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Nail Styling

  1. I remember it so well… I had just completed a course in nail styling.

With my hair dyed as blonde as blonde could get and wearing a grungy outfit by Roberto Cavalli, I visited all my friends, family members and close acquaintances to really get the art of making artificial nails down.

I went armed with my kit and my mother’s Philips facial tanner. She did love a bronzed look, dear woman, even in winter – never realising that the long-term effects would leave her with skin not unlike a Mulberry bag in oak leather. But that’s not the point here – the thing is that gel nails harden under UV light.

Having to use other people’s ‘workspace’ often meant making do with whatever was available, but one thing I could always count on was the ironing board. And after a lot of practice, I finally worked up the courage to ask for a small fee in return for my many hours of work.

It was not long before I invested that money in a professional UV lamp that sped up my work a bit and gave my mother full-time access to her beloved facial tanner once more. My new tool was a great success: I learned to work faster and better, and my circle of gel nail aficionados grew. The time was soon ripe for a second lamp and a new course, this time in acrylic nails.

The holiday money earned through my side job at a video store paid for an electric nail file. Now I was really ready for the big leagues.

Then came 2004, which saw me no longer working from my customers’ homes. Instead I had a job at a nail salon, and I loved it: I had so much interaction with customers and colleagues, the atmosphere was great, and I was learning so much.

You can’t really capture it in words on the page, but I’m going to try anyway. I’m an aesthete, and seeing and making beautiful things brings me joy. The blissful feeling of a perfectly groomed appearance is the ultimate joy for many women, and I feel privileged to be able to share this wonderful experience with them and contribute to it. I love doing this more than anything else, so when I’m working it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like fulfilling my passion.

Fast-forward to 2012. I finally had my own business! Which meant that I could finally do my work as I see fit, according to my own vision. Since then, I’ve been completely in my element. I have a lot of new customers, but a lot of long-time loyal customers as well. Customers who visit not just to get their nails done, but also to see me, to vent or simply to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. I love my work and I work a lot – and I mean a lot.

  1. It feels weird to not be allowed to work. To not be allowed to make my customers’ day with a good chat, amusing back-and-forth or spirited discussion to go with their professionally painted nails.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And that’s the truth. I love my business, and I love my customers even more. They’re not just my customers, they’re more than that, and I can’t wait to get back to work and welcome them back with open arms.

Until then, I guess I’ll do what half the people in the Netherlands are doing: wear a bathrobe and clear out the attic. Who knows – maybe I’ll bump into an old facial tanner up there.

by Angelique Piso

What’s going on behind the silent facades of the Jordaan district during lockdown? Verhalenfestival Jordaan – the Jordaan Story Festival – asked residents to submit their stories. What’s going on in their heads and in their lives?

Eight of the stories were read and recorded by local actors and used to create the audio walk Niets te zien (Nothing to See).


Het huis van Amsterdam met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Soundtrackcity