What do you get when you add a passion for nails to an obsession with anime and Disney? The answer is simple: Chiharu Taji.
Now thriving as a nail technician at Glam Nail Studio, owned by fellow grad Keiko Matsui, Chiharu knew that she was destined to work within the beauty realm from a young age. “I just knew I wanted to do it,” she explained. Growing up, “a lot of the adults around me would say, ‘oh, you would be good at it; you have the techniques.’ It helped me build my confidence.”
“I was always interested in the beauty industry, but I wasn’t too sure where to start.”
The challenge for Chiharu was finding the right path. “I was always interested in the beauty industry, but I wasn’t too sure where to start, so I started with hair.” While pursuing hair training, Chiharu happened to take a short course in nails and esthetics. It was here she discovered her natural gift for nails. “[My hair instructor] had a feeling about it when she was looking over my nail techniques,” Chiharu revealed. “She suggested that I might be interested in doing acrylic and hard gel.”
“My favourite parts (about working with nails) are more technical. That's why I went to Blanche Macdonald... We practiced a lot of painting French style nail tips and sculpting, which was very challenging for me at first.”
With her curiosity piqued and her love for nails beginning to take shape, Chiharu went looking for the right education. “With the other course, it was just plain, basic. My favourite parts are more technical. That’s why I went to Blanche Macdonald.” While enrolled, Chiharu picked up the techniques that intrigued her. “We practiced a lot of painting French style nail tips and sculpting, which was very challenging for me at first.” But, with dedication and proper guidance, it wasn’t long before Chiharu mastered these techniques.
“One of the most amazing parts of being Christy's student was learning the history of nails! I was able to learn how to create the type of nails that were trending when nails started to become popular.”
The Nail Studio program also allowed Chiharu to make meaningful connections. “There were people interested in nail art. Blanche introduced me to more local nail salons… people like Keiko!” Another impactful connection was the one Chiharu forged with Instructor Christy Denton. “One of the most amazing parts of being Christy’s student was learning the history of nails! I was able to learn how to create the type of nails that were trending when nails started to become popular.” Chiharu recollects.
After graduating from Blanche Macdonald was armed with a set of new skills. Next, she had to find her niche. Luckily, it wasn’t long until she found her inspiration in conversation with a friend; “we were talking about how we can be more creative and, [partly] because I’m Japanese Canadian, he was like ‘you can introduce anime'” she explained. “I wanted to try something new that I don’t really see in Vancouver. There aren’t many people that do anime nails, especially hand-drawn.”
Though she didn’t initially have much experience painting, Chiharu was determined to learn. “I started drawing when I started nails. I hadn’t done hand-painting before, so I wasn’t too sure, but I gave it a go.” This gamble paid off in spades. Chiharu’s now spending her days creating intricate hand-painted designs, inspired by her beloved anime and Disney.
Naturally, her advice to fledging nail artists is to follow what you love; “As soon as you find the type of art you’re interested in, building up the skills will become easier.”