An Expat Life | Kim Nails It


Pink polka dots, leopard print or glitter fade? I can’t make up my mind. Meet Kim Laidlaw, English expat, blogess extraordinaire, and recent razzle dazzler of the Paris manicure. I’m sitting across from her now at the Who’s Next fashion trade show, and she has a catherine-wheel of beautiful options. “Go for the glitter fade”,  she says with a smile. “It’s a versatile one.” What started as a personal passion for Kim has turned into a surprising career path: Parisiennes can’t get enough of her skillful and imaginative designs. So far she’s set up shop at the Wanderlust village, Jack Jumble’s Sale (The House that Jack Built) at Candelaria, and Who’s Next with Nailmatic, as mentioned before.

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It doesn’t take long for me to learn that Kim seems to have already lived many lives before this one, and quite diverse ones at that. Originally, she came to Paris to study at L’Ecole du Louvre during her year abroad. Eventually she returned to London where she worked as an investment banker. She found herself back in Paris and has now called it home for 10 years. Aside from her booming nail business, Kim works as a copywriter, writing and translating English texts for magazines, advertising agencies, etc. and has worked for clients like BBC and lonely planet. She uses her blog Unlock Paris, another fun insider’s guide to Paris, as a platform for her work.

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So how does a former investment banker turned copywriter find herself in high demand as a nail artist, you ask? Kim explains, “It happened quite organically actually.  In London, there are great places to get nail art done and it’s quite successful.  I had no idea where to get it done in Paris, so I thought I’d try it myself.” Little did she know that her self-manicured 10 digits were a “walking” advertisement for her future booming nail business. “People would see the half moons I’d done and think they were stickers, or they’d say, ‘Where did you get that done?’.” After being asked if she was interested in offering nail art at a The House That Jack Built event, Kim decided she didn’t have much to lose and went for it! Despite being unsure of the outcome, Kim ended up fully booked having to turn away clients. The rest is history!

When asking Kim what advice she could give fellow expatriates on how to more easily integrate into French culture. “Get a French boyfriend.”, says Kim.  If I had a euro for every time I heard that…(cringe).  “If you have a job working with French people, that can also help a lot. But I find it’s less social in the office setting as it is in London,” she adds. The overwhelming challenge of French bureaucracy aside, “Once you’re in, you’re in”, Kim assures me.

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Kim’s interests span even further yet, which comes as no surprise.  When speaking about the Paris scene, Kim explains that the Palais de Tokyo is a creative venue she appreciates and goes to most frequently. “Not only is it now the biggest contemporary art space in Europe, but they do such a great job at having a range of young emerging artists and also more established artists of contemporary art”.

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You can find Nails by Kim at the Wanderlust Village every Sunday from 2 – 6pm (closed in August) as well as the electro music festival, The Peacock Society, July 12th and 13th at Park Floral. Kim also does house visits, brides, etc. Don’t hesitate to contact her! Just as she said of The Peacock Festival coming up, “I’m sure it’ll be good fun!”

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