Just in case you didn’t know, a session manicurist is a term used for a nail artist who is represented by an agency and works in the fashion and entertainment industry on celebrities, celebrity or editorial campaigns, commercials, or any form of paid media.

When working in fashion, every single detail of the model counts, including her hands and feet. Think about how many ads you see with a hand model? We take this for granted and don’t even realize that there are professionals who make this look effortless and fun.

Meet Geraldine Holford: a top session manicurist working in New York with some of the best photographers and celebrity clients that many nail artists dream of! She is also one of the most well connected artists in all of the Big Apple because she is always putting people together to make more fabulous art.

Geraldine knew almost her whole life she was meant to do this and took a chance on her dream. Born in Canada and raised in London, she decided to choose New York City as her home after making the dangerous (but enticing) leap from her corporate desk job to become a session manicurist.
When she is not creating looks backstage for the NYFW runways, you can find her doing manicures for the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Marie Claire. She landed such incredible jobs because of her attention to detail, creativity, and ability to predict and set nail trends. She also enjoys creating red-carpet nail art for celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Dianna Argon, Karlie Kloss, Isabelle Hupert, Selena Gomez, and Natalie Portman. Her average work day also includes shooting huge advertising campaigns for companies like Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Swarovski, and Marc Jacobs. This has given her the amazing opportunity of working with many famous photographers around the world, such as Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Sorrenti, Cedric Buchet, Nicolas Kantor, and Ben Hassett.

We had a chance to ask Geraldine a few questions:

Why did you decide to become a session manicurist?
I’ve always been obsessed with nails and I knew I wanted to work in fashion in some capacity. I saw the value in what the manicurist brings to the table and really set out to be the best that I could be. For me, nails were what I had the passion for and I used that to open doors for myself.

What do you love about nails – why nails?
I’ve always been fascinated by rituals and manicuring is a ritual. There are set steps and rules and if you follow them, you can truly make something beautiful. When your nails are polished and groomed, you really do hold yourself differently. It becomes this instant confidence booster.

Who was your very first client?
My very first session job was a cover of a magazine with Ashley Greene.

What is your favorite nail polish color ever?
Oh wow, that’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is. I have so many but Holiday and Frenzy by Chanel are my two all-time favorites.

What is your favorite color for Fall 2018?
I’m kind of obsessed with Washed Denim by Chanel. Even though it was a spring color from last year, I feel like it can stand the test of time for Fall 2018.

What do you think of gel nails?
I love gel manicures. They have their place and I love doing nail art on clients with gels.

What has been your one challenge about being in the industry?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is getting the respect. Manicuring is largely held in low regard so fighting for a spot on the team, fighting for an acceptable rate, fighting for creativity. I really try to drive home that we are as important to the team as anyone else there. Our work is valid and necessary. I’m very fortunate that at this stage, I’ve gained the respect of my peers and photographers I work with do see the value I bring to the picture but it’s a constant struggle for all of us on some level.

Nail art has been so big in the recent years, where do you think the trends are leading? Eco brands, more gels, art?
I think that nailists are going to continue to bring creative art to the main space. I think using different texture mediums and hardware will continue and the science behind nails will continue to expand. There are so many creative people finding their way into our business and it keeps it super exciting. I’m constantly amazed at what I see out there and it gives me endless inspiration.

Written by: Melissa Meister