L’Oréal Blackett meets an ambidextrous talent working from her home
I’ve been given a code to a city centre flat and a few special instructions (take the lift, turn right, call before entering...). I was told that on the other end of the door resides the best nail artist in Manchester. And to bring snacks.
“Please excuse the washing,” laughs Heather Errington, kicking away some discarded clothing.
The first time we’re meeting is in her apartment/mini salon. Friends episodes play on repeat in her living room and her manicure station is her kitchen breakfast bar. It feels like I’ve walked into the gaff of every millennial woman in Manchester. I feel right at home.
Heather is adamant that she'll never use stencils.
Sure, it’s an unconventional start to a manicure but I wasn’t expecting a bog standard file and polish.
Nails By Heather is growing in popularity thanks to an unintentional brand of ‘need to know’ cool. Heather remains anonymous on social media and her only means of contact is through Instagram direct messages. Her clients include major fashion influencers, business women and online fashion brands yet I only learned of her via a fleeting Insta Stories post. It's all been a bit of a happy accident.
“I’ve been taking the business seriously for about a year, now I’m fully booked up. After I got all my qualifications I would practice on my friends and it’s just grown from there. It’s really unexpected,” she says laughing.
By trade, the 26-year-old is a presenter and host, working for major festivals across Europe. The nail business happened after she practiced on friends. It just so happened that’s she’s really good at it.
Taking inspiration from London manicure specialists, WAH nails, Heather is certainly doing much more than a French manicure from her city centre digs. Her clients can expect Art Deco inspired claws, Picasso style contemporary prints, marble talons and teeny-tiny encapsulated flowers sealed by clear gel polish. If you want miniature Sistine chapels painted on your ten digits then she’ll likely give it a go.
“I love when I get a client who wants to get creative,” she laughs, "sometimes a person will come in wanting a classic red polish and leave with zebra print."
For many, a weekly manicure is equally a grooming necessity as it is a treat (and as routine as washing your armpits or plucking your brows); Nails By Heather brings back the childlike fun and creativity of painting your nails. The process reminded me of being a kid, colouring every nail in multi-coloured markers.
“I badly burned my hand to the point I couldn’t move it recently," she said chattily. "Luckily I’m ambidextrous and have been working with my left hand for a weeks.”
Heather’s gift of two skilled hands is just one of the many things that sets her apart from the many manicurists operating in and around Manchester. Her nail art is all entirely hand drawn with a brush she bought on Ebay. Heather is adamant that she never uses stencils.
"I used to paint, so I guess this is just an extension of that," she says humbly.
For my own nails, we've gone for modern minimalism with sharp angular lines. Her hands don’t tremble and she swiftly draws the identical patterns on each nail; I really need her to do my eyeliner each morning...
“Basically I hold my breath,” she laughs. “Plus, I’m a perfectionist, everything must match.”
As I’m sat in Heather’s flat – happily sipping her coffee and watching an episode of Friends I’ve already seen ten times - I can’t help but want to selfishly keep her as my own little secret (mainly so I can guarantee a booking).
It’s no wonder Heather is in demand by many local salons. For now, she’s taking bookings from her Instagram page and operating from her home. I have a feeling she won’t be for much longer…
Next time, I’m thinking ten individual Mona Lisa portraits. It’s an ambitious request but I'm confident she can do it.