Chloe Randall

UK Black History Month: Honour nail styles & pros

By Chloe Randall | 30 October 2021 | Feature

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Scratch recognises and honours the UK’s Black History Month by celebrating the work & styles of black nail professionals across the UK and learning more about how black culture has helped shape nail trends today…

L&P acrylic nails

Although L&P acrylic nails isn’t an invention born exclusively from the black community, the community’s contribution to the cultural emergence of long acrylic nails and elaborately styled nail art, dates as far back as the 60s.

Olympic track and field star Florence Griffith-Joyner’s (AKA Flo-Jo), long, brightly coloured acrylic nails clashed with the white beauty standards of her time. This led to media coverage focusing more on her nails than the fact she made world records in 100m and 200m. Flo-Jo possessed a deep love for flamboyant nail design and was known for the styles she sported.

Olympic track and field star Florence Griffith-Joyner’s (AKA Flo-Jo)

Professional tennis player, Serena Williams, has made headlines across the world receiving praise for her nail art worn on the tennis court. At the Australian Open, Williams made a statement through her nail art paying tribute to the koalas affected by the Australian wildfires. Moreover, Williams partnered with OPI to create her ‘Grand Slam’ Nail Lacquer duo.

The cultural emergence of L&P acrylic nails and nail art is largely thanks to women of colour. This is due to the emergence and rise of the hip-hop and R&B scene which became a platform for new fashion and style ideas, with black artists such as Missy Elliot and Lil Kim popularising long L&P acrylic nails.

Meet Elisa Tladi of EMT Nails… 

Elisa Tladi – Coventry @EMTnails

“I’ve been getting my nails done since I was 15 years old and loved my pamper time and a catch up with my nail tech. As a student at university, I realised I could no longer get my nails done frequently, as it’s just too expensive, and thought to myself that I couldn’t be the only one going through this. Some of my friends managed to get their nails done when going back to south London to visit family every other week, but I’m from Coventry, so there was no way that was possible. Then I thought…why not start doing it myself?”

“At the time, I had no idea how wide the nail industry was and how many inspiring people there are working in nails.

“As challenging as it was for me to paint and decorate my home salon during a time when money was tight, due to my mum being made redundant and having to pay bills at home, I’m proud to say I didn’t quit. I had a target, to be open in time for when it was safe for nail techs to work again, and I met it.”

“I change my nails often to completely different styles, although I do love wearing stiletto nails. I make them so sharp that I now have a permanent mark from scratching myself,” she chuckles.

“My vision for the future is for EMT nails to expand. When I’m in more suburban areas, I see less black or diverse employees in the salons. I want my salon to be in every neighbourhood reflecting how diverse the world is. I want to walk past outer suburban nail salons and see people of all ethnicities. I think representation on all levels matters, especially in beauty. I want to make and create amazing products that are affordable and cater to all customers, so everyone can have the chance to get their nails done safely!”