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THE TOP COAT: Catherine of @smile___nails

25th Jan 2021

Catherine is an NYC-based creative, art director, and designer. Her account, @smile___nails, is a huge source of inspiration among our team members. Catherine has been featured on InStyleMagazine and PopSugar.


Hi! My name is Catherine, aka @smile___nails. I’m an NYC based creative and originally from Texas. As my main gig, I work as an art director and designer in the fashion, luxury, and beauty space. My nail account is my latest obsession, but painting my nails has been a big hobby of mine for quite some time now. So I’m excited to be here and talk about nails!


Your nails are always on point! Any tips for painting your nails or doing nail art?

Thank you! Practice is really the key. And making mistakes and starting over is all part of the process. Many of my friends always say “you make it look so easy.” But the reality is, I find myself starting over a lot, especially if I’ve made a mistake or dislike the way a look is going. Getting comfortable and allotting out a chunk of time also helps. Painting my nails is such a therapeutic time for me, so I like to get comfy, turn on a podcast or a fun TV show and give it a go. If you have an idea in mind, it’s helpful to sketch it out on paper or plan out your color combos beforehand. A great clean-up brush is also highly recommended!


Who/what do you take inspiration from?

I love the work of @ladyfancynails, @thisisprima, and @betina_goldstein. They’re so talented! And since I was very little, art has been my #1. I love getting inspired by past, current, and new artists, and looking at different styles of paintings, illustrations, and patterns. 



What is your creative process like?

Each look always starts off differently. One day I might wake up thinking about a fun pattern I want to try and I’ll start by sketching it out on a pad of paper and swatching out compatible colors. Other days, I may stare at some colors that I’m obsessed with but have no idea what I want to do, so I’ll just go for it and try painting random designs and see what happens.





How did you get into blogging?

I used to love painting my nails back in college and when I first moved to New York. But over time, work consumed me and I eventually lost that time for myself to get creative. In Dec 2019, I made a big career move to quit full-time and become a freelance creative and that’s when I knew I wanted to bring back my nail art passion again. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I created @smile___nails to use it as my online diary, paired it with my signature smiley logo, and the rest is history.



What’s one way you treat yourself?

I’m normally an iced coffee kinda gal, but recently I've really been enjoying making my own matcha lattes. The whole process helps me to slow down on stressful and busy days and it’s such a tasty treat that I just can’t get enough of!



What's your most recent obsession?

I’m a new plant mom! I used to be so bad at keeping plants alive, but recently I decided to give it another go and I’m OBSESSED with my new babies. Haven’t named them yet, but I talk to them every day and I love seeing them grow:)



Your top 3 Cirque Colors products:
The Vice Collection (I know...that’s more than 3, but all the colors are too amazing and I just can’t choose). The Belated Birthday Charms, they make me so happy. And Organza, a perfect sheer nude.


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