Watching her in her element was moving. I’ve been getting my nails done bimonthly for 10 years and I’ve never had them done by a woman who looked like me.
Ashley Harper, better known as Harper, began doing nails six years ago. A North Carolina A&T graduate with a degree in Liberal Studies and Communications, she had dreams of being a museum curator. Like many of us (I wanted to work in a mental health hospital until I worked in a mental health hospital), she quickly realized that this wasn’t her calling. She interned at museums and even worked at her alma mater before realizing her dream of becoming a manicurist. It wasn’t until the passing of her father in September of 2013 that Harper made the decision to follow her own path. When asked what made her decide to do nails, she said, “I thought of what I spent the most money on and went with that.” Harper went on to talk about how nails have always made her happy. As a natural artist, doing nails came easily for Harper. Her studio, currently based out of her home, is adorned with artwork done by her including the piece prominently displaying her manicurist license.
Harper is a Durham native, but lived in Greensboro for 10 years before returning home to start her business from scratch two years ago. She worked in a nail salon in Greensboro, which she enjoyed, but knew that she wanted to do the same for herself. Word quickly spread of her return home and she has built a loyal following. Harper puts her artistic abilities into the work that she does with nails. When asked if she still sketches or paints, she replied, “I save all my art for the nails.” From geometric shapes to marbled designs, it seems there’s nothing Harper can’t do. She even does her own nails! I can’t even polish with my left hand! See some of her work below.
Though Harper’s Parlour currently exists in her home, it has all the makings of a traditional salon. Getting your nails done by her is like being a member of an exclusive club. I didn’t even get the address until hours before my appointment! However, Harper has plans to open her talents up to the general public come early fall as she will be opening her first salon in Durham. Harper currently offers acrylic and gel nail services but has plans to expand her services to include pedicures once her salon opens. Harper is available by appointment only and takes clients from 10am-6pm Monday through Saturday.
If you’re in the market for Instagrammable, swoon worthy nails, Harper’s Parlour is where you need to be. Harper has set up a GoFundMe which she is using to raise funds to establish her salon. Click here to donate.
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