Meet Chanel’s Skater Dude Manicurist
Suppose you’re a struggling graphic designer who custom paints racecar helmets, hockey masks and skateboards for friends in Southern California. An extreme sports fanatic, you spend a lot of time racing jet skies. Then your wife gets pregnant with your first child (first of three), as the early Nineties recession is sinking in. What do you do?
For Tom Bachik, the logical next step was… beauty school?
“My cousin was going to school to learn how to cut hair and he suggested I try that industry too,” Bachik remembers. His cousin clued him into the fact that when times get tough economically, parts of the beauty industry thrive. Although it seemed like a big leap to Bachik, it was really just a matter of changing his canvas. Within days he enrolled in beauty school and three months later he had his manicurist license.
He hit the beauty trade shows and entered hair, makeup, and nail competitions. Within a year of graduation, Bachik won the world championship of nails. He become the preferred manicurist of Gwen Stefani, Scarlett Johansson and Victoria Beckham. His skill for airbrushing skateboards had translated into airbrushing nails. Creative Nails, then a professional nail division of Revlon, hired him to develop their acrylic business, teach in their schools and develop colors in their lab.
Eventually Bachik became the creative director of Creative Nail Design, and found an agent, thanks to celebrity makeup artist Francesca Tolot. He started booking celebrity shoots and soon, people were raving about the “man-icurist.”
His timing was perfect: nail fashion was taking off. Chanel was ramping up their nail color business with colors mixed backstage at fashion shows. Vamp, a deep red from 1994, had become an instant hit and other edgy colors would follow.
Bachik began working with Chanel makeup artists on shoots. That’s where he discovered the brand’s funky nail colors. It was 2003, right around the time that Chanel hired makeup artist Peter Phillips and began to expand their nail color business. Taking a cue from the success of Vamp, Phillips introduced experimental colors like the mushroom grey Particuliere and the purple grey Paradoxical. When Chanel noticed their offbeat colors on celebrities like Hilary Swank and Jennifer Lopez they traced the connection back to Bachik, and hired him as their first celebrity nail spokesperson.
It was a good move. Nail color sales at Chanel shot up 69.9% last year, boosted by the Khaki range, and the company dominates the prestige nail color business with 62% market share, according to NPD market data. The attitude toward nail color has changed dramatically too, thanks in part to Bachik’s work.
“Nails have become a fashion accessory,” he says. “But more than that, you can change your color to match your mood.”
For spring, Bachik’s mood is upbeat—in the way only a Southern California surfer could be. For Chanel he’s grooving on the colors inspired by pearls, St. Tropez, and the lush gardens of SoCal—shades like Black Pearl, Mimosa, and Morning Rose, a citrusy pink. There’s also a new beige and several other renditions of pearl, including Pearl Drop and Pêche Nacrée.
As for the skateboard and surfboard airbrushing business, he still paints them, when he isn’t winging around the world to celebrity shoots, and he saves his best designs for his kids.
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