We’ve been talking to Nathan who opened his first business just one year ago to now find himself facing the challenge of a lockdown. We spoke to him about how he’s coping.
How have you been spending your time during the lockdown?
During the lockdown I have been expanding my business. Buff Bar Bristol now has an online shop selling press on nails and merch. The shop also includes Buff Bar X Mimo Cha products like cuticle oils and foot scrubs.
This has taken up a huge chunk of my time during the lockdown. Luckily I’ve had help from friends and supporters. Some of these friends (and even some of my clients) have collaborated with me to take part in designing postcards that will be sold on the Buff Bar Bristol website. The profits from the postcard sets will be donated to a charity chosen by my followers.
I’ve also been working on a really exciting, new project called The Nail Scouts! The Nail Scout is going to be a platform and information point for nail technicians to use, as well as an online shop. Keep your eyes peeled for more by clicking the link below. I’m hoping to develop this project into a social enterprise that will be supporting nail techs who are from marginalised communities. On top of all of that, I’m celebrating Buff Bar’s first birthday! I am sending 70+ goodie bags to the people and businesses that have supported me over the last year.
How have you been keeping your creative flow going?
I have been designing and creating press on nails to keep myself in the creative flow. This time really seems like a good opportunity for me to learn and grow as much as possible. So with some of the spare time I have left, I’ve been experimenting, playing and learning more nail art techniques and designs. This really keeps things fresh and exciting.
Thanks to people like @beautyworksbyamy and @dream_nails_ewa, I’ve learnt so much recently and not just about nail art. The Incredible @nancylovesnails and @nails.by.liv did a business and social media workshop on insta which was amazing! I have also been learning more about inclusion over the last few months. Inclusion, diversity and equality is really important to me and my business. I’ve been sharing information by creating videos that feature salon top tips and the first one is all about LGBTQ+ inclusion!
How have you been managing to keep yourself in good shape – physically and mentally?
I am on the struggle bus with keeping myself physically fit, I’ve never liked exercise! But recently I’ve taken the time to exercise from home a few days a week. This has been a pretty difficult barrier to cross for me so I hope I can keep it up after lockdown. It’s also been difficult to keep my mental health as balanced as possible. Dealing with mental health issues from a very young age means that I’m very passionate when it comes to talking about this stuff. I’m very open about my own mental health and often share info and resources via social media which can spark conversations with clients, followers and friends. Recently I’ve been reaching out to other nail techs, which has been super helpful for me and hopefully also for them! I chat with my nail pal @biteme.nails every few days; she has been super supportive and understanding! When I feel like I’m really struggling with self-esteem and my ability as a nail tech @nancylovesnails always has something uplifting to say! Just a few weeks ago Jess Young from @boysinpolish and myself went live on insta to talk about some of these things. I found it really useful to hear her opinions! I think the most important thing is to stay connected (without socially exhausting yourself) as much as possible. It’s great to reach out to other nail techs as they often know what I’m going through!
The lockdown really seems to have brought out the best in some people. Have you met or heard about anyone who has done something that made your heart smile?
I started this year homeless, heartbroken and in financial trouble and without the support of my clients and friends, I wouldn’t be where I am now and neither would Buff Bar! Being self-employed isn’t always easy and the beginnings of setting up a business certainly burns a hole in your pocket. Lots of my clients and even people I haven’t met before have contacted me during this time and asked how they can help. Some have even supported the growth of Buff Bar financially! Every time someone reaches out, even just to ask how I am and if there is anything they can do to help, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and love! Also my dog Colin keeps me happy 🙂
Have you been able to do anything to keep in touch with your clients or prepare in any way for the time when you can start to work again?
Lots of people say that when you’re in the beauty industry, you end up not only providing a service, you also become a person that your clients can open up to. I think it’s a two way street, we are there for each other! I’ve always engaged with my clients lots , I think it’s so important to build a relationship with them! I’ve been keeping in touch with my clients mostly via social media but some clients, I text every now and again just to check in on them and see how they are. I miss spending time with them and waffling on about silly stuff but also the serious stuff too. I work alongside a collective of creatives (@cloud_9_) and we already understand and agree that wellbeing is super important. We have regular zoom meetings about how we are going to move forwards after lockdown. When the time comes, I’m going to slowly ease myself back into work. I’m a sensitive person so I think the change of dynamic will take me a while to adjust to. Over this period of time during the pandemic, I have remembered what my priorities are, which are mostly that my own wellbeing, as well as others is as balanced as possible.
Have any of your clients asked you for advice on self-care during the lockdown and if so, what advice have you been able to give them?
I’m always nagging my clients about using cuticle oil, not picking their gel polish off etc. Hopefully I’ve filled them with all the info they need to look after their nails till I get back in the chair. Lots of my clients have really loved listening to me ramble on about my goals for this year. I have shared lots about my process of writing “want to do” lists (I prefer calling it this, rather than “to do lists” I think it keeps the pressure off a little).
As much as I love pushing myself and aiming high, I have to remind myself to have down time and to take regular breaks by being in the garden or even just staring into space for a bit. Self-care doesn’t always have to be about being indulgent! Sometimes I find that doing the things I don’t want to do, like my taxes or organising that box of stuff in my room can also work as self-care. In some ways I feel it’s like looking out for yourself in the future! What works for me, isn’t going to work for everyone. I think whatever you’re doing and whatever your goals are, be gentle on yourself, give yourself what you need to grow, learn, relax and breathe a little. You deserve it!
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’ve worked my butt off over the last year, I’ve achieved lots and I’m super proud of what Buff Bar is and has the potential to be.
It’s been a rollercoaster, a whirlwind and I absolutely love it!
Cuticle oils and scrubs made by –
My nail pal –
N.B. Our Salon and Freelance policies don’t provide cover for you to make and sell your own products, although the mixing or blending of oils and creams that you have bought in the UK from a shop or supplier to use as part of your treatments is covered. If you are selling press on nails that you have made, you will need to arrange separate insurance for that aspect of your business.