Freehand nail art is one of the biggest emerging trends in the world of nails. It’s a skill which is extremely difficult to master which is why, when you find someone who is an expert at it, you should see what advice they have to offer. So, in this edition of Ask the Expert, we’re speaking to Joely Ocean, a true pioneer in freehand nail art. 

Hey Joely, tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m 23 and have been a nail tech for 4 years now. I’m salon-based and also have a press-on nail business that’s now a year old!

How did you get started in the nail industry?

I used to work in a tanning salon and loved getting my nails done there and coming up with designs. In fact, I would have almost anything on my nails! It was just the one nail tech (@daniellemarianails) who worked there at the time. The owner wanted to expand the nail side of things and asked if I wanted to go on a nail course and the rest is history!

What motivated you to start your own business?

I’ve always imagined having my own business of some sort. My parents have had their own business for as long as I can remember and it’s always something I’ve admired.

You have a huge social following, what top tips would you give to someone wanting to grow their nail page following?

Find your style. I think mine’s definitely quite bold and colourful most of the time. So for me, I think of how I can make my pictures stand out if someone was just scrolling on their explore page. Definitely post regularly if you can and try to stay active on your stories etc. It’s also good to interact with other accounts. Although Instagram is quite crazy at the moment in the nail world, as everyone is constantly creating looks because we have nothing else to do!

It can be easy to get caught up and feel the pressure on Insta though. If this happens, I like to step away for a couple of days and come back when there’s something I can’t wait to paint on my nails. 

How important has social media been to your career?

Social media I feel is a must for any business in this generation. It 100% helps a business grow and it’s helped my career massively. From being recognised and becoming an ambassador for Salons Direct and Glossify, to working with other big brands and being given amazing opportunities, it’s all thanks to social media.

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Tell us a bit more about ‘Pressed by Jo’. How did this come about?

I follow a few pages in America and could see that press-on nails were quite big over there, so I thought I’d give it a go myself and did it in my spare time when I wasn’t in the salon.

The timing was extremely lucky as I started it in February 2020, when Coronavirus had only just started making headlines. Fast forward to a month later and the whole of the UK was in lockdown, which gave me the incentive and opportunity to get my business off the ground!

What would you say has been your biggest challenge in your career? And, how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I would say is probably the first few years after I started to do nails. There was a steep learning curve, from taking hours to do one set of nails, constantly doing nail repairs and getting complaints!

It takes a long time to master acrylic etc it can be really off putting and make you want to give up, but with the support of colleagues, friends and family I was able to persevere and I’m so glad I did.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about setting up their own nail business?

Do it!

Like I said, once you’re through the stage of mastering techniques it’s such a fun, creative job and it’s so nice meeting new people and building relationships with clients.

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What are the essential tools, products and equipment that you can’t work without?

A fine line brush would be my most important tool for all my art! But apart from that, just all the essentials such as prep tools, acrylic etc.

Do you have any tips for people who want to improve their nail art skills?

I always say to stay light on your brush in terms of pressure. If you apply too much pressure on your brush it becomes much easier to make mistakes. A lot of nail techs have online masterclasses for different styles of nail art too. They can be really useful!

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Instagram and Pinterest. I could scroll for days there’s so much to look at! I try and think how I can put my own spin on things when I find a design I love. 

What does 2021 and beyond look like for you? Do you have any big plans?

I have lots of big plans for Pressed by Jo which will all be revealed over the next month or so. I’m so excited and it’s been something I’ve been working on since May 2020 so I’m ready for it all to be revealed now.

Find professional nail supplies and more online at Salons Direct.

Read more Ask the Expert features on the Salons Direct blog

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