First of all, we would love to get to know you better! Tell us a little bit about you..
• Hey guys! I’m Zoë Adams (but some of you may know me as nails.by.zo_ on insta), I’m 21
years old and I’m currently living in Edinburgh – lol that sounded like some kind of opening
line from Take Me Out
• Doing nails isn’t my job at the minute. I’m currently almost halfway through my post
graduate studies (in Japanese Language) at Keio University (Tokyo, Japan). I was meant to
move to Tokyo for a year back in March of this year, but unfortunately because of COVID
the country isn’t allowing foreigners in (which I guess is understandable) in order to control
their case numbers. The only problem is that my lectures are held live in Japan Standard
Time, so basically I’m living nocturnally at the moment as sometimes my classes start at
1am?! It’s mad, but I’m getting used to it now.
• But back to nails! I never really intended on starting a nail account if I’m honest. When I
graduated from UCL (University College London) last August, I was meant to move straight
to Japan but I decided to defer my university place for 6 months just because the world was
going a bit crazy due to COVID. I then thought to myself, well what am I going to do with
myself from August until March? This was the first time in my life that I was given 6 months
of free time to do whatever I wanted – so I decided to start a nail insta. I really only started
it to just share with my friends and family what I was doing in my spare time
What made you think to start up doing nail designs?
• So a bit of my nail history: I’ve always loved nails – I remember when I was younger I used
to paint my babysitter’s nails every time she came around. As my mums Japanese, I’ve also
been exposed to the crazy world of nails and nail art in Japan since I was young, and I think
that’s actually what got me interested in nails. I remember just staring at peoples nails on
the tube lol and being in awe of these really pretty glittery nails that the girls had on! In
Japan, one colour nails are rarely a thing (they all love nail art) and I remember really clearly
this one time that I saw this girl with the most amazing beach/mermaid themed toes and I
was like wow I need to get into this! I then started to train at a nail school in Tokyo when I
was 16 which I guess was kind of young. It was a birthday present from my mum (10am7pm every day for 3 weeks during my summer holiday – not much of a holiday eh) and I
absolutely loved it – apart from the fact it was all in Japanese and I found learning all the
technical things really hard to understand as my Japanese wasn’t good enough whoops! I
then went on to work at Nails Inc. in Edinburgh during my final year of school for about 9
months. Every summer holiday I’d go back and do another nail course in Toyko. When I
went to uni to do my undergrad, I didn’t have much time to do nails as my university course
was very competitive and demanding, but every now and again I did my friends nails when I
had time. However I never really had time to experiment. It was only really in August when I
moved back home to Edinburgh that I thought, well I might as well give it another go!
What do you love most about being in the nail industry?
• Well when I was at the salon, I just loved the fact that people would come to see me as a
pick me up, or just as a bit of self-care. And then they’d (hopefully) leave satisfied and
happy with the service I provided. I always think that nails or any beauty treatment really is
a time to look after yourself and treat yourself, and I really like that. I also loved the fact
that I would get to come across and speak to people from all walks of life – I learnt a lot
from them and I hope in return they got something from me (even if it was just a good chat
with a 17 year old haha)
• Now what I love about the nail industry is the creative freedom it gives. I honestly think it’s
a form of expression and I know that sounds dumb, but I think nails say a lot about your
character. Funnily enough even though I do the most wacky nails, I stick to plain sheer pink
or sheer white nails but on other people I love a fun design. I’m starting to think it’s because
I’m just bitter that I can’t do my right hand well enough and therefore I make up the excuse
that I like plain nails more buttttt we will just ignore that for now!
• I think that the community itself can be really encouraging online. When you surround
yourself with likeminded people who just love what they do, and love showing off what
they are proud to the world, it can be a really positive place. Seeing other peoples new
creations and ideas is really inspiring to me, and I think a lot of the time that’s what keeps
You have been so successful with your following in a short space of time which is so inspiring, how
has that been for you?
• I’m so appreciative of the support I’ve received. I honestly cannot even understand how I
have got to the place I have managed to get to, and I don’t think I can repay each and every
one of the people who show me support in any way. I am so so so grateful to be in this
position, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the future!
• Also, who knew you could make friends online cos I most definitely didn’t! Although your
following may grow, there are always people who you notice constantly supporting you and
cheering you on even though you haven’t even met them or even know anything about
their personal life. That’s what I find really astounding, and what has filled me with a lot of
joy over the past few months when there was little to look forward to and enjoy.
• I just want to touch on the negative side a bit because I know a lot of people can relate to
this. Sometimes it can be a lot for me and I get really overwhelmed. As my followers rise,
the number of people I want to connect with and engage with also increases – but I only
have 24 hours in a day. I find it really hard to switch off, as social media is a 24 hour job. I’ve
only entered the online social media beauty industry 9 months ago, and I still think I’ve not
quite got the hang of it yet! You are your own PA, your own editor, your own content
creator, your own artist and then you’re also a friend, a girlfriend, a mum etc.. I think that’s
what I’ve found the hardest, and is something that I am continually finding ways of dealing
with. It’s not that I don’t appreciate my followers, or can’t be bothered to reply, but
sometimes I don’t want to be on my phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week – and I think that’s
okay. If I could have a long conversation to express my appreciation to each of my followers
I would, but that’s just not realistic. We put so much pressure on ourselves, but we have to
remember that we have all done so well recently, especially over this crazy ass year of ups
and downs. It’s okay to take a break, to step away and to breathe for a while. And come
back when you’re ready.
• I also think that the bigger you grow, you are subjected to more criticism and negativity as
you get more recognition. I’m all for criticism as long as it’s constructive, but I remember
the first hate comment I got (think it was literally some vomit emojis) and I was so
disheartened. To me, I can’t understand why someone feels the need to comment that on
someone’s post, especially if it is art. Artwork is subjective, not everyone is going to like it
and I’m totally okay with that, but I don’t think that justifies hurting peoples feelings,
especially if it’s something they are proud of. It’s funny cos even if you have 100 comments
which praise your work, that 1 negative comment will affect you way more. But I guess
that’s the world of social media, and I think my skins getting pretty thick by this point
What is on your goal list for the rest of the year?
• Erm, my studies definitely come first at the moment so for now I’d say graduating from my
course with a good grade. I mean another goal was to move to Tokyo… but that’s pending
• Another huge goal of mine is to begin to think about my career. I’ve never had a clear idea
of what I want to do. I’ve always thought about a career in finance (the idea of being an
intelligent woman in a male-dominant workforce has always appealed to me). I’ve done
internships and work experience at large corporate banks as well, so I do have experience.
But the more into nails I’ve got over the past 9 months, it has really made me think about
whether that’s something I’d want to do. If I was to pursue a career in nails, I don’t think I’d
want to be a full time salon worker as I enjoy creating content and tutorials so much that
that’s something I’d want to focus my time on. So maybe I’d want to be a more professional
• With regards to my Instagram account, I’ve not really set myself goals if I’m honest. I never
have, I just have gone with the flow the whole time so I think I’ll just continue doing that for
When you’re not doing nails or studying, what do you get up to?
• Is food a hobby? Well if it is then it’s defo mine. As much as I enjoy eating it, I also love
making it too! As my mum is Japanese and my dad is half Greek, throughout my life I’ve
been exposed to a huge range of foods that you wouldn’t typically eat daily in the UK. As a
result, I’m a massive foodie and my meals are probably the highlights of my day! Sad I
• And other than that I of course enjoy spending time with my friends when I can, but not
much of that has been happening over the past year because of COVID (cry). When I can I
also love to go see my boyfriend but he lives in London and I live in Edinburgh so that can be
hard at times. I also enjoy going to the gym, I love a night out, I enjoy going for brunch (all
the typical things) but I actually also really enjoy time to myself. I enjoy my own company,
and I want to start doing more things by myself once COVID has settled a bit more – maybe
I’ll go on holiday alone if I pluck up the courage!
If you could tell yourself as a beginner something.. what would it be?
• I think the main thing I’d tell myself is just be you. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you
think others will like or what is trending. A couple of months ago I was stuck in a bit of a rut
because I wasn’t enjoying my content as I felt like I was just doing designs that would do
well, rather than designs that I actually liked. I think for me, I want to be recognised for my
work and its uniqueness, rather than just putting out designs just for the sake of putting out
designs. As long as you like the design you’re doing, go for it. Who cares if others don’t like
it, that’s not a bad thing. Not everyone is going to love your stuff all the time, and that’s
totally okay. I don’t necessarily love every single design that I see on my feed, but I know the
hard work and dedication that other artists have put into these sets, so I still show my
support by liking as many posts as I can. When I was posting my body nails back in
November/December time I was worried people wouldn’t like them or think they were a bit
too much – but people loved them, and my account really took off because of them. If you
have an idea that you love, just run with it! Who knows, your page might just blow up!