Lilly Delmage

NAIL TECH TALK: Emma Kilani, Scratch Stars finalist 20/21

By Lilly Delmage | 14 May 2021 | Feature, Tech Talk

Ssas21 Emma Kilani Lead

Scratch chats to Emma Kilani, finalist in the 20/21 Scratch Stars L&P Tech of the Year category (sponsored by INK London) about her 25 years in the industry and what the Scratch Stars competition means to her…

When and where did you train and how has your career progressed?

I learned in Australia and, bar a couple of very short career breaks, I’ve always been a salon tech. I retired from salon work in August 2020, just after the first lockdown and I’m now concentrating on helping other nail techs advance their skills through my nail academy as well as building my brand, Emoki Nails, to bring amazing nail products to techs and their clients.

What is your signature nail style?

I’m not sure I have a signature style but I do love nails that are extreme, dark and gothic! I definitely lean towards the European nail structure as opposed to American style.

What are your favoured brands and why? What are the essentials in your tool kit?

I love INK London for my core products. It has a great range for differing set speeds and cover colours, but I use a varied range of colour powders when designing and encapsulating. My tool kit essentials are my Katie Barnes cuticle pusher, cuticle scissors, form cutting scissors, my Kim Tu size 14 brush and my Jana Nails Extreme forms.

What did lockdown mean for your job and career? 

I was lucky enough to be in a furlough situation and running three separate businesses takes its toll, so lockdown was a chance for me to reflect on what was important to me and think about what changes I could make within my work life to get a better balance and not feel so pressured.

Tell us about your work set up…

Now that I’ve retired from salon work, I have my home office and my academy. I use the academy for teaching but my home office is seriously multi-functional! I have an office area and a packaging area that doubles as as my ’nail creation station’ and in under five minutes I can turn the room into a photographic & video studio.

Why is it important to keep training, and enter industry competitions?

Nail trends move so fast these days and it’s easy to get stuck in your ‘happy place’. But to improve we need to constantly train and every single course you do will teach you something you didn’t know. And if you can, do a course twice. I’ve done various courses two or three times now and you always pick up on something you missed the first time round.

I prefer to enter competitions that are judging your skills as these have the most value to me as a nail artist. I actually don’t necessarily enter comps to win, but also to get the feedback as it’s so valuable to improving both comp skills and salon skills.

What attracted you to enter the Scratch Stars Awards?

The reputation of the awards, first and foremost, but, again it comes down to pushing myself as a nail artist. I could sit here and just do my thing, but entering the Scratch Stars Awards was always a ’thing’ for me – it’s the best of the best. 

What does this mean to you?

I mean, it’s Scratch Stars, right? One of the biggest comps in the industry and I’ve been selected out of all of those people who applied – that’s huge! Just to be able to say I’m a finalist alongside all these incredibly talented nail artists… I don’t even have the words to describe what that means. Career wise I think it’s right up there! I have say also that I am so buoyed by it that I decided to push it out there a little more and compete in Nailympia Online. Eeek!

What do you love about working with L&P?

I love the flexibility it gives me. I can create all sorts of amazing designs and structures with it. Sounds a bit weird but it’s like an extension of my brain, I guess the way the lead of a pencil is to an artist. I love that I can encapsulate and sculpt literally anything I want.

What has been your career highlight to date?

In 25 years I’ve had a few… 2019is right up there closely followed by watching one of my students win 1st for a nail comp in Scotland. I was honoured to be featured in Scratch (2016), demoing and writing about L&P and how to do a Baby Boomer nail. 

If you could change one thing about the nail industry, what would it be?

Have education regulated. You can have a course accredited by the same company but the content and duration are completely different. There are too many fledgling nail artists out there who don’t have even the basic skills because companies take advantage of their lack of knowledge. Quite frankly it’s dangerous. We absolutely need to have something in place that states how long each unit of learning takes and what is taught as a minimum.

What do you love about working in the nail industry?

The support. There are some truly amazing people in this industry who support and rise each other up without question or motive.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself…

  1. I punched Mohammed Ali in the tummy when I was about 6 or 7! He was a big bear of a man, making me laugh when he did a good job of faking the effects from my puny blow.
  2. I used to be a dental nurse… I actually loved that job so much! It laid a lot of groundwork for me coming into the nail industry in regard to client care and hygiene protocols.
  3. I love sea fishing (in warmer climes of course!). The bigger and more fierce the fish the better!

Follow Emma on Facebook and Instagram and check out her brand, Emoki Nails.