As the founder of Fuego Nails, a nail brand known for its elaborate, decadent and ultimately fierce acrylic designs, Natasha Blake knows a thing or two about beauty as armour. Building up a core clientele of nail lovers, she’s created a space where empowerment is the name of the game, giving everyone who comes to see her a safe space to talk and crafting dream-worthy talons for their fingers which might reference anything from crystals to Catholicism.
Based in London but with Spanish, Greek-Cypriot and New Zealander roots, Blake’s cultural references are a wide-ranging melting pot: one of the many things which her designs so unique. Exclusively for HUNGER, she delves into the inspirations powering her work, ranging across women to wellbeing, and debuts ‘Women With Weapons’, a new fashion and beauty story which introduces a range of female vigilante characters and is inspired by her #WomenWithWeaponsWednesday weekly Instagram feature.
I’d say the main aesthetic of my brand would be female empowerment. I’ve always been inspired by feminine strength mainly because of the women I grew up around. My aunties and cousins always taught me the most valuable life lessons that I still hold with me now. I get inspired by strong female leads in films and especially roles that would usually be designed for men, which started my Women With Weapons Wednesday hashtag on Instagram and ultimately led me to create my own series. I think women are remarkable, and I’m still inspired every day through the clients I meet and their stories.
I’ve always been fascinated by how a good film can instantly transport you into another world. They’re so magical like that. I started to get inspired by the films that influence my brand at a young age, I think I first watched Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado when I was 13 and fell in love with it; that whole trilogy is just pure art. That love led on to many other cult classics like Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade, Resident Evil, The Matrix… I guess there’s a theme running: anything badass with weaponry and strong female characters.
I’ve met such wonderful people through my work and I’m so blessed to have such an amazing client base. Their support and love for what I do really means the world. My favourite part of an appointment is straight after I apply the extensions, their energy instantly shifts and they become fierce and start talking with their hands – I love to see it. And of course seeing them smiling down at their nails after the appointment is the best feeling.
This is a really important aspect of my work. Not just the well-being of my clients but also myself. I sometimes struggle with my mental health and being able to put all my love and energy into my own makings really strengthens my mind, it motivates me on a level I’ve never experienced before. My clients make a difference too, there’s been times after a breakup or even just a crappy day that they’ve unknowingly cheered me up or given great advice. Nail appointments can serve as mini therapy sessions for both parties – there’s a reason we’re called beauty therapists and it’s important to feel comfortable with your technician as it’s an intimate service. A lot of people come to me as a treat or after a rough day or week to cheer themselves up, and I’m happy to serve!
Catholicism and spirituality
I grew up in a large Catholic family and went to Catholic school so religion has been quite heavily embodied in my psyche. This was until I went to college at around 17 and studied philosophy for A Levels. I remember the exact moment where I had an actual epiphany. The concept of God being an all-seeing, human-like form – and specifically male – was always so foreign to me and philosophy really opened my eyes to the beliefs that I knew I had deep down, [but which were] maybe too oppressed to come to the surface.
I realised “God” was in everything, was me and you and the Earth, a feeling rather than an idol to be worshipped. I stopped going to church and started on my spiritual journey which led me to some crazy states of mind. I feel like religion is for people who are scared to go to hell and spirituality is for the people that have already been there. It’s really inspired me with the art I create, a lot of my clients are spiritual healers, priestesses, or just people generally interested in the subject. I’ve recently started to use crystals on nails which has been super popular. I think Catholicism is still heavily ingrained in my persona, which is why I use it so much in my work; plus it’s not all bad, and the churches and iconography are really beautiful.