The ‘Bodak Yellow’ rapper goes home to The Bronx to get her nails done. How the neighborhood salon became world famous with her
The smell of acrylic greets guests as they ascend up the stairs to Nails on 7th in the Bronx — a luxe loft decked in silver chandeliers, Chanel logo-shaped LED lights and a portrait of Marilyn Monroe. And tucked away in a corner of the polish palace is owner Jenny Bui’s private office filled with rhinestone furniture, bottles of Grey Goose and Moet and cases of Swarovski crystals. This is where female rapper Cardi B gets her nails done once a month.
“She loves bling,” Bui, Cardi’s go-to manicurist, tells Moneyish.
Cardi B, the 25-year-old stripper-turned rapper and social media personality known for her unfiltered candor and razor sharp nails – as seen in her new music video “Finesse” with Bruno Mars – has a lot of pride for the South Bronx. And when she hit it big — she became the first female rapper to top Billboard’s Hot 100 list in nearly 19 years with her debut single “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” — she made Bui world famous too, giving the business owner free advertising on her Insta where she has more than 16 million followers.
The first time Cardi, born Belcalis Almanzar, came to the salon was five years ago when she was working at Sue’s Rendezvous in Mount Vernon, New York. Bui always knew by Cardi’s no-filter personality that she would be a star.
“I said ‘Cardi, you’re going to be really big.’ She said, ‘You think so Jenny?’ I said, ‘Yeah. You’re going to be really big. I think you’re going to forget about me.’ She said, ‘Never,’” Bui recalls.
To give Cardi her signature long, pointed acrylic nails, Bui paints on her “secret nail gel,” which holds together mounds of Swarovski crystals, technicolor gems and jewels she gets from special vendors. Cardi’s manicures are typically adorned with around 500 crystals glued on, so one manicure can take up to two hours. (Bui says the nail art lasts a month.) There’s so much bling her clients typically opt out of wearing jewelry. Sometimes Cardi will request pictures of cupcakes or cartoon images so Bui prints them out and glues them onto her her nails.
Pricing varies, depending on the length of a client’s nails and the style. The hottest request is coffin and stiletto shaped nails, with a full set of acrylic nails costing anywhere from $25 to upwards of $100, depending on the amount of bling.
“Everybody asks me, ‘what is your secret?’ My secret is gel and the stones,” she says.
When Cardi comes into the nail salon fans bombard her for selfies at the pedicure station. And Bui says she never says no. “She’s so real. That’s why I love her so much,” says Bui. “She takes pictures with everyone.”
Bui books business on her Instagram page, @NailsOn7th, where she features videos of her bedazzled, chrome-colored manicures. Clients make appointments by requesting a date and time via direct message.
“I have a lot of bling,” Bui assures.
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