Kawaii Klaws

By Stella Haffner   |   September 12, 2023
Lauryn Rousseau started her nail art studio Kawaii Klaws during COVID

In the Dear Montecito column, we have hosted writers, musicians, and filmmakers. This week, we are branching into a new medium with Lauryn Rousseau, a 2021 graduate of UCSB and the owner of Kawaii Klaws, a boutique nail art studio. 

Q. How did you get interested in nail art?

A. My cousin was really into Japanese fashion when we were little, so she used to give me her old Japanese magazines. They just had the most ornate fashion, including nails, like nothing we had ever really seen before in American culture. I was hooked. So throughout 9th and 10th grade my best friend and I would stay up for hours, decking out our nails, attaching random household things like paper clips just so we would be able to copy these crazy examples in the magazines and music videos.

What was it you liked so much about this style?

I think it was just because it was so extra and crazy. I feel like I’ve never really fit into a box or been normal. My friends and my family are always asking me: “Why do you always have to do the most?” And I’m like: “I don’t know, maybe it’s the Leo in me!”

Tell me about your business – it started during COVID?

Lauryn’s ornate nail designs are inspired by Japanese pop culture

Yes, I started Kawaii Klaws in the fall of 2020. Because so many salons were closed, I took the opportunity to start making press-on nails that people could order online. Personally, I have never really gone to salons for gel manicures, they were just too expensive for me growing up, so I thought – hey, if there is a YouTube tutorial, I can do it! So that’s how I got started doing nails in person. I made an Instagram page for the business and it kind of took off.

As a nail artist, how would you describe the nail art culture?

I think it is very experimental. It’s really new and it is probably in the past year or two that a lot of celebrities are getting into it and people are venturing out more. I would say the culture is very fun and experimental but only if you allow it. A lot of people say they could never do it. But it’s temporary and you only live once!

What sort of styles seem to be popular right now?

What’s really popular is an early ‘90s and 2000s look that’s making a comeback. They are using stencils and airbrush to create something called an aura where you spray the nail and it kind of looks like it is blooming outwards. That’s really popular right now. Of course, French nails are timeless, but people are really elevating them now through different colors and designs, you know, mix and match. I would also say that charms, 3D charms, are really popular. Anything to bling it out and make it a little bit more ornate.

Is there anything else people should know about nail art?

I just really try to push for people to try it because as I said, it’s temporary, you only live once, and I feel like that a great way to express yourself is through nails.  

If you’re interested in learning more about Lauryn and her art, you can visit her Instagram page @kawaii.klaws


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