on me. He later encouraged me to pursue nail school.

What is it about nails that interested you?

I love the creative aspect of doing nails as well as the diversity of this profession. Every day brings something different and a new opportunity to create. What really made me get into nails was knowing how getting a pedicure can make someone’s entire being feel amazing. This made me want to be part of making people feel good. Additionally, this career allows you to build connections with people, which I also love.

How did you build your reputation?

I went to nail school in Florida and met my future husband there who brought me to New York. He had a friend who was a hairdresser and told him I had a nail license. One of his nail techs had just quit, so he called me to fill in and clients immediately loved my work. I promoted myself by telling clients if they sent me two new clients, I’d give them a free service. I built by word of mouth, slow and steady offering this deal, which quickly built my business and reputation in the days before social media.

What do you love about the nail industry?

I love that every day and every client is different. Things are always changing, so this allows one to be creative. Plus, there’s different aspects of the nail industry, I’ve been an educator, I’ve travelled, I’ve done events like Fashion Week, I work with celebrities… so there’s versatility in doing nails. Being able to develop personal connections with people and building friendships is also something I love!

Describe an average day in your life…

It depends on what I’m doing…lol! It could go from working in my private home studio doing personal clients that I’ve had for over 30 years, to catching a train to NYC to do a photoshoot, to grooming clients at my NYC location, to servicing my celebrity clients. I’m always running around and usually don’t stop until 1am!

What is your favourite nail look to create?

I love to create neutral, elegant and sophisticated looks.

Your favourite nail colour is…

A nude – Put It In Neutral by OPI for gel polish and for regular nail lacquer, my favourite is Presence from my Pattie Yankee Polish line.

The most essential tools in your kit bag are…

A clean up brush to clean excess polish or gel polish that gets onto the skin, my Pattie Yankee Products tools, (that you can find on my website), and fresh nail files.


Who have you trained with?

I’m old school, so I trained with Tom Holcomb who has since passed, Lysa Comfort, Roxanne Valinoti and Debra Tuggle who also has since passed.


Who do you admire in the nail industry & why?

Debra Tuggle was a big influence for me, she was always there when I needed advice or when I had any technical questions. Since her passing, I consult with Lysa Comfort on any technical or application question that I may need an answer for. Presently, I really admire and value Tom Bachik, Kimmie Kyees and Kim Troung because we have created a relationship and share clients between LA and NY.

Tell me about your nail brand; where can we buy it?

I have created my Pattie Yankee Polish for natural nails. Most of my shades come from creating specific colour matches for designers at NY Fashion Week. My press on Inspire Nails are very popular with professional nail artists and are used during Fashion Weeks across the globe in Milan, Paris and NYC. I’ve also just added implements and tools as well as custom nail sets. You can find these on and my Inspire Press On nails are also now being sold online at in the USA.

What other nail products do you use?

I use products from CND, OPI, Cuccio, Glitz Accessories and Such, and many from one of my favourite companies, Dashing Diva, who I’ve worked with for many years.

Katy Perry nail groomed by Patti Yankee

What are your career highlights?

Working Fashion Week, being on Housewives of NY, a reality TV Show; doing nails for Chrissy Teigen for the Grammys and her shouting me out on her Instagram when I made her nails during the pandemic; going to the Democratic Convention with Katy Perry and meeting Hillary Clinton and Orlando Bloom; working on TV sets such as The Flight Attendant…I have so many highlights and every day is something different and exciting. I’m so humbled and grateful that my career allows me such amazing opportunities and experiences.

What has been key to your success?

Definitely committing to excellence is number 1! I never rush through my work. My father always taught me to give 100% to everything I do, so I believe the fact that I’m a perfectionist is the main reason I’ve been successful. People know once they sit in my chair I’m going to give them 100% of me and do the best job possible; they’re not getting out of my chair until I’m happy!

Where do you find inspiration for your nail art designs?

Usually it comes from social media, through my clients. They often bring inspiration for me from social media posts they’ve seen, but I’ll always put my own touch to the designs so they’re not identical. Other than that, it often comes from the clothing my client is wearing.

How do you keep your own nails?

I always wear my natural nails medium length in almond shape with a gel polish overlay. It’s always Put It In Neutral from OPI. It’s easy for me to fix and maintain, since I do my own nails. Recently I’ve started using Orly’s Builder In A Bottle to give them extra strength.

Which celebrity clients do you groom?

Chrissy Teigen, Rachel Ray, Priyanka Chopra, The Kardashians, Allison Williams, Katy Perry, Rosie Perez, Kaley Cuoco, Selena Gomez, are just some!

What principles do you live by?

Giving 100% and doing the best job possible when I work. I have a strong faith in God that keeps me honest and helps me be someone that can be trusted in the industry.

Do you enter industry competitions?

I haven’t in recent years, but at the beginning of my career I entered them frequently. The first competition I ever entered, I won first place, which was amazing and exciting. I’ve since stopped competing and am a certified competition judge.

Most exciting part of being Patti Yankee?

Being around celebrities and meeting exciting people like my VIP clients. I’ve developed personal relationships with them, so seeing their lives grow and going to their homes is exciting to be part of. Oh and of course…. having my own brand is very exciting too.

What are your future career goals, ideas & aspirations?

My goals are having my brand become more of a household name, expanding globally and inspiring consumers to create nail looks that they see on their favourite celebrities using my products.

Instagram: @pattieyankee & @pattieyankeeproducts

Facebook: Patricia Yankee (Pattie Yankee)