rebecca paints nails

Self-taught artist creates glamorous nail art in her Toronto studio

Rebeccca Ramsdale, a content creator known for her fashion-forward outfits and collaborations with local brands, has always loved an artistic nail.

Her bold and confident style, often accentuated by a rotation of cool haircuts and fun nail details, has been featured in fashion publications S/Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Nylon Japan.

In fact, she used to spend upwards of eight hours designing her own nail art inspired by runway shows before taking the blueprints to her local salon to have the technicians execute her vision.

Just before the pandemic hit, the salon actually hired Ramsdale to do design work for them, even though she had no knowledge of doing nails at the time.

When the salon shut down, Ramsdale began teaching herself to execute her own art at home with regular polish. 

The nail technician she'd been working with advised her to order herself some gel to make the process easier. Eventually, she was doing not just her own nails, but all her friends' nails, too — and a business opportunity occurred to her. 

In September of 2020, Ramsdale launched Rebecca Paints Nails and began designing custom, made-to-order press-on nails. All the while, she continued working her day job as the district manager of Toronto clothing company Muttonhead.

Ramsdale's press-on nails could have easily been the final destination of her nail art journey since she didn't have plans to further the business, but another opportunity presented itself. 

On a neighborhood walk, Ramsdale ran into a friend who had recently purchased a house with commercial space in it. Since he was waiting on renovations to finish, he offered her the space at an affordable rental cost so that she could open a small nail studio. 

In August of 2021, she officially opened the first Rebecca Paints Nails space and began accepting clients in person. The following spring, she quit her job at Muttonhead after a six-and-a-half-year run to tend to her business full-time. 

She's since moved out of that space into her own private studio and that's where she remains today. The location of the small private studio in Roncesvalles is given to clients when they complete a booking through, but you should know that the slots fill up fast. Ramsdale opens her availability once a month, and regular customers are quick to schedule themselves in. 

Ramsdale offers three tiers of nail service, determined by the base polish and the degree of art. Bases include basic Gel, BIAB (builder in a bottle), Gel X nail extensions, and Hard Gel (sculpted nail extensions). Ramsdale dedicates anywhere between two and five hours to nail art, depending on the selected tier. 

She says the planning is very collaborative. Her clients will share what vibe they're aiming for, or will send examples of sets they like. Then Ramsdale will draw up a design on her iPad and go back and forth with the client until they've nailed the perfect design. 

If you'd prefer to leave the artwork up to her expertise, Ramsdale also offers mystery manicures. She creates the design, which is charged as a tier two with the time allotment of tier three. "It's just more bang for your buck!" she says. 

While you're taking advantage of different booking options, you'll also notice that you can select a "silent service." In this case, Ramsdale welcomes you to put headphones on during your session so you can relax and watch a movie, listen to music, or enjoy a podcast. 

Not many nail salons offer this much attention to detail. "[Planning the designs] ahead of time allows for a lot more creativity," Ramsdale adds.

Her favourite nail trends right now include 3D work and lots of chrome. "I like the nails to be loud and fun. And I definitely have a clientele that reflects that," she says. 

If you want your nails to stand out, then this is the place for you. "All my [clients] are pretty wild," says Ramsdale. It's a character trait she happily shares with them. 

Lead photo by

Emma Johnston-Wheeler

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