Kristin Gutekunst has a small salon tucked away in her cosy Palermo apartment; a corner bursting with countless shades of nail polish, assortments of different sized brushes, and the odd nail-dryer contraption. It’s a little laboratory of creativity – like every good artist, paintings are strewn across the room, her friend’s hand-made jewellery collection scattered on a table, and an up-and-coming indy band plays on the radio in the background. “I try to create an environment that is very social…almost like a slumber party,” she explains.
Nail Art might only just be reaching Buenos Aires, but it is a trend that is certainly catching on quickly. You only have to look at Kristin’s ‘Nail Me BAires‘ tumblr page to see how adventurous her clients are becoming. Some come to her with an image in mind, and no matter how complicated, Kristin and her consortium of brushes will turn it into an intricate work of art. Better still, some come open minded and wait to see what Kristen has in store for them.
Bizarrely, Kristin’s obsession with nail art began as a distraction to counter her nail-biting habit. “I used to bite my nails, so what I did was paint my nails. I’d usually have it on for about one day and then the next day scrape it all off, and paint them again at night. So every two days I’d be painting my nails.”
As time went by, a simple manicure became more and more intricate, more avant-garde. It was in South Asia, Kristin recalls, that she got more creative. “At the time I was living in Thailand teaching English, so I had a lot of free time; I was living by myself for the first time in my life. I didn’t have internet. So I’d just paint my nails.
“I got bored of painting the same colour all the time so I started doing a bit of art; it was just for fun. I was teaching middle school at the time and the kids would be like ‘oh my god!’.”
Returning to the United States, Kristin had access to all the new toys of the trade, including a battery-powered nail dryer that is amusing enough to play with, never mind the manicure. Fully equipped and with years of tips and tricks her under belt, Kristin went on to set up shop in Buenos Aires last April. With her post-graduate degree coming to an end now, she says she is ready to give the nail salon her full attention.“Here people really noticed my nail art – it was actually men that encouraged me to start a business. They would always stop me and say ‘Whoa, I’ve never seen anything like that, my girlfriend would love that’, or ‘my sister would love that’.”
Kristin offers a range of manicures, from the basic to the deluxe, with striking designs. What is unique, though, is that she also hosts nail art parties, both private and public.
The events are just that. An evening of nail art tutorials – how to apply polish correctly, tips on making it last longer – always accompanied by food and choice entertainment. One of these ‘Picada Parties’ was galactic themed, where an astrologer came in to read horoscopes and cartas natalles (birth readings). Another had girls learning how to use quirky colours and glitter, while Kristin’s friend at Shiru Catering – who she describes as the best sushi chef in this part of town – cooked up a collection of mouth-watering Japanese treats.
Prices range from $50 for a basic manicure including two nails with ‘jazzy designs’, and reach up to $100 for a super deluxe version that includes glitters and gems. There are also promos for those who bring a friend (buy one get 50% off) or bloggers that write a post about the salon ($20 discount)
Kristin deals mostly by appointment, so to book a manicure or to go along to one of her bi-monthly events – contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 11-6951-4525.