Celebrity Stylist Lulu Cooper

Celebrity Stylist Lulu Cooper does a shoot for Marie Claire Nov-2011-page-1

Education and practice create wedded bliss when it comes to mastering the art of being a successful nail stylist.  Enjoy our interview with Celebrity Stylist Lulu Cooper.

Beauty Creatives.com: Lulu, tell our readers a little about yourself?

I was born May 24th 1970 in Jersey City NJ, but I'm a southern gal at heart.  My parents was born in Oriental NC, where I lived when I was young.  I’m a PK (preachers kid) and single mom of a 21-year-old son.  I love to bake.  And I think I can sing!

Beauty Creatives: How long have you been doing nails?

I’ve been doing nails for 22 years professionally. Not counting my parents basement as my beauty parlor.

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Beauty Creatives.com: What made you decide to become a Nail Technician?

When I graduated from beauty school I felt as though I didn’t have "enough" in me to do hair.  I let fear hold me back. I thought nails would be easier….not true at all.  In the beginning, I made tons of mistakes.

Beauty Creatives.com: How hard is it to get signed to an agent?  What steps would you recommend to someone who wants to get signed to an agent?

It depends on the agency you want to represent you. Some are welcoming, some are totally unwelcoming and down-right nasty. The first thing I would recommend is that you do your homework and I suggest the following steps:  1) read Crystal A Wright book: The Hair, Makeup & Fashion Styling Career Guide. It’s worth every penny.  The book assumes you are great at what you do.  It just breaks down the business part of the freelance world; 2) understand that there are rules to every game…LEARN THEM FIRST or you won’t stand a fighting chance at making it!; 3) take beautiful pictures of your work to show-off your skills. Anything that would set you apart from the rest gives you the one-up on everyone else; 4) in all magazines they have "credits" in the binder or the back of the mag. It tells who the hair, makeup or nail artists were and it also tells you who represent them. CALL and find out when do they portfolio previews.  They will do two things...welcome you with open arms or slam the door in your face. Be prepared for anything, expect criticism…but use it as a tool to help you fine-tune both your work and approach.  In the business world, criticism isn’t about you, it’s about maximizing profits!

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Beauty Creatives.com: Where do you get your inspiration when designing nails?

Inspiration comes at anytime from anywhere and everything. It could be a bright color pattern on a dress, the texture of sand, a baby’s blanket, cloud formations, a nature scenery, how the blue from the ocean changes...almost like a "ombre" affect, or a client’s mood. It depends on the client or the "story" of the photo-shoot.


Beauty Creatives.com: What was your first nail job and how long have you been doing nails?

My first freelance nail job was with Mikki Taylor of Essence Magazine. I was a hair assistant to Angie Phipps. Her agent at that time was Deborah Martin. She knew nails was my true love.  Mikki needed a nail tech but I would only get "credit" for the job. Marketing exposure sounded like a good deal to me.  This was the open door that lead me to my current celebrity nail stylist status.

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Beauty Creatives.com:  The first time I did a client’s nails, I had the jitters.   Were you nervous when you first began?  If so, how did you get over the fear?

I’m nervous and fearful all the time. I never get over it. I’ve learned to work WITH my fear and nervousness.  This keeps me humble and things always work out.

Beauty Creatives.com: Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you had while doing nails?

Oooooooh sooooooooo many memorable moments, especially backstage at Fashion Week. But the memory I hold close to my heart is when I was doing Chaka Khan nails in her hotel room for her Esssence magazine interview with Angie Stone. My cell phone rang and it said MOM.  She said "go ahead, pick it up." When I did she yelled towards my phone, "Hi mom!”  I loved telling my mom that was Chaka Khan’s voice. She’s still my favorite celebrity to date. The REALIST!!

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Beauty Creatives.com: You are a teacher in a cosmetology school, can you tell us a little about your job?

I’m a cosmetology teacher "Learning Leader" at a Parisian Beauty Academy, A Paul Mitchell  Partner School in NJ. You can’t just be a Nail Teacher in the state of NJ. I teach "Future Professionals" how to become hair stylist.  It’s a fun and challenging job. It’s hard work but very rewarding.

Beauty Creatives.com: What advice would you give to young women/men for succeeding in the industry?

Stay out of fantasy land. Success does not come overnight. It takes hard work and years of sacrifice and commitment. Doing free gigs, practicing your techniques, keeping a clean

full kit and BEING ON TIME all lead to successful outcomes. I once lost a big gig being five minutes late.  Be a person of your word.  If someone invites you to work with him/her, bring your own tools and kit to perform the nicest, most professional and fastest manicure or pedicure. Stay humble….there is nothing worse than working with someone who is an egotistical hothead or just plain old jerk!  And never gossip on set. My surrogate mom Sharon Vanterpool told me “whenever other people start gossiping start cleaning your kit. Have the cleanest kit on set.  So, whatever you do, always remember that minding your own business and staying out of others is always the best path to travel!”

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Beauty Creatives.com:  You have worked a lot of runway fashion shows…what’s it like to work a show?

Fashion Shows are really hard work.  As a nail-tech, you are often doing nails while hair or make-up is preformed. Depending on who is lead for hair or make-up dictates how well a team works together.  For example some artist won’t let you do nails while they are performing hair or makeup. The artist becomes the "star" and it makes working a show very difficult.  But you can also get a lead artist that understands it is hair, makeup AND nails that make the show fabulous. These are the angels that God send to make a show super successful.

Beauty Creatives.com: I saw a cover you did for the Blackout Awards. The nails were fierce! How long did you have to do the nails and what style was on the nail?

Whenever I do a photo shoot I do a lot of "pre-work."  Press-ons are my best friends. I pre-make nail designs…on nail tips, that I work on for days. When I showed Yancey Edwards his choices he chose the final look, sheer white with a shimmer, black crackle on top.  Crackle had just dropped. Now you can find it in the drug stores.

Beauty Creatives.com: What was the turning points that lead to your success?

The first was going back to Parisian Beauty Academy to become a teacher.  There, Harry Comp the owner of the school introduced me to CND-Creative Nail Design.  I became an Education Ambassador for CND.  This position opened doors like "Fashion Week," doing the professional golfers’ wives’ manis and pedis at the Barcleys for five days and getting paid close to $4,000 and having a funky good time, in the process, being the nail-tech for the show "UGLY BETTY” and seeing that an ad that I did the nails for actually had a place in Times Square, NYC were all breathtaking turning-points for me.

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Beauty Creatives.com:  Writers have “writer’s block.”  Do you ever encounter designer’s block?  If so what do you do to break through the blocks you experience?

If I have "designer block" I usually take a little time out and either go for a walk, drive around or do something totally different.  These steps help me to clear my head and re-fuel my creative energy.

Beauty Creatives.com: Many people see your work and absolutely love it. But I am sure, like every job, there is a downside. What’s the hardest part about being a celebrity stylist?

The hardest part of being a celeb stylist is witnessing a celebrity abuse his/her power. I hate to see when they seem totally comfortable with being a real snot. They don’t realize that they have the power to make someone’s dream come true and instead they unmercifully wound a soul and destroy the spirits of other people.  It totally turns my stomach to see beautiful, but insecure and hateful people make other people feel as though they are insignificant, worthless and beneath them. I will never get use to this kind of inhumane and ungodly behavior!  Sometimes I want to give them a real wake-up call, but like the saying goes “you reap what you sow” and “what goes around comes around.”  I don’t have to lose my temper or sacrifice my job to help mean people get a portion of the punishment they will one day experience…BIGTIME!

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Beauty Creatives.com:  What are the new trends you see in nail fashion?

Long nails are making a comeback. Oval to pointy shaped nails are making a huge comeback! My super-fav look!

Beauty Creatives.com: What is the best part about being a celebrity stylist?

Sharing my stories with my students is the absolute best part. I never dreamed or wanted to work with celebs. To help someone who really wants to work in that arena is the biggest perk for me. Pouring my experience into my students is the yummiest part!


Beauty Creatives.com: What are your thoughts on the dangers of Non-Standard Salons (NSS)?

They survive only because they have a client-base. People are always looking for a cheap deal with top of the line results.  But in this case, you are getting a whole lot less than you’re paying for.  You don’t go to an uncertified physician to get cosmetic surgery and you don’t go to an NSS to get quality nail-care services. If people viewed a manicurist like a lover they would really think twice about their choice of nail salons.  Unfortunately, users of NSS services don’t ask the open ended questions like:  Where did you go to school?  Are you licensed and can I see it?  What method do you use to clean your pedicure unit?  How do you sanitize your tools?  These questions are generally addressed by someone’s attorney AFTER the damage is done, e.g., infection and loss of finger(s).  I guess most people haven’t heard the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.”  People who care about their safety and wellbeing and want quality nail-care services understand that it will cost them more than $25 and they are willing to pay what they know they are worth.  An NSS has its’ place…it’s for the client who prefers to put cost before their safety.  That’s the reality and the bottom line!


Beauty Creatives.com:  How important is continuing education in the Nail Industry?

All beauty schools’ serve "breast-milk" only…it’s a great beginning for beginners; but the real meat and potatoes comes from doing the actual work.  Continuing education is important for keeping up with the latest techniques and trends.  However, actually doing the work on a regular basis is just as important. And, I would go so far as to say, even more important.  You can’t perfect the art of nail design unless you are willing to get lots of practice!  Books provide the basics of the process, but YOU must perfect the technique.  Education and practice create wedded bliss when it comes to mastering the art of being a successful nail stylist.

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Beauty Creatives.com: Can you share one of your favorite tips or tricks with us!

Stop cutting your cuticles!  It only creates hard scar tissue. Use nail cuticle creams with A.H.A (alfa hydroxy acid ) in the ingredients and follow this process up with a cuticle oil.  Also nail bitters are so not sexy...so stop it!

Beauty Creatives.com: Lulu is there anything else you would like our readers to know about becoming a successful nail tech?  Thank you so much for taking the time to share with Beauty Creatives and our readers.

Mikki Taylor gave me advice that I use to this very day.  When I asked her the same question she responded “You have the power to say no. Don’t feel like you have to take everything that comes your way. You can be choosy."  And my most important advice is to walk with God.  No matter what you do in life, you are gonna need Him and when working in the industry, you are really gonna need Him!  Angels look like devils and devils look like angels. So don’t be fooled. Follow your instincts and remember…every smiling face doesn’t you’re your best interest at heart.  STAY IN PRAYER, Practice, practice, practice...and STAY BLESSED. Muaaaah!