With a beaming smile and blue and purple strands of hair framing her face, Sigourney Nuñez is unsurprisingly as bright and colorful as the nail art she’s become known for designing. Nuñez, 28, was recently named North America education manager for OPI, the nail polish brand headquartered in Calabasas, California. Like the title implies, her role is to educate nail professionals but before she was a teacher, she started out a student, indulging in her newfound passion for nail design after a chance encounter.
Nuñez started out in journalism after graduating from California State University Northridge in 2011 and training with New York Times editors through the Student Journalism Institute. She bounced around various publications including the Ventura County Star, Telemundo, and the Los Angeles Daily News, but was unable to find full-time work. In between freelance gigs, she started her own blog, BySig.com, in 2013 after an E! Segment piqued her interest. Soon, she began promoting her DIY nail art on her nail-focused Instagram account @nailartbysig, which has since grown to more than 34k followers.
“I was literally sitting on my couch watching E! news cover a segment about party nail art looks. I did a little deeper dive at the #nailart hashtag on Instagram and that’s when I learned that there is an entire nail community. Not only was nail art a thing, there was an entire online blogger community and I made a choice to be a part of it.”
In order to pay the bills she took on a full-time job with the nonprofit, Mi Familia Vota, while still regularly creating content for her blog. She eventually started contributing to SalonFanatic.com, a sister publication to NAILS magazine.
“That gig gave me access to the professional nail industry and I never turned back.”
By 2014 she was working as an assistant editor at NAILS magazine and within a year she was promoted to associate editor. Nuñez decided to go to nail school at Advance Beauty College in Garden Grove, California in order to gain an even deeper understanding of the world in which she had immersed herself. So, she managed a 40-hour work week along with 20 hours of nail school a week, all with a 48-mile commute from her apartment.
“I chose [it] because of the school’s inspiring heritage and they offered a 600-hour nail-only program that is hard to come across. Most beauty schools either focus on how to pass the state board exam without properly training techs how to do nails in the real world.”By January she was a licensed manicurist and took it a step further by working Saturdays at the House of Polish in Beverly Hills. As her credibility and experience grew, she eventually became digital content manager at NAILPRO magazine in December 2016. She increased web traffic, grew their Instagram following and managed digital marketing campaigns successfully — but her passion for nail design drew her back to the artistry.
Last year, she got to be the first assistant for nail artist Miss Pop at the Moschino fashion show.
“As a nail artist, I work with a lot of rhinestones and glitter, but nothing shines brighter than Sigourney Nuñez! She is so passionate and positive she radiates. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ms. Nuñez and her talent knows no bounds. She is dedicated, strategic, creative, and absolutely fabulous! No matter the job or the call time, she shows up ready and dressed to the nines. It’s no wonder [she] is a rising star in the beauty industry. I feel lucky to have gotten the chance to work with her.”
Since she started working for Coty, home to OPI and other beauty brands including Wella, she’s fully immersed herself in the industry.
“The passion that ultimately fuels me is nails, so I decided to leave publishing to work for a brand so that I can make a different kind of impact on the nail industry.”
Throughout her career trajectory, her background (Mexican and Guatemalan) has only been a positive she says. Working with brands with a predominantly Latino consumer base gave her the opportunity to put her bilingual skills to work on campaigns or content like Facebook Live sessions in Spanish. But it goes a little deeper in how it has influenced her overall work ethic:
“The tenacity that drives me was instilled in me by my hard working immigrant parents. They sacrificed a lot for me to pursue my dreams.”
Along with her parents support, she also regularly receives DMs on Instagram from fellow Latinas whose feedback motivates her to keep “pushing forward, especially now that I am working in such a corporate environment where diversity is imperative.”
When Nuñez looks back on the journey that has taken so far, she’s humbled by the results of years of dedication and focus it took.
“Education does not end when you get your license. Continue to take classes from your favorite manufacturers or influencers as you build your craft and clientele. Find a mentor or nail friend you can lean on because let’s face it, when women support each other, magic happens.”