NailMe BAires: Not Your Average Manicure
Article by Sharon Salt.
I met Kristin Gutekunst, founder of nail art studio NailMe BAires, at her near-empty
apartment in Monserrat.
She recently moved in with her boyfriend in Las Cañitas.
“I love my old apartment, but I love my boyfriend more”.
Even though most of her things are gone, you can tell that she is scattered, in the brilliant way of someone who has a hundred crazy good ideas running through her head at once. In
fact, she has her own studio in the new apartment because, she says, “Sometimes I’m
awake all night and I just need paint something!”
Kristin first started painting her nails as a way to incentivize herself not to bite them, but she quickly got bored and began experimenting with different techniques and designs. Before long, she was practicing regularly on her friends’ nails and, soon after, the demand was high enough that she was able to start charging.
In the beginning, she was inspired mostly by other nail art and the fabrics she saw while traveling in Bolivia, but now she is constantly absorbing inspiration. She collects baubles, tiny rhinestones, crushed seashells, to see how she can incorporate them into her designs.
Getting your nails done by Kristin is equal parts salon and slumber party, like hanging out with your best friend who also happens to be particularly adept at nail art. She’s so personable and open, you can’t help but feel like telling her everything. Ten minutes in, we had already discussed her two-week fling with a Thai mafioso over tereré and Frutigrans, before the conversations shifted to the benefits (and challenges) of dating Argentines.
Of her Argentine boyfriend, she said, “We’re both Aries, very headstrong, so sometimes we fight, but mostly about cultural things. Argentines use more direct speech with their loved ones than Americans do, like not phrasing things as questions but instead using mandatos. It can be a jarring cultural difference for Argie-American couples to work through.”
I couldn’t help but interject a “me too!” because this happens to me all the time. We proceeded to exchange stories, like the time her boyfriend told her to “pass the water.” She said, “Excuse me? Do you want to say ‘please’?” to which her boyfriend responded, “Do you know what por favor means? As a favor! This is too small to be a favor!”
Kristin moved to Buenos Aires to work on a masters degree. “It was more of an excuse than anything,” she said. She loves travelling and wants to live on each continent for at least a year, “except Antarctica, of course.” And she’s making good progress – she grew up in New York, studied abroad in Spain, moved to Thailand after graduating, and is now here. Next up, South Africa.
She says she likes the expat community because everyone helps each other out. But it can be hard because “it’s so transient.”
As we talked, she finished up my nails. She likes to think of each nail as a little work of art. Sometimes she takes a second to think or looks at them from a bit of a distance before starting.
“The fun part,” she said, “is talking to people about them. Surprisingly, a lot of guys will come up to you and ask about your nails, and it’s funny because everyone has a favorite.”
Before I knew it, we were done. Almost immediately, I tried to use my hands to emphasize a point and hit my nails against the dryer like a total klutz, but Kristin coolly touched them up. “Don’t worry,” she said, “everyone does it.” Miraculously, they looked as good as new.
I left with great nails, of course, but also feeling like I had a new friend and confidant. It became clear throughout our conversation that Kristin loves making connections and bringing people together. Actually, she said, it can become kind of a problem. “I want all my clients to be my friends!”
Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon, and for now, I have my nails. According to her, they should last anywhere from ten days to two weeks, and I am doing all I can to make sure they stay as long as possible. I waited an extra hour before touching any zippers, pockets, or purse insides, for example, and this morning, I made my boyfriend wash the dishes. (Thanks boo.) So far so good!
NailMe BAires is now open for business in its new studio location in Las Cañitas. Nails like mine cost $70ARS but other styles are anywhere from $25 – $70ARS. Check out the website for more information.
Special Deal! NailMe BAires is giving all MyBeautifulAir readers a discount! Mention this article when booking an appointment, and get your second manicure at 50% off! (This can also be used immediately if you go with a friend!)