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Fuego Nails
courtesy of Instagram/@fuegonailsldn

Fuego Nails is the force empowering women and brujas alike with nail art

TextMorna Fraser

Meet Natasha Blake, the person behind nail haven and safe-space, Fuego Nails

“B.A.D Nails for Bad Bitches” reads the Instagram bio for London-based nail salon, Fuego Nails. One glance at the feed and you’re taken through an archive of intricate, highly-embellished nail design, iconic female figures and bold rallying cries. It’s empowering, unapologetic, and fearless.

Running Fuego Nails is Natasha Blake, who’s love for creativity inspired her to launch the brand. “I’ve always been an artist, ever since I can remember,” she reflects. “I’ve studied and practised it since school. But for me, I knew I wanted my art to be wearable.” Initially planning to translate this interest into a clothing line, Blake moved to the world of nail art after a long fascination with the most elaborate, overstated designs. A recent discovery by her mother indicates an early intrigue with the craft: “My mum found a picture I drew when I was eight years old of nail art designs. Somehow I must’ve known back then that it was what I wanted to do.”

A practising Bruja, Blake exhibits this same sense of radiant intuition now as she did in her childhood. Like her early gift for creativity, she states that “being a bruja is a gift that’s always with you, you're just not aware of what it is yet.” The art Blake creates is otherworldly, deeply symbolic and distinctive. Using a mixture of skill and intuitive energy, she works collaboratively with her clients to materialise their visions into tangible realities. “I get a lot of requests for spell designs. I like to sit with the client over tea and have a consultation – we’ll talk about what they’re wanting to attract the most in their life at that moment, and I’ll reflect that through the art. Whether that be with rune symbols, numbers, colours, or even a crystal.”

Born to a Spanish and Greek-Cypriot mother and a father from New Zealand, Blake grew up around a world of mixed cultural histories and artefacts. Known for her use of religious iconography and ornate designs, Blake attributes these tropes to her Catholic upbringing and “endless memories of Spanish Cathedrals.” Raised in Andalusia, Blake was surrounded by religious shrines and statues placed “all over the little towns and sometimes hidden away down narrow paths and alleyways. I used to linger around them a lot as a child.”

Growing up, the worlds of Brujeria and Catholicism collided. “My family didn’t even like when I first started collecting crystals, so I don’t talk to them about that aspect of me.” As a result of this, Blake aims to provide a space for those who need to be listened to and heard through Fuego Nails. “I see my studio as a safe space,” she states. “Clients can confide in me and ask for advice. I often do readings after the appointments if I feel they’re in need of it.” For Blake, Fuego Nails is an experience, largely motivated by human compassion. “To be able to see the wearer of my art with a huge smile on their face whilst looking down at their hands really makes it all worthwhile.” Ultimately, Blake wants her clients to leave feeling considered, understood and empowered.   

There is a strong feeling of sisterhood within Fuego Nails, from the community of followers to the #WomenWithWeaponsWednesday feature on Instagram. In homage to her clients, Blake plans to launch a line of press-on designs inspired by five fierce personas – Fuego, La Bruja, Angelita, Bad Bitch and Trash Queen. When asked about the most empowering design she’s created, Blake recalls the ‘Kali Ma’ imagery she did on herself. “Within my practice, I invoke a lot of goddesses. In that time of my life, I felt like I needed Kali’s guidance the most.” Instead of an invocation at a shrine or altar, Blake took to painting a fearsome, powerful depiction of the goddess on her nails. “Kali represents new beginnings and the death of the ego. It felt so empowering to be able to carry her with me then.”

Wearable art can signify the connection between a person’s inner being and their physical identity. Nails serve as an extension of the persona and, for Blake, they are canvases to map out the complex universes of someone’s character. Blake believes that the importance of nail art lies in “being able to reflect a vision and making people’s dreams come true.” For the wearer, they are personal emblems of courage and aspiration. For Blake, they are dreams and visions made real.

When thinking about the future of beauty, Blake ruminates that it will look like “complete and absolute freedom of expression.” Having built a platform that is fuelled by empowered communities and bold calls-to-action, this ideal future might not be too far away.  

You can catch Fuego Nails in collaboration with Femme Fatale Tattoo in London between 8th-22nd February.

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