Making my way through a storm so bad I close my eyes waiting for my Uber to crash, I finally reach the Lower Ninth Ward for my appointment with Bianca Williams, aka Beedy, who has been creating talons for Missy Elliott for the past five years. Beedy regularly flies to Atlanta from her home in downtown New Orleans, negotiating with airport officials over why it’s vital that she gets her nail polish stash through customs, before fashioning Missy’s nails into embellished ‘ballerinas’ (which for those of you unfamiliar, are a coffin shape with a very slim top). “Missy is big on bling,“ explains Beedy. “It don’t even make sense for you to show up if you don’t have the crystal box.“
Accustomed to square tips and an airbrush, I’m alarmed when she starts to file my nails into a precision sharp point – I recall the intricate crystal work I saw on her Instagram feed and I tell myself that I'm in the hands of a master. “People always think when it comes to nails, you’re just a nail tech,” explains Beedy, “but you’re a counsellor, you’re a therapist, you have to give so much advice.”
Unfettered by my constant reminder that I have a flight to catch, Beedy's laser focus is as startling as the lightning speed with which she applies the crystals, in differing formations, to each of my nails.
Have you always lived here?
I was born and raised in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina hit and I had to move away, I was gone for two and a half years.
Was that because your home was affected?
Yes, it was totally underwater. We stayed in the shelter for like a month, and then relocated to live with family members. I had two daughters at the time so it wasn’t just me I had to deal with. I lost everything. Now, so many survivors have come back and are pushing through. We're resilient. We can bounce back.
Did you enjoy growing up in New Orleans?
Yes, of course. It’s way different now, there’s a lot more gentrification, rental rates are crazy here. The city is more culturally involved now. People from here play more of a part in the culture.
How did you get into nails?
I’m a fully licensed cosmetologist. I used to do hair, but I was involved in a car accident which caused me to not be able to stand up for long periods of time due to lumbar issues. I was always into art, and I can do more art with nails than I can with hair. It helped me pay attention to my artistic nature.
If you’re ’Blessed by Beedy’, what do you get?
Well, you are certainly ‘Blessed by Beedy’ today. You most definitely getting a blessing, because I feel like I put a lot of effort into my artwork. I like people to have a good experience. People always think when it comes to nails, you’re just a nail tech, but you’re a counsellor, you’re a therapist, you have to give so much advice.
That’s a serious stash of crystals. Are they Swarovski?
Yes, all of them. Every shape, colour and size. I’m clearly spending a lot of money on these crystals.
What does everybody want at the moment?
Crystals are the big thing. Jelly, too – the transparent colour ones, but not as many clients are requesting those.
How did you meet Missy?
Her assistant is a good friend of mine and she was coming to get her nails done in New Orleans and travelling back to Atlanta. Missy was like, “why haven’t I got my nails done, when you got your nails done?” She was like, “who is this nail tech, I need her!”. So from then on, when she came down for Essence [a music festival], I did her nails and I’ve been doing them ever since. It's usually a travel situation – I fly to Atlanta. I’m busy prepping for her new video at the moment.
Does she have a regular style that she has done?
Missy is big on bling. It don’t even make sense for you to show up if you don’t have the crystal box.
Is it difficult to get all those crystals through customs?
You know what’s crazy, I have a problem at the airport with polish. They're like “oh no, you have too many!” I say I’m a nail tech, what am I supposed to do? I usually try to have at least 25, all in separate clear bags. For the most part, the people in New Orleans airport know me, so it’s not a big hassle.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I'm into Solange’s new album. I also have an R&B playlist Mood that was up on Apple. I was born in the 80s, so I kind of listen to a lot of the early 90s music while I work.
When are you coming to London?
When somebody says, “Beedy, I got you a flight”, then I’m on my way!