Teyana Taylor’s opens 90s Fly-Girl inspired Nail Salon in Harlem
Tonight, at 2330 7th Ave in Harlem, Teyana Taylor will swing open the doors to her new ’90s-themed nail salon, Junie Bee Nails. There will be celebrity friends like Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim in attendance, along with the iconic couturier Dapper Dan, whose guerrilla-style counterfeiting of luxury labels like Louis Vuitton and Fendi were made famous by clients Mike Tyson and LL Cool J in the ’80s. Born and raised in Harlem—which is “one big runway” where “everyone is automatically born with style and grace,” says Taylor with pride—Dap (who now runs a nearby Gucci-backed atelier) will also design the salon’s staff uniforms, pieces that will no doubt complement the artists’ beauty looks: baby hairs and acrylic nails and gold bamboo earrings, at least two pair. In fact, they’ll look a lot like the girl that LL Cool J raps about in his ’90s hit “Around the Way Girl,” the song that Taylor had on repeat while designing the salon because, presumably, of how it talks up the everyday woman who “ain’t afraid to do her thang,” as the track goes.
It’s that decade’s everything-flies, everything-is-fly vibe that Taylor is going for with Junie Bee Nails, which she named after her 2-year-old daughter with her husband, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert. “I love that [time] so much because that was the raw era,” she says, recalling the bright colors and the positive vibes that reverberated in ’90s fashion, music, and art. “And the nails—they had so much fun with the nails, because you weren’t judged for how you wanted to wear them, no matter how fun or long [they were].”
That’s why Taylor and her partner, Coca Michelle, a London-born artist who has been doing nails since she was 6 years old, are “taking it all the way back to the airbrush,” she says. “There will be retro nails, new nails, gel, natural, acrylic, all that, anything you want.” When asked what style Taylor is sporting currently, the singer, dancer, and model, who is known for her lengthy, sculpted, bauble-covered talons, laughs. “Right now, nothing, because I’ve been in the shop literally building with the builders,” she says as she imagines the “crazy, custom, lit” look she’ll get for the opening. “Anyway, I want the first time I get my nails done in a long time to be at my own salon.” And by everyday girls—girls from around the way—no less. Which is exactly why Taylor and Michelle were adamant about hiring a staff that was plucked from an open call to artists on social media. “I always wanted to open up a nail salon in Harlem, mainly to spread more opportunity in my community, because there are so many young girls out here who are so talented but their work is not being seen, or they’re being distracted by other things.”
Even with all her success—the Fade 2 Fit workout series; the Kanye West connection, which can be heard (and hopefully seen) again on her 2018 Yeezy-produced album; her VH1 reality TV show, Teyana & Iman, out March 26; a role as OPI’s new celebrity ambassador—Taylor is not too far removed to see the full picture. “Growing up, I thought I had to be this perfect person,” she says, recalling when she was spotted skateboarding on the streets in Harlem, where she often danced and sang for friends and family. “I didn’t have a demo, I didn’t have a bio or all these other things artists are supposed to have, but I was granted an opportunity to do something with my life anyway. I was a diamond in the rough, just like the girls at Junie Bee.” And with that, hit the boom box.
Junie Bee Nails opens to the public on Friday, February 16. Manicures from $10.