When you think of Belcalis Almanzar — better known as Cardi B — it might be her penchant for Christian Louboutin shoes that comes to mind. After all, she has over 90 pairs and has made the term "bloody shoes" a household nickname with this summer's biggest chart-topping hit. But Cardi isn't just extravagant when it comes to her footwear: Her manicures are pretty damn glam, too, thanks to Jenny Bui of Nails on 7th in NYC's Bronx neighborhood.
"I've been doing her nails for five years," Bui, who also has a location in Harlem, tells Refinery29. "The first time she came in, back when she was working as a stripper at Sue's Rendezvous, someone else did them. But the second time, she specifically requested me."
Now, Bui doesn't do just anyone, but she had heard about Cardi's sense of humour and growing social reach, so she took her on as a client. Now, the refuses to let anyone else do the star's nails. "She trusts me, creatively," Bui says, noting that the rapper's normal request is "do whatever you want."
Bui tells us that Cardi liked more playful designs pre-fame, like Hello Kitty or cupcakes, but today they're more subdued. That is, if you consider Swarovski crystal-covered manicures plastered with pictures of Cardi's boyfriend, Offset, chill.
Bui doens't like to talk price, but she did give us a jumping off point. "I will say that they run $80 (£60) and up," she says. As for the amount of crystals, Bui can't really put a number on that, either. "I can never count! There are hundreds and hundreds," she says. "That's how she likes it."
Regarding the Offset mani (peep the IG image below) Jenny printed out images of the Migos rapper on thin photo paper and transferred them onto the nails. Of course, plenty of crystals were involved for that look, too. "The nails can take up to two hours," Bui reveals. "By the time I finish her nails, my whole body is sweating!"
With that much time in the chair, you'd hope that the nails would stay glued on... especially when, uhh, shit gets real. "Yes, they stay — and Cardi is a little clumsy, too," Bui says. She notes that they're easy to clean, too. "It's just like wearing a diamond ring — if it gets dirty, you can clean it."
Thankfully, Jenny's work can last for an entire month, which is perfect for booked and busy Cardi. "You can hardly see it when they grow out," she tells R29, noting that she specifically picks colors, materials, and patterns that make growth less obvious so her hard work lasts for longer.
With all that time in the chair it's no surprise the two have become friends. On her birthday, Cardi posted a video of a gorgeous bouquet that Jenny gifted her. "Your nail lady don't love you the way my nail lady loves me," she posted. "My nail lady is like my freakin' aunt."
The feeling is mutual. "Before [the fame], people said all kinds of things about her," Bui says. "But I've always treated her the same way as all my customers." And after five years of working together? "Now I treat her just like my daughter," Bui says.
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