5 Black Denver Nail Artists You Should Have on Your Radar

Nail artistry is on the rise and so many are looking towards social media for daily nail inspiration. Luckily, Denverites have a plethora of artistically-talented creatives who make a living doing what they love and do best.

Thanks to Ashleigh Owens — one of Denver’s innovative Black nail artists — we’ve learned just how important it is to collectively support and celebrate Black nail artists. So, we spoke with five notable artists who are making moves within Colorado’s nail scene to learn more about the genius behind their extravagant designs.

Timia Knox

@nailsbytimia

Photo Courtesy of Timia Knox

303 Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your journey about how you became a nail artist.

Timia Knox: My name is Timia Knox and I’m 27 years old. I’m a self-taught nail artist and have been doing nails for 12 years — licensed for nine. I own Prissy Bee Nails and Esthetics in Colorado Springs, as well as an online nail supply store that caters to beginner nail artists. I became passionate about nails after countless visits to the nail salon with my mom. I also have a visual art background, so nail art became a great way for me to combine my love of nails and art together.

303: Why is it important to celebrate local Black nail artists?

TK: It’s important to me to celebrate local black artists to showcase just how passionate we are about our craft — that each set of nails is a masterpiece completely unique to each client. For so long people have been used to going to nail salons, getting in and out and leaving with mediocre, lackluster nails. Black artists have completely flipped the nail industry on its head and proved that nails are art and should be valued as such.

303: What are some of your favorite nail trends at the moment?

TK: At the moment, I am really enjoying seeing artists remix iconic styles from the ’90s, like classic French tips and recreating them with a modern and up-to-date feel.

Book with Knox by texting (330) 631-4423 to be added to her waitlist. Learn more about nail artistry on her YouTube channel.

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Indigo Johnson

@fingerspice666

Photo by Tabor Aragon

303 Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your journey about how you became a nail artist.

Indigo Johnson: Nothing too crazy. I can honestly chalk it up to just being in the right place, with the right people and at the right time. On Valentine’s Day, in 2018, I was gifted an appointment to get my nails done by my now mentor Rachael Bowen — the owner and all-around badass nail mamì of Acronychous, [a custom nail art shop] located in Five Points. Both of us being spicy Gemini women, we hit it off immediately and she convinced me to go to nail school and come work in her shop with her. She’s taught me literally all that she knows and then some. Now, a year and some later I’m still loving life at Acronychous, but now as an independent booth-renting “nail mamì” myself. Just painting lil’ teeny-tiny designs trying to make them look as bold as possible while helping make all babes’ nail dreams come true.

303: Why is it important to celebrate local Black nail artists?

IJ: I think it is so important to celebrate Black nail techs, creators, trendsetters and artists in general because for so long Black folks haven’t been celebrated. Our voices get muted, ideas stolen and overlooked just because of the color of our skin. That honestly isn’t cute and can’t fly anymore. Black nail techs need to be recognized, celebrated and compensated for all of the cool things they’ve done and do for our industry. [It’s important to] credit where it’s due and recognize that these dope ass trends being used every day originated from Black techs, such as airbrushing, nail-piercings and long, sculpted nails. It’s pretty great that I’ve felt nothing but love and support in my community when it comes to this subject.

303: What are some of your favorite nail trends at the moment?

IJ: I’ve joked with a lot of my clients and friends about my “aesthetic” or “vibe” and have narrowed it down to “Teenage Boy from the ’90s” tie-dye, checkerboard, bright neons. But, my all-time favorite design that I’ll never tire of doing are flames — black, metallic, glitter, neon ombré flames. There are no wrong answers and I love them all. Low key, if I did them every day on every client, I wouldn’t be slightly upset. Also GOLD. All gold everything.

Book with Johnson at Acronychous for hard gel, natural nails and Gel X extensions appointments.

 

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Cora Sokoloski

@cocolee747

Photo Courtesy of Cora Sokoloski

303 Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your journey about how you became a nail artist.

Cora Sokoloski: I moved to Colorado by myself when I was 18. I became and stayed homeless until about 2013, and then graduated from cosmetology [school] in 2014. I started working in nail salons in 2015, but before that salon hired me, I was turned away a few times before census reports forced businesses to be more diverse.

303: Why is it important to celebrate local Black nail artists?

CS: I think it should be normal to see Black people uplifting each other and their own goals and accomplishments.

303: What are some of your favorite nail trends at the moment?

CS: I’ve always worn dangles and piercings on my nails, but I really like the granite marble [trend] preferably done with powder.

Book with Sokoloski by calling (970) 224-2910 for availabilities and appointments.

 

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AlisaMarie

@nailsbyalisamarie

Photo by Kylie Fitts

303 Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your journey about how you became a nail artist.

AlisaMarie: I had my dreams and goals set on going to the police academy and then move onto homicide. I applied three years in a row and didn’t get accepted. One day, I looked up and was like, “I’m about to be 30 and haven’t accomplished anything. How can my babies be proud of me?”

[I then] got into one of the biggest arguments with my fiancé. After things were said, my love came to me and asked, “What’s really going on? What’s bothering you?” I told [him] how I felt and he replied, “Well, have you ever thought about doing nails because I see you doing your own and I think you’re really good at it.” [I then] registered for school and started a week or two after that and the rest is history. I never looked back!
303: Why is it important to celebrate local Black nail artists?
AM: I feel it’s important to celebrate Black nail artists because Black women should be celebrated in general. Black nail artists should be celebrated because I feel like we have pushed our way through and made a way in an industry that some may feel we don’t belong. But, hey, we are here to stay! I’m trying to show my little princesses that there is a place for us in any industry you want to be in and shine bright while doing it!
303: What are some of your favorite nail trends at the moment?

AM: As a nail artist, I’ve always done over the top nail art — bright colors, bling, etc. But, for the first time, I did French tips and fell in love! It is and always will be a classic! I also love the two differently [styled] hands.

Book online or call (303) 386-3037 to schedule an appointment with AlisaMarie at Mainstream Nails.

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Breonda Johnson

@_bnc19

Photo Courtesy of Breonda Johnson

303 Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your journey about how you became a nail artist.

Breonda Johnson: I became a nail artist professionally in 2018. I started out at the age of 14 — in the beauty industry — through my mother’s hair salons.

I always struggled as a client going to my nail appointments. It almost gave me anxiety to sit down across from a new nail technician and try to explain what I wanted after being put out of several salons, asked not to come back, slapped on the hand, told that I was being too picky and ultimately being disappointed with the service. I [decided] to go to school and give the nail business a full shot. My very first day of class something in me awakened and I’ve been on a nail high ever since. Not only do I have a severe passion for nails, but want every person whose nails that I do to feel like they met the right nail technician for them. I want to make their dreams come true through their fingertips.

303: Why is it important to celebrate local Black nail artists?

BJ: I find it extremely important to recognize and appreciate all of our local African-American nail technicians because this industry, for so many years, has been lead by others. A lot of people don’t realize that the creativity and artistic approach of the nail industry has always been influenced by African Americans. It’s time for that to be acknowledged.

303: What are some of your favorite nail trends at the moment?

BJ: I personally love to customize all of my sets for my clients. I find that having a short conversation and really getting to the heart of what my client wants to achieve allows me to be the absolute most creative within the space they give me. Pigmented acrylic, glow in the dark, glitter blends with chrome crazy rhinestones and foil designs are always a plus. I like to push the limit if I can.

Book with Johnson by texting (702) 888-4393 for current Denver dates. 

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