I had so much fun on Wednesday.
I know, you’re all like, “You seem to have fun all the time, Melisa! Geez!”
Or something like that.
But for real, I had so much fun on Wednesday because I got the opportunity to interview Katie Cazorla, owner of The Painted Nail salon in Los Angeles and the star of “Nail Files”, a reality tv show on the TV Guide network.
When I received an invitation to interview Katie during her media tour stop in Chicago this week (to promote the second season of “Nail Files”), I couldn’t believe what a great fit this was. They approached me because of my blog, having no idea that I write around nine feature articles about the business side of nail salons for NAILPRO magazine (the “bible” of the nail industry) each year. Katie had already been on my radar and I devoured each episode of “Nail Files” in season 1. Also, though I didn’t do the story, she was on the cover of NAILPRO last summer. In fact, her cover shoot was filmed for season one! Check out this clip, which also features my awesome editor!
As you can see with just that little snippet, Katie is hilarious. I enthusiastically emailed the PR rep and reserved my twenty-minute appointment to chat with her personally.
On Tuesday night I made up my list of questions and gathered up my iPad (so I could record our interview: I hate taking notes while I’m talking with someone!), my camera, my media kit, and a notebook and pen just in case my iPad went haywire (be prepared, you know?). I was all ready to go. I wasn’t at all nervous about talking with her; the only thing that freaked me out was that I have been biting my nails again and letting ANY nail person see them, let alone the self-proclaimed “Queen of Nails”, well, ick. I resolved to keep them hidden.
When I arrived for the interview Katie greeted me with a big hug. She was very friendly and warm, and I felt comfortable immediately. The PR rep left us alone and we sat down. The first thing I did was present her with a copy of my book, because I didn’t know if she would have any downtime in the city while visiting but figured I could be of assistance if she did. She was genuinely thrilled to receive it, even flipping through it quickly right then. She told me that–although this is her first visit to Chicago EVER–she adores traveling and comes from a family of travelers (her mom was one of the first Peace Corps volunteers!).
We talked about NAILPRO and a little bit about the nail industry that might bore you to tears so I’ll skip the recap on it but it was very interesting to me.
Katie said, “Oh, I want to show you something!” She called the PR rep in and asked her to retrieve a couple of items from her bedroom, and when she returned Katie said, “I have to show you the new product I have coming out!” She opened up a small box and pulled out a few unmarked polish bottles.
“Let me see your nails.”
My worst nightmare. (Okay, granted, not my *worst* nightmare. But that’s where my head went.)
My life flashed before my eyes (uh, sort of) and then I hesitantly gave her one of my hands, sputtering about how I’m a lifelong nail biter and “yikes” and assorted other things that I can’t even remember.
“Oh, they’re fine,” she TOTALLY (but nicely) LIED, glancing at my Chiclet-sized nails as she unscrewed the top of one of the bottles. “You are not going to believe this,” she said.
And she was right. I stopped focusing on my mildly neurotic tendencies for a moment as she painted two of my nails (with one coat) and stuck them under a UV light for about thirty seconds. When the light went off, my nails were DRY. Fantastic! This new, as-yet-unnamed product is a one-coat (no base coat, no top coat) gel polish that is hard and dry after only a few seconds under lights, and she’s working on getting it out into the market by Christmas via ShopNBC. (Naturally when I get word on its release, I’ll post it here.) I was amazed.
We were talking and laughing as she took another nail (oy!) and applied a Kiss Nail Dress to it.
My list of questions stayed folded on the coffee table as we chatted about her flight, the two-hour time difference between here and her home in California, how she does her own hair and makeup for tv appearances, internet trolls, and the crazy stuff that’s happened in season 2 of the show already (toddler beauty pageants! clients eating foot scrub! Seriously, you need to watch this show.). I also recommended that she do one thing while she’s in Chicago, and this was the exchange:
Me: “Can I recommend that if you do ONE THING in Chicago, you take a river cruise? Whether or not you’re interested in the architectural facts the tour guide will talk about, it’s really the best way to see the city.”
Katie: “River cruise? Ooh! How much is it, like fifty bucks?”
Me: “About twenty-five dollars!”
Katie, shocked: “WHAT?”
Me: “Twenty-five dollars. I mean, there are different companies and…”
Katie: “Do they serve drinks? (laughing)”
Me: “Yes! Well, you have to buy them but they do serve drinks on the boats.”
Katie: “OH MY GOD, I AM IN! You know me!”
And the funny thing is? Even though I don’t KNOW her, I sort of do, because she is EXACTLY like she is on the show. The only thing that was missing was a High Five. This was one of my favorite parts of our conversation because for a moment it was like we were old friends. I loved being so comfortable chatting with this person who I had just met moments before, and I loved that in person she is identical to what I see on television.
As we talked, I got more confirmation of what I see when watching the show. Katie is super nice, funny, genuine, honest, a little cuckoo-crazy (in the best way), and full of business savvy. She is a really hard worker and it all shows through in her brand which now includes her original salon and lounge, a second location opening soon in Miami, her branded nail polish line, the show, and her new products coming up.
She painted the other two nails on my right hand and then declared, “To be fair, I think your nails look a million times better.”
“Well,” I said, laughing, “that really wasn’t hard to do.”
The PR rep then walked in to let us know that time was up, and I said, “Oh no! Not yet!”
Katie said, “Oh, we’re not done yet! We are not done.”
As it turned out, Katie didn’t have anyone scheduled after me and we continued our conversation. When it was all said and done we spent nearly an hour together. (Thank you, Katie!)
She said, “I feel like we should just keep interviewing so I can do your other hand, because you can’t just have one hand done.”
And that’s what we did.
I wish I could show you my hands but frankly, even though they look a million times better, my nails are SO SHORT and Katie didn’t have the time to do my cuticles and the other steps involved in a real manicure. You’ll just have to use your imagination because, also, I don’t want to put a picture on the internet that would lead to Katie making the news for doing a horrible nail job, when that’s not what happened at all because she was just demonstrating a new product on me.
My list of questions? Out the window. Totally. This was free flow conversation, one hundred percent. Here are some things I learned:
~ I mentioned that her bio says that she opened The Painted Nail after getting an absolutely terrible pedicure and that although that sounds like she just snapped her fingers and the salon happened, I imagined there was a lot of work involved in between those two events. Indeed, I was right. After the “last straw pedicure”, she bought a bunch of books and studied up on business. She also went to nail school to learn the trade so could be a better business owner. (She was a stand-up comic before that!) She bought a mall cart before opening the salon to see how it would go (hated the cart and being in the mall, by the way) and then, 18 months later, opened The Painted Nail.
~ There are 5,000 salons in the Los Angeles metro area (yikes).
~ Katie and her fiancée Walter (Afanasieff, a multiple-Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter who has worked with Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Kenny G, Destiny’s Child, and enough other big names to make you scream “WOWZERS!”) are much like other busy couples: they are both running around taking care of their own careers and try to spend the time catching up over morning coffee or at the very, very end of the day. (Walter, by the way, is on the show too. The dynamic between the two of them is very sweet.)
~ Katie invited someone to her grand opening party who in turn asked a friend to accompany him. The friend didn’t want to go to a party celebrating a nail salon but was convinced after he found out that Kenny G was playing. The friend was a television producer who met Katie and saw how she ran her business, and then sent SallyAnn Salsano (creator of “Jersey Shore”) to check out Katie and The Painted Nail for herself in case she wanted to develop a show. Eight months after SallyAnn visited the salon–totally incognito–“Nail Files” was born.
~ Katie has loved nails since she was a child. She even still has her first Raggedy Ann doll, on which she polished the mittens because it bothered her–at around age four!–that Raggedy Ann didn’t seem to have fingers and nails. (I loved this story!)
~ Even though she’s got internet trolls like any other person who has a public presence, Katie gets emails all the time from women who have been inspired by her success to take action on their own dreams, and she hangs onto them because they are inspiring in return. She read me one of them, and we both got a little misty-eyed.
After an hour, we wound the conversation down so I could get some pictures before leaving. Katie insisted on posing with my book. Really, she did.
And then of course, a picture of the two of us:
I want to thank Katie so much for spending the time with me, especially because it was triple the amount of time I was originally scheduled for. It was truly a pleasure and though I was a fan of hers already, I enjoy her even more after having the one-on-one opportunity. (You rock, Katie!!!)
I hope you’ll check out “Nail Files” on the TV Guide network. It’s on Sundays at 9:00 Eastern, 8:00 Central. Here’s a sneak peek:
Also, if you’re in Chicago, Katie will be at Grant Park tomorrow–Saturday September 1–during the Chicago Jazz Festival, with the “Nail Files” Mobile Nail Spa. The Mobile Spa will be parked on the east end of the event, near the Jazz on Jackson stage, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Katie will be giving free manicures and chatting with folks down there, so head down and meet her yourself!
Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this post in any way (I even paid for my own parking!). Except for being asked to let you know about Nail Files season 2 and the Chicago appearance of Katie and the Painted Nail Mobile Spa, I was not asked to write about anything else specifically. All words and pictures are mine. Video courtesy of Youtube and TV Guide Network.
Fabulous post and awesome interview, Melisa! I laughed when reading, after your allotted 20 mins., how Katie insisted that you guys were NOT done. Personally, I can understand Katie’s wanting to hang around with you for just a little longer and your being awesome like that. Such a fun read, that Katie sounds like a whole lot of fun and thanks for sharing the experience!
Great job, you have touched so many “stars”.
LOVE IT! Isn’t it fantastic when “celebrities” turn out to be really amazing REAL people? Great piece – I’ll totally check out Nail Files!!!!