Painting the Town

The name Beauty School Dropouts,conjures images of the Pink Ladies, poodle skirts and summer lovin’, but the local nail art company of the same name is anything but.

Beauty School Dropouts is a mobile manicure company, specializing in one-of-a-kind nail art. Emilie Gauvreau, 23, and Kristina Smith, 27, started their business last Fall as an outlet for creativity and as a way to justify their combined collection of 150 bottles of nail polish. “We just took a hobby to an unhealthy level,” Gauvreau laughed.

The Dropouts take an alternative approach to the traditional nail salon by toting their two large toolboxes full of nail polishes and tools to their clients’ homes.

Nail art can be anything from tiny roses, to manicures inspired by music videos to a mini matryoshka doll painted on the ring finger. The client’s imagination is the limit.

They also set up shop in various businesses around town. In February, they held an event at Holt Renfrew’s Ottawa location to promote nail guru, Deborah Lippman’s products. Smith said they count Lippman as one of their heroes.

The duo said the local fashion community is very supportive and count the ladies at Victoire, one of Ottawa’s finest fashion boutiques, as their biggest fans. They often organize event in collaboration with Victoire.

The Dropout’s custom manicures are all featured on their blog. This is where perspective clients can peruse countless manicures and book their first nail art experience.

Their most requested manicures are leopard print, zebra stripes, and “fairy nails”, which look like the tips of the nails were dipped in fairy dust.

Manicures usually last for a half hour are customized for each customer.

The nail duo never went to beauty school, but both hold university degrees. Gauvreau studied psychology at the University of Ottawa, while Smith holds a film and media studies degree from Queens.

The pair met at work and have been best friends ever since.

Gauvreau and Smith said their company is booming and hope to one day create nail products. The Dropouts have found a trendy niche, Women’s Wear Daily reported nail polish sales increased by 59 per cent last year and doesn’t every girl like to have pretty nails?

Smith said painting her nails helped her kick her nail biting habit and boosted her confidence. Gauvreau said she enjoys the calming aspect of sipping tea while painting her nails.

The Beauty School Dropouts speak, breath and buy nail polish. Smith said she was at a concert in New York City, when a “rocker dude” complimented her manicure. She pulled out her polish and painted a skull on his nail.

Click here to see and hear the Beauty School Dropouts in action.

The BSD’s Top Places to Purchase Polish in Ottawa:

1. Sally Beauty Supply “You can get OPI for under $7.”

2. Winners “For small collections.”

3. Murale “For Chanel and Lippman.”

4. Top Shop “Great colours.”

5. Wah Nails “They made a great nail pen.”