Velma Smith has her art nailed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

Velma Jean Smith defies anyone to come up with a better advertising gimmick than she carries around. Her fingernails, or as she spells it, &uot;nailz,&uot; are almost a full four-inches long and so highly painted they are shocking.

Smith says her nails don’t keep her from doing anything people with &uot;normal&uot; nail do: Typing, keeping house, washing dishes and the like.

&uot;They just don’t slow me down,&uot; she insisted.

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Smith’s love of nail design began in 1987 when she worked with the civil service in Japan. While there, her spare time was spent with an Asian friend who was a nail artist.

Nail design intrigued Smith, prompting her to begin learning the fascinating art. She began attending a school that taught manicures and nail design, completing the course with 350 hours of practice.

From that point, she began cosmetology training, finishing up the courses by logging 1,500 hours hands-on experience. She is a licensed cosmetologist/nail tech in New Jersey and Virginia.

&uot;I love to see the different designs on the nails, and I started out doing them on the nails of friends and family,&uot; said Smith. &uot;And after coming home to Suffolk, I mastered the nail instructor test, qualifying me as licensed to serve as an instructor to others.&uot;

Once she arrived in Suffolk, Smith began plans to open her own nail salon and a school to train other nail technicians.

Nice & Neat Nailz, located in Washington Square Mall on West Washington Street, is holding its grand opening on Feb. 14.

&uot;I’m opening on Valentine’s Day because I just love doing nails and I think that’s an appropriate day to tell the world that I’m here and ready to start glamorizing the nails of Suffolk’s men as well as women,&uot; said Smith.

She is waiting a few months before opening the nail school.

&uot;It will be called JaVel’s Exquisite School of Nailz. That name was chosen because it’s my daughter’s (middle) name,&uot; said Smith. &uot;The trade name for the business is &uot;JES-Nailz Divas Just Do It,&uot; and I expect to open this part of my business soon.&uot;

Smith stressed her Nice & Neat Nailz will serve both men and women.

&uot;The men come in for manicures and pedicures, and if they should be interested in nail design then we can certainly accommodate them,&uot; Smith said. &uot;With the trends constantly changing, we expect that someday soon the men will want nail design also. I want to be on the cutting edge of it all!&uot;

This particular diva should have no problem convincing anyone that she’s on the cutting edge. Well… maybe not! Her nails look as if she’s never cut them.

&uot;It took me almost four years to get them this long,&uot; said Smith, preening one of the nails. &uot;I keep an acrylic coating over top of them to prevent breakage and protect them. I find that when I do get a hairline crack, they can be mended with fibers and wrap. I keep them this long to prove to people that I am truly a specialist when it comes to maintaining nails and they serve as an excellent tool of advertising.&uot;

Smith not only has the longest nails in the city, well she’s almost certain of that, but she also believes they are also the most elaborately painted.

&uot;I have a picture of my daughter on one, my Spiegel charge card on another, cash money on one and my initials, VJ, on one,&uot; said Smith. &uot;Also, I have Mickey Mouse with a diamond on his nose, and a Mercedes Benz emblem with a diamond on it. My name Vee-Jay also is there, highlighted with a diamond and my business card of course.&uot;

Smith added that she’s constantly &uot;messing with&uot; her nails, continuously adding to them to draw attention.

&uot;They are constantly growing and as long as they grow, I will add designs to them,&uot; said Smith. &uot;I have a great deal of fun with this and I would love for anyone who wants beautiful nails to come see me at the Mall. For those with nails not quite as long as mine, I do have less elaborate designs and we can even do just a manicure and regular nail painting. The point is, we ‘Jes’ do it!&uot;

With nails to this extreme, Smith said she could still do most anything that someone with short nails can do. She even types!

&uot;I don’t type 60 words a minute, but by golly I get the job done,&uot; said Smith. &uot;I just completed a term paper for my son. I had to peck and peck all night long, but Nailz Divas ‘Jes’ do it!&uot;

Smith’s talent is obvious and she’s often complimented on her skills as a nail tech. However, she’s quick to note that her talent is a God-given gift.

&uot;I want to give all the glory for my success to God,&uot; said Smith. &uot;With His help and His leading, I have been successful in all that I have tried to do.

&uot;Of course, I also owe my husband, Calvin, a great deal for his support and love.

&uot;As for our God, I expect to remain faithful and continue to be His servant, so if you stop by my place of business, be prepared to hear of God’s mercy and glory.&uot;

Name? Velma Jean &uot;Vee-Jay&uot; Smith

Age? 36

Hometown? Suffolk

Family? Husband, Calvin; and three children: Paul, 14; Khaleed, 11; and Caleisia, 4.

Career/occupation? Licensed nail technician and cosmetologist who will be opening her own salon, Nice & Neat Nailz, on Feb. 14.

Volunteer activities? Volunteer for the STOP organization and at the Goodwill Store in Churchland.

Favorite thing about life in Suffolk? Being able to be my own entrepreneur and open my shop. Basically, I’m starting to live out my dream.

Why did you pursue your chosen career? Nails fascinate me!

Favorite thing about your job? Seeing the completed work because everything comes out of my head.

Least favorite thing about your job? Nothing! I love all that I do!

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Obtaining most of my licenses.

Who or what motivates and inspires you? God and my husband, Calvin. He’s my right hand.

Favorite way to spend free time? Enjoying my family.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? &uot;Don’t make excuses – ‘Jes’ do it!&uot;