Nail Envy Like WOAH – Meet Mei

By: Jaymi Zimmerman

Summer calls for serious nails. We have been obsessing over nail designs ranging from whimsical to wow. Everywhere we turn, nails are upping their game and before each manicure we spend way too much time scrolling Pinterest for the next big idea. One nail designer in particular caught our attention on Instagram, and we HAD to talk to her.

Meet Mei Kawajiri – and her site Nails by Mei Now scrape your jaw off the ground and keep reading….

After over a decade making her mark in her native Japan, Mei Kawajiri moved to New York City in 2012 and has since become one of the most requested and imitated artistic manicurists in the world.

Specializing in hand-painted, detailed art and unique 3D “nail sculpture”, Mei’s precision and ability to create photo-realistic images without the use of stencils, stickers, or other pre-fab tools sets her work apart.

Mei’s work has been featured by publications including Vogue, CR Fashion Book, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan,, TeenVogue, People, InStyle, Refinery29, Vogue Japan, Paper Magazine,, PopSugar, Food and Wine, Essence, Dior Magazine, Fast Company and The Hollywood Reporter.

In the past two years alone, Mei has enjoyed working with brands and organizations including Google, Samsung, Stella McCartney, The CFDA, Colette Paris, Diesel, Maybelline, Hewlett Packard, Nordstrom, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, amongst others.

Mei currently divides her time between house calls for her loyal clients, celebrity clientele, and on-location services for editorial, commercial, and other creatively inclined projects. Mei is represented globally by New York based agency, ORME SQUARE.

Here’s us, Schmoozing with the master:


Do you come up with the designs, or do customers give suggestions? Each client is different, some come to me with a specific design, some we discuss and come up with an idea together, and some prefer what we like to call “Omakase” or “Whatever Mei wants!”

Do you do art outside of nails?  I enjoy sketching and illustration.


Start to finish – how long does a manicure usually take? Depends on the complexity of the design and the number of colors involved, but anywhere from 1-2 hours generally.


How long do these manicures normally last for? At least 2 weeks but as long as 3-4 weeks depending on the level of activity.


Where are you located? I do in-store events in and around NYC.

Do you have other workers or just you? I have a wonderful team of assistants.

Can you even imagine incorporating your Mitzvah theme into your NAILS?! What would you put?

Follow Mei on Insta here