Beauty Idol: Tinu Bello from ColourRiotNails


ColourRiotNails is a nail art company founded by Tinu Bello, a creative and talented nail artist with an impressive portfolio. Tinu has worked behind the scenes at London and New York Fashion Week - which is no mean feat - and is often featured in magazines for her exquisite nail designs which are based on colour, emotions and culture. Tinu took some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into her artistic career. Tell us about your career. How and why did you decide that being a nail artist was the direction you wanted to pursue? Nail art was always something I was interested in from a very young age. My mother was a hairdresser and I remember her painting her clients’ nails after she had finished their hair, and I always fascinated by the colours and how beautiful nail polish made hands look. I also remember my younger sister and I using Tipp-ex to try and create a French manicure.

I have been in the beauty industry for 10 years. As soon as I finished secondary school I went straight to beauty school and trained as a beauty therapist during my year at beauty school. I took a particular interest in nails and that’s where it all started. Upon finishing beauty school I worked in all the well-known nail bars at the time, such as Nails Inc NYNC, Minx Beauty and Beyond in Kensington.

I had celebrity clients where most of them would request nail art such as a French tip in a different colour and so on. This is where I gained my love for nail art and realised that there was far more than just a French tip that could be done on nails. Years later after trying to pursue different career options and having my son I decided that my creative side could no longer be hidden and that nail art was the way forward in terms of my career. This is when I went freelance and created my brand ColourRiotNails.

How did you manage to create and set up your brand? Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted your brand to be? To set up my brand I made use of social networking sites and advertised myself as a session nail artist. I did a lot of free work such as editorial to show my skills in imagery. Through this I gained work through word of mouth and was offered editorial jobs on magazines such as Pro Hair and Beauty, Schon, Tatler, InStyle, Glassbook and more. In addition I have taken part in fashion week in both London and New York; I have done celebrities such as Cara Delevingne and Katherine Jenkins. I must say that without the help and support of family and friends it would not have been as smooth sailing as it was.

To be honest, I had no clear vision. All I had was a love for nail art and all things colourful but I was not really aware of my talent. I realised when working in the industry that nail art was an identity, not so much a trend as it is now. I realised that different identities were drawn to different types of nail art so I decided to create a brand that reflected me and how I feel about nail art and how I wanted people to feel through my nail art, and that was my love for a riot of colours. Nail art was my therapeutic endorphin, my ‘craft in a corner’, my time to think and relax. I noticed while working in the industry that I would always get praised for my ability to match colours depending on a person’s mood, skin tone and personality, and also for my attention to detail and how my nail art was simple and uncomplicated hence how ColourRiotNails came about.

On your road to success did you encounter any setbacks? With anything in life you are bound to have setbacks but as long as you are focused and you know what your plans are then you will realise these setbacks are really blessings in disguise. There a few times where I have invested into things that I thought would make profit or gain brand exposure but instead it was more or less a waste of time. Money was lost but lessons were learnt.

Where do you gain inspiration from- do trends in beauty and fashion inspire you when designing nails? No beauty and fashion play very little part in where I get my inspiration from. My inspiration comes from my feelings and my love for colour. Colours are linked to different emotions and feelings and this is where I draw my inspiration. I also draw my inspiration from my native Nigerian culture where our traditional clothes are colourful with bold patterns.

Do you have any tips or tricks regarding nail care and nail designs? For nail care I always advise to wear a base coat to avoid staining from nail polish and if you are a regular user of nail polish it is advisable to use a protein base coat to help maintain the strength of your nails and prevent staining. To keep nail designs for longer apply a thin layer of base coat sealing free edge every two days.

Can you tell us what your typical day is like? My typical day starts with early call times for editorial shoots. On set you would start by introducing yourself to the team (photographer, make-up artist, and stylist). We would decide on the look of nail by looking mood boards, clothing, story of the shoot etc. I would then start prepping nails. You have approximately 30 minutes to an hour on set to do each nail look. On a day where I’m not on set I am usually working from home, creating nail art menus for upcoming events, contacting my team to see who is available for events, answering emails and enquires from clients wanting a pop up nail bar for their events.

And perhaps what an unusual day might be like? An unusual day would be having three jobs to attend in one day at different locations in London. Or having pop-up nail bars at different locations which is very hectic.

What’s the best, most enjoyable thing about your job as a nail artist? Getting to meet different people from all walks of life every day, being creative, meeting new nail artist who are inspired by your work and the satisfaction I get from customers when they have their nails done.

Where do you see you and your brand in the future? In the future expect to see a ColourRiotNails flagship nail bar in London and other branches in Nigeria, South Africa and Dubai. In the future I will also be business consulting in the beauty industry and helping charities for young people by helping them gain a skill.

Is there anything you can tell us about yourself and your career that would be interesting or helpful to others hoping to enter and succeed in the nail art industry? All I can say is have fun with it, always be willing to learn, remember everyone makes mistakes. Always update yourself on trends, products etc. and have your own identity. Expect to work for free initially. If it is not your passion you will fall behind. Make your passion your priority.

Colour Riot Nails pic 2

You can follow Tinu on Twitter.