Life is Good with Celebrity Nail Artist, Steph Stone


Photography by Vijat Mohindra


“I work in a fancy world but I wouldn't consider myself fancy. Life is good.”

Photography: Vijat Mohindra

Makeup: Denika Bedrossian

Hair: Eddie Cook

What do Miley Cyrus, Kelly Rowland, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Khloe Kardashian have in common? Steph Stone right at their fingertips. The enchanting LA-based nail stylist let's us in on losing magic at Disneyland and finding love in the City of Angels.

Isis Nicole: What was your first screen name?

Steph Stone: My first screen name on AIM was "icandotheroboc0p" - inspired by "The Frug" a song by Rilo Kiley. 

IN: How do you feel about selfies? 

SS: When people post selfies it makes me feel like I'm socially allowed to post them too which makes me happy. [Laughs] The only thing that gets me is when people post serious quotes under their selfies. I used to take myself that seriously and I just can't any more, it's funny to me.

IN: Do you happen to have a favorite dating app? I actually met my boyfriend on Tinder. 

SS: I have been married for five years so I'm definitely missing out on the dating app era! It sounds fun though, and incredibly interesting. 

IN: I had Tinder for five or six months, and he was my first match. I like to think that we could be the next Rom-computer love movie for sure. What's your favorite romance movie or novel? 

SS: I am not a hopeless romantic so I don't watch very many movies or read romance novels because of that. I just can't get into them, romance movies or romantic comedies. [Those movies] don't make me feel good. I just feel silly and cheesy. 

IN: But if you had to choose?

SS: I strongly relate to the relationship between Richie and Margot Tenenbaum in the The Royal Tenenbaums.  Not in a literal way that I'm in love with an adopted sibling, but just that feeling of being in love with someone who is completely unattainable and "wrong" for you. 

IN: What was your love life like before? 

SS: Before getting married I would pick someone who I knew I would never get the courage to talk to and just idealize them and secretly be in love with them. No one should ever be that way. You should always share you're feelings. You'll regret it your whole life if you don't. [Truth is] it might work out or it might not, but it definitely won't happen if you don't open up. 

IN: I'm working on opening up, not only in regards to intimacy, but also in everyday life. I want to carry myself in my most honest-to-God form possible, which at the core, is good-natured and kindhearted. What do people notice first about you?

SS: Probably my demeanor. I'm friendly but shy, so I tend to be on the quiet side. 

IN: What do notice first about others?

SS: The first thing I notice is the energy surrounding someone. It sounds silly but I'm really good at reading people and their moods. I try to use that to guide my interactions with them and figure out how I can make them the most comfortable with me. 

IN: Establishing comfort is paramount, even within the nail art community. What do you love most about being a nail artist?

SS: I feel so lucky every day of my life. I love my job and all of the people I get to work with. Every single day on set is different and I am the kind of person who needs that. I have never been great with a routine. I am so thankful that I get to have a career that requires creativity. I also love seeing the bigger picture come together. When I see a campaign or cover that I got to work on come out, I'm just like "I can't believe I got to be a part of that team with all those other amazing talents."

IN: That's the feeling I aspire to have everyday. When did you fall in love with nails and colours?

SS: Painting and drawing have always been my thing even though I was never amazing at any of those things. I [just] had a need to do it. Growing up my family and friends would tell me I was great at "art" but I knew it was always pretty mediocre. My skill didn't matter though and I would do it anyway, because you know when you just need to create. With nails, it wasn't love at first polish because I've never really been a girls girl if that makes sense. I've always been a bit of a tomboy. 

IN: Yet somehow things turned out… 

SS: Once I realized that nail art could fulfill that need to create and become a career. I was sold. I just feel really lucky.

IN: Did you ever have to go through a lot of jobs that you hated before you landed a career that you love?

SS: I never imagined that I could have a career I love this much. Yes, I've done a lot of other work before finding the right fit. I used to work at Disneyland. I love Disneyland but working there was awful because you lose the magic. I've been a personal assistant which is crazy because you essentially don't have your own life. It's almost like being a mom. When I first started doing nails, I was trying to make on set work my priority but when you're new, it's not nearly stable enough to support you, yet you have to be fully available if a last minute shoot comes up. 

IN: How did you survive?

SS: I would keep my days available and go into a photo studio at night after it had closed and clean it up for extra cash. This industry isn't easy. I've scrubbed toilets and done a ton of bitch work to be able to do what I do [now]. I knew what I wanted and it's all worth it if you can see your goals coming to life in the end. 

IN: And this is only the beginning!

SS: [Absolutely.] I still want more for my career and I have a lot more I want to achieve. This isn't the end result for me, I still have a lot of hard work to go.

IN: How did your love for Erin Jeen, founder of Shop Jeen, come about?

SS: [Laughs] I guess my love for Shop Jeen is that obvious, huh! It's funny, Erin and I became e-friends last year, but I hope we can meet in person someday soon! I die for everything they carry in their store. The whole Shop Jeen vibe is very me right now. 

IN: Definitely. It's very cyber-girl-irl.

SS: I think it fits into the whole Tumblr kind of culture that I am obsessed with. I am very weird and I love weird things. I work in a fancy world but I wouldn't consider myself fancy. I like when fashion can be fun and strange. I think that Erin and Shop Jeen make it easy for girls to find their quirky style in one place. Shop Jeen is also very nostalgic, which I love, carrying stuff like Lisa Frank journals and Windows 95 all over print backpacks. It's weird but when I see stuff like that I feel some sort of connection and I'm just like, 'I want that because it reminds me of when I was five', even though I'm supposed to be an adult now!


Originally published in IN #3, Spring 2015