What’s it like to paint masterpieces on fingernails? Meet Andrea Storlie, a nail tech who has been serving up major nail inspiration for over 15 years.
Last August, she opened her own shop, Nail Ninja, in St. Louis Park, where she and fellow rad artists are creating tiny works of art on the fingernails of cool people all over the metro. Chances are you’ve seen some of their stuff on the hands of local artsy folks on Instagram.
The shop is also doing good work through its “pay it forward” program, where the crew encourages people to nominate anyone who might be in need of a pick-me-up, whether they’re experiencing financial hardship, a health issue, or anything else.
City Pages chatted with Storlie about her art, the runaway success of the shop, and which nail trends she’d like to see go away forever.
City Pages: What's the coolest thing, to you, about owning a business and doing nails?
Andrea Storlie: It’s such a personal service. One of the things I like the most about doing my job—and what has kept me doing it this long—is that it’s really cool to bear witness to your clients’ lives, their good times and bad times. It’s such a cool position to be in; people consistently choose to come see you.
CP: Why nail art? And why do you think the shop is such a success?
Storlie: I never thought of myself as artistic; I can’t draw a straight line on a piece of paper. But I had been doing nails long enough to be able to figure things out. So I started practicing, and built from there.
Obviously, it was a hit... my 2020 schedule was booked out for the year in a couple hours. We don’t really have any specialty [nail] shops here. We have a handful of people doing cool stuff, but [clients] like that we have so many cool people in one spot.
CP: How did you teach yourself to do nail art?
Storlie: It was really trial and error. The thing I started doing the most right off the bat was just lines, geometric stuff, and dots.
CP: What’s your favorite thing to do now?
Storlie: I love doing letters. Any kind of lettering or handwriting is cool for me; I like figuring out what kind of writing is going to look best.
CP: Your team includes your husband, Zack Vandekrol, as well.
Storlie: My husband just started doing nails. That came about because he was doing a tattoo apprenticeship that fell through. I said, “Hey, you should go to nail school. Hear me out, because I know that’s not something every boy dreams of, but it’s art.”
I’ve watched him do a commissioned art piece that takes 20 hours, and barely pays minimum wage.... He’s an artist by nature and is having a good time doing it. That’s something cool you don’t see every day.
CP: What kind of trends are you seeing right now, and what do you think will be trendy in the future?
Storlie: It’s Christmas, so I’m seeing a lot of sweater nails, plaid, and a lot of glitter. People are starting to ask for more complicated things. Plaids and plums are trending right now. Neon is really popular still, even though it’s wintertime.
CP: Are there any nail trends you’d like to see go away forever, and any you’d like to see make a comeback?
Storlie: The thing I hate the most and have always hated the most is the French manicure. Why do you want me to paint your nails to look like nails?
I don’t know that anything has gone away that I would want to see come back. Everything trickles along... I would like to see all of us put our energy towards doing more artistic things.