February 25, 2018
It’s a cold, February evening outside with a brisk breeze that gently nudges you along with each step. I’m due to meet a friend of mine after work to take a few promotional images for an exciting new collaboration. I quickly gather my belongings—a Polaroid 300 Instant Camera in tow—and head out into the hustle and bustle of Midtown rush hour. Feeling a chilly gust of air brush against my face, I hear a delicate and familiar “hi.” Sakile Broomes greets me with a warm hug and an infectious smile that can brighten the darkest of days. Dressed in sleek black with a maroon matte lip that compliments her reddish-ombré dreadlocks, she radiates an energy that is friendly and approachable. Though incredibly soft-spoken, she possesses a remarkable strength within most African American queens that says—I’m here, I’m heard, I’m respected. This black girl magic shines throughout as we venture to a small florist for an impromptu photo shoot. Very thoughtful and aware, Sakile notices that I only have two shots left on my camera. “I don’t want to waste your film,” she remarks with a hint of concern. I tell her that it’s fine, and after finding the best lighting and hitting ‘em with them angles—I think she nailed it. Artist, friend, entrepreneur, and sole founder and owner of BlaqueX Nail Art, Sakile is taking control of her happy and spreading positivity with all her clients. The twenty-five year old business owner chats with me about her work, creating a brand, and finding her voice while staying true to herself.
MALCOM MOON: I wanted to begin by asking you about the motivation and inspiration to start your own business. Was BlaqueX a passion project from youth or did you discover this skill later on?
SAKILE BROOMES: I started doing nail art as a hobby when I was in undergrad. When I graduated, I thought about how I wanted to spend my life. I’ve always been a creative and wanted to honor that, contribute some sort of joy in the world, and ultimately I realized that I wanted to work for myself. I had no idea that doing nails for a living would be where I ended up, but after deciding to go to nail school there was no looking back. I discovered that this was something that I was extremely passionate about and took it from there.
MOON: Where did the name “BlaqueX” come from?
BROOMES: I graduated from college under less than desirable circumstances and felt like a failure. So at the time, I was thinking a lot about the phrase “black excellence” and what that meant to me. I wanted to take control of my story and redefine excellence beyond trips and degrees, and so I decided that excellence also included self-care, black joy, and being your authentic self—all things that can be so hard in the society we live in. The name BlaqueX is short for black excellence and is a reminder to others and myself to redefine excellence for themselves.
MOON: I’ve been a personal fan of your brand for a while. From attending one of your open consultations a couple summers ago, it was so nice to see you radiating black girl magic and spreading positivity. Would you say that’s one of the goals of personal grooming—to provide mental/emotional clarity?
BROOMES: Absolutely! The goal of my manicure sessions is to help my clients feel like their best selves. I do that by making sure to hold [a safe] space for my clients, building genuine friendships, and treating nail art sessions like a collaboration.
MOON: What style of nail art do you specialize in?
BROOMES: I specialize in hand drawn nail art and for the most part it’s minimalistic or patterned. I’m still working on developing a signature style (or on deciding on if I even want to). I’m always learning new things and experimenting.
MOON: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
BROOMES: I get inspiration from the things that I am naturally drawn to—whether that’s certain colors, patterns, or music/images from pop culture that celebrate and reflect people like me.
MOON: We talked about this before, but let’s talk about your social media and branding. Your Instagram is stunning! I love the aesthetic, and I feel like I immediately get a sense of your personality and essence through the content alone. Without giving away too many of your secrets, can you explain how you discovered your branding (color schemes, “voice,” etc.)?
BROOMES: From being on Tumblr for a while now, I’ve gotten a sense of what I like and what I don’t like. I try to post according to the colors that I’m attracted to at the time, and I try not to post grainy, low quality images. That’s all I do. Laughs. I’m no social media expert, but I try to be intentional about what I post.
MOON: What’s one common misconception or error that people make in regards to nail care?
BROOMES: One common misconception is that all of a person’s nail care happens in the manicure session. Regular manicures can help, but ultimately, it is up to the client to take care of their nails through healthy diet and habits. Another bonus misconception is that people should cut their cuticles. There’s confusion about what the actual cuticle is. What most people think is the cuticle is actually live skin called the eponychium and shouldn’t be cut (for the most part). The real cuticle is dead skin and doesn’t hurt when it is cut or pushed back.
MOON: What are your preferred materials and can you briefly describe your ideal work environment?
BROOMES: This is a tough question. I definitely have my go to products that are long lasting and meet my criteria of being vegan, cruelty-free and toxin-free. But I’m open to exploring other products, since I’m relatively new to the game. Also, new products are constantly coming out and I want to keep up.
My ideal working environment is honestly one that is ergonomic and doesn’t put more strain on my body than there needs to be. I suffered an injury at one of the salons that I used to work at, so now I’m hyper aware of this. Otherwise, I’m pretty flexible about other aspects of work environments. I love working both with people and by myself. I also like a relatively calm environment, since I’m extremely empathic and tend to absorb other people’s energy.
MOON: What advice do you have for young women of color wanting to start their own business?
BROOMES: I would say to lean on your strengths and have a flexible plan. Things may not always be the way you planned to be, and you might even be missing things, but launch anyway and you’ll learn along the way. Figure out what your resources are and who your support system is and lean into them as well, but know that your motivation and drive should come from you. Know that what’s for you, will be for you. Trust your timing and go with your intuition. All super cliché things, but that’s what’s worked for me so far.
MOON: Your work seems to serve a greater purpose. It seems like a commentary on our society (political, social, and cultural). Do you ever worry what others might think about a design that is too-forward thinking?
BROOMES: No, I don’t worry about that too much. I know that my work is not for everyone and that there are people who will appreciate what I do. All I am doing is being who I am, and it would be exhausting to force myself to be any other way. I also accept that I am flawed and won’t always get it right, but I know that I am a good person and I hold myself accountable.
For more information on BlaqueX or booking, please visit www.blaquexnailart.com.