Kassie Payne, 34, paints elaborate, pop-culture-inspired designs onto press-on nails – and says it can take her 45 hours to complete one full set.
From Disney princesses, to Where’s Wally? scenes and James Cameron’s Avatar, Kassie paints tiny, intricate pieces of art onto the individual nails – which can sometimes be as small as just 2cm wide.
Now, what started as a hobby is earning her up to £1,500 a week.
Kassie says: ‘I’m best known for my magic colour-changing nails – I did a Snow White set where the mirror reveals a face when heat is applied.
‘I’ve had worldwide orders – a full set including four portraits would cost £900 and would take about 45 hours.
‘I say that I’m not selling nails I’m selling art you can wear on your nails – that’s the big difference.’
Kassie, a mum-of-one, says she’s always loved art, but she had to put it to the side when she got pregnant at 17.
It wasn’t until lockdown in December 2020 that she picked up the brushes again and drew a small portrait of the Little Mermaid on a nail, and realised she had a flair for it.
Kassie now gets custom orders from all over the world, and regularly shares her designs on TikTok under the handle @nailzbykass.
Kassie said: ‘I always was good at art growing up – my whole life I’ve been good at it and I did art at college.
‘I had a child young – I was 17 when I fell pregnant and completely forgot I was good at art, my whole life changed to look after him.
‘I had to do jobs that I didn’t really enjoy just to get by – I’d forgotten I could even paint.
‘Then I started doing my own nails and got good, and then I started painting pictures onto my nails.’
Kassie’s favourite set to date has been some Sleeping Beauty nails.
‘The lady who bought them took them all around Disneyland Paris and made a video,’ says Kassie.
‘She had the nails in front of the castle and all the little scenes, but I do hate when people buy them because I have to let them go.’
She also says her designs have been good for her wellbeing.
‘It’s made me feel so much happier and helped my mental health as well,’ she says. ‘It never feels like I’m working, I’m just doing my hobby every single day and getting paid for it.
‘I absolutely love it and am never going to stop doing, it ever.’
The mum-of-one says “98% of people” are supportive of her business, but she still has some critics – who, she says, don’t realise the effort she has gone to.
Kassie also sells specialist brushes and hosts TikTok Live sessions. She’s even launched a range of paintbrushes so DIY nail artists can replicate her signature fine detailed work.
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