Byline: Cassandra Chiacchio

NEW YORK — What’s the next step for a manicurist when she has already built up an impressive celebrity clientele and has had her work featured in ads by high profile companies? Start her own line of course.
Bernadette Thompson, who went to school with a young Mary J. Blige as well as rapper DMX in Yonkers, N.Y., has created a comprehensive nail line that includes 21 colors, three treatments and a nail polish remover.
Thompson, whose company is based in Westchester, N.Y., has always been a nail afficionado, even before she became a manicurist. “I’ve always had nails,” she laughed. “And no matter what my hair looks like or even how I’m dressed, I always have a pedicure.”
“I’ve worked in a corporate atmosphere,” she continued. “And even while I was doing the whole nine-to-five thing, I always did nails.”
After taking a nail class for her “hobby,” she wound up opening up her own nail salon where appointments were booked as early as 5 a.m. “Husbands would call looking for their wives,” she remembered. “They couldn’t believe they’d get up that early to get their nails done.”
She broke into the celebrity circle when she did the manicures for one of Sean “Puffy” Comb’s music videos. Thompson now works regularly with stars such as Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim and has done ads for the likes of Hermes and Gucci.
The inspiration for the Bernadette Thompson nail line came from her frustration with many of the lines she was working with. “I was so sick of seeing nail polish that costs $20 and chips the next day,” she explained. “I knew I could create a high-quality line, full of colors that worked on every complexion, every skin tone.”
Her collection features a peach-scented bi-phase nail polish remover, a cuticle oil, a base coat, top coat and a wide spectrum of nail colors, from Skim Milk, a pale cream, to Mardi Gras, a deep metallic purple, to Macktress, an opaque black. The nail polish remover retails for $12, while colors and treatments retail for $15.
For Thompson, whose favorite nail color in the collection is Atlantis, a metallic aqua blue, the line was also a door to creating trends. “I included two textured nail colors in the line, Desert Storm and White Sand,” she said of the polishes that have an almost gritty finish to them. “They’ve been so popular that I already have plans to add four more.”
Aside from the textured look, Thompson points to airbrushing and colored acrylics as nail looks that are gaining momentum. “Nails are an accessory,” she stressed. “Have fun with them.”
Thompson is currently in talks with several retailers about carrying the line, but for now, it is available on her Web site, Bernadettethompson.com. She expects the line to reach first-year retail sales of $1 million. Future plans for the nail diva include a kit in time for the holidays as well as a possible pedicure line.
As busy as she has become with the new line, don’t expect her to stop her editorial work. “I would do that forever,” she said with a smile.