Nails By Bree (With Three e’s)


The ever-charming and effortlessly cool Pennsylvania-based nail technician and sculptor, Breanna Robak, stopped by Inked NYC to not only give us some custom Halloween manicures, but also delivered the inside scoop on the life of a nail tech.

The tattoo-clad and seasoned nail technician’s love of nail art simply poured out of her while concocting an original set of “The Blair Witch Project” inspired nails for our Creative Director. The artist’s knowledge of all things nail related goes back nearly two decades, and she was eager to share the wisdom she’s gathered over the years. The roaring passion and palpable joy that Robak exudes for what she does goes right down to the bone, and not even a deeply decadent bagel-charcuterie board set up on a tattoo tray was enough to stop her from creating some of the most jaw-dropping nail looks.

For many a nail enthusiast, a proper manicure acts as not only an extension of the self but also as a form of body armor. Your nails are a form of personal expression, and no matter which way you choose to style and take care of them, they act yet another piece to your individual puzzle. So, it was a real Halloween treat to have Robak stop by and share her passion with Inked this spooky season.

Photography by @visualsbykaitlin

Could you please introduce yourself, and speak a little on what you do?

My name is Breanna Robak, people know me as Bree, and I have been doing nails for 16 years. I own my own salon in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I also do and teach pottery, that’s pretty much it [laughs]. 

How did you get involved in the nail industry? 

I was actually going to school for hair and part of the program is nails and then a little part of that program is nail art. I was always artsy, and I realized you can literally paint things on nails, that was amazing. It was my two passions, beauty and art, mixed. So, from there it was a no brainer, that’s how it started. 

So you mentioned that you do a little bit of pottery, but were you an artist in any capacity before you became a nail tech?

Officially, no. I didn’t go to school for it or anything like that. I liked to draw, and paint, and craft, and make different things from as early as I can remember.

What kind of pottery do you do?

I specialize in small batch mugs. I have a sick obsession with mugs. 

No, I love that, I have a huge mug collection. 

I feel like that’s functional art, so I feel like it’s a good seller too. I can create and sell it and not be stuck with all this stuff that I can’t do anything with. 

Do you find yourself going through “aesthetic” phases, both with your mugs and your nails?

A little bit, yeah, for sure. I think my personal aesthetic tends to stay the same. But, I get bored of doing the same things all the time and I also like to create things that other people would like too. Even though it’s something that I wouldn’t personally collect, that doesn’t mean it’s not cool as hell. 

What are some common misconceptions about your line of work?

That a particular product ruins your nails. So, it’s usually the nail tech that ruins your nails, not necessarily the product. Everyone thinks, “Oh my God, acrylic ruined my nails.” No, it’s probably your nail tech buzzing half your nail off or the file lines, or just the nail tech not caring about your nail health. I mean there are some not-great products, like non professional products that maybe aren’t the best, but they’re not going to rip half your nail off, you know what I mean? If you rip your nails off then that is going to ruin your nails. I feel like in a lot of salons you ask for a new set, and they rip half your nail off, and you can’t do that [laughs]

What’s your favorite nail set that you’ve ever worked on?

Oh God, I have no idea. There’s quite a few. I think I tend to love the super witchy sets, like the really spooky ones. I love doing characters, and Disney characters specifically. I am not a Disney adult, so I love them because they turn out awesome, but they’re not my favorite. But, I really love creepy, dark nails, because that’s like my aesthetic. 

How often should someone actually get their nails done?

It really depends from person to person, and what they get done and how their nails grow. So if their nails don’t grow very fast, they can go a little bit longer. If they have oilier nail beds, then they would have to come in more often because then they are more prone to lifting, so it really varies. 

What are some current or upcoming nail trends that people should look out for?

Honestly, that’s a tough one because there are so many different aesthetics and so many different styles with nails these days so get whatever you like, get whatever you’re drawn to. As far as trends go, I honestly don’t know. I’m kind of in my own little world and I do my own little thing you know?

What are some of the wildest nail trends you’ve ever seen?

The flare nails. I mean some people like them, that’s cool man, I don’t dig it. I can appreciate it, but I think it’s wild that people put massive gems and stones and huge accessories on their nails. I think it looks awesome, like it looks cool and I give kudos to whoever can wear them because that’s probably tough. Or, they call them extendos, they’re like these five inch long extensions, and I think that’s crazy but it’s awesome that you can do that. 

What are some celebrity nails trends that you’ve been a fan of or that you hate?

That’s a tough one, I don’t think I really hate anything because I can appreciate all styles. I’ll tell you one thing I did get sick of doing was the glazed donut Hailey Bieber nails. They’re beautiful, absolutely beautiful but if someone says glazed donut nails one more time I’d be like, “okay, sure, I’ll do it…” 

What are some client dos and don’ts? 

For me personally, the only thing that really annoys me is when a client bumps their nail in the UV lamp. I don’t care if people are on their phone, like this is also your time, as long as I can do what I’m doing efficiently, I don’t care; just don’t mess up my work. That’s really my only peeve, and ripping your nails off. They’re your nails and you can do whatever you want to them, but just know that if you rip half your nail off that’s not me, that’s on you. 

What are some client red flags? 

I don’t like to assume and judge people, but if clients aren’t willing to put down a deposit then that’s a little bit of a red flag. Because if you don’t have the money for it now, how are you going to have money for it the day of the appointment, you know what I mean? It goes towards the service. It’s not like you’re giving me free money. Or like, if they ask a price and I tell them and then they ghost me, I mean that’s not really a red flag, it’s just not in their budget, which is fine. I’m very easy going, I just want to do my job and I want you to love your nails, I’m pretty chill. I’m always late so I don’t even get mad at other people being late, because that’s how I am. 

Do you have a daily nail care routine?

No, what do they say about construction workers? They don’t want to work on their own house because they’re so busy taking care of everyone else’s, it’s the same thing. I don’t take care of my nails as much as I should.

So do you get your nails done?

No, I do my own, but because I do pottery now I can’t really have nails, I have to do like a little gel mani. My nails are always a mess because of that, the clay is so drying. So, I can’t say that I do have a nail care routine. 

What is your best advice for keeping your nails healthy?

Cuticle oil, try to keep your hands out of chemicals, if you’re going to use hand sanitizer I would suggest also using hand lotion and cuticle oil after because it can dry out your skin. Don’t wait eight weeks to get your nails done in between appointments because it can put a lot of stress on your nails beds. Those are the crucial ones. 

What’s something someone could do to go the extra mile, if they’re really into nail care?

No biting, no ripping, hand masks, carry around little cuticle oil sticks or swabs in your bag. 

Are there any celebrities who’s nails you’re dying to work on?

Yes, number one, Post Malone. Hands down, he’s my boy. Also, I really love Bunnie, Jelly Roll’s wife. I love her, I think she’s the cutest, she’s so fine. Doja Cat, I would love to do Doja’s nails. There’s a lot, but those are the big ones. 

CD: Because I’m a dude getting my nails done, what do you think about men getting their nails done, and how far should they go? 

I don’t think there are any limitations on what genders can do. If you want long nails I’ll give you long nails. 

Last question, what’s next for you and what are you up to?

I just moved my salon, it’s a little bit bigger, better and beautiful. I don’t have any future steps as of right now but I guess time will tell. 

Where can we find you?

I own The 411 Studio, it’s in Scranton, PA. My social media is @nailsbybreee, and all of my information can be found there. My pottery page is called the @thegreenwarewitch.

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