Madeline Poole is an editorial manicurist and designer that we’re obsessed with. Her work has been featured in all your fave magazines, like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and in 2014 she was the Global Colour Ambassador for Sally Hansen.
Madeline is a bona fide member of the International Girl Crew with our founder, Sharmadean Reid, and she designs all their sick merch as well as having her own clothing brand Feveroom. Madeline shares with us how she got to where she is now, creating stunning nails and designing prints, from her suburban mall beauty treatments as a teenager.
All about me
I’ve been doing nails for ten years now and in the last four or so I’ve moved into design and art. Now I’m really into designing prints and I think it makes sense with nail art – the skills required are similar. The transition wasn’t entirely smooth sailing, but from the outside, hopefully, it looked seamless.
I wasn’t always so beauty orientated, or if I was, it wasn’t always so successful. As a teenager, all my beauty treatments took place in the mall as it was the only place anyone went. I was a classic American girl in a suburb of Baltimore. I got my ears pierced at Claire’s, and really who didn’t? And I got my haircut done at this classic chain salon that never left the 80s. My mom was my inspo at that point, and I got a bowl cut to match hers.
Highlights were the first style change I really did for me, that I saw and thought ‘this is what I want’. Of course, they were a mess. They started 1cm away from my roots and were orange tiger stripes. This wasn’t my only teenage beauty disaster either – I made the same mistake as every girl in the 90s and early 00s. I plucked my eyebrows. My eyebrows are naturally thick, so plucked horribly thin they looked so weird. I bleached them too and got the same patchy tiger stripes as my hair. I am fortunate that my eyebrows grew back fully; my sister’s never did.
The jump from 90s beauty tragedy to where I am now wasn’t as big as it might seem. I’ve always been a painter and detail orientated. I went to an art school in Baltimore before I moved to LA, and that was the start of things for me.
Finding my path
In LA, I was doing loads of odd jobs and I ended up as the PA on a photoshoot. It was a really sweet job and I knew I wanted to get back to this position more often. This was when I saw the manicurist on set; I honestly hadn’t even known that was an actual job. I asked her how I could get into it and she was really supportive and told me I needed to go to beauty school and be prepared to work for free for a while to build my portfolio. So that’s exactly what I did.
The very next day, I went to a Sally Beauty Supply store and bought everything I thought I’d need. I practised on all my neighbours and friends, posting everything to Facebook and turning my bedroom into a makeshift salon. Around this time, Instagram was becoming a thing and so I began posting over there too. It ended up developing into a career really fast. At the time, nails were picking up and so I think I ended up being in the right place at the right time.
Starting my career
I don’t remember which of my early jobs was my first paid job, but I do remember that one of the first jobs I had was going to the home of Miley Cyrus to do her nails. Miley Cyrus was super cool and nice, but doing celebrity nails isn’t my favourite thing. There are so many other people around that it becomes such a high-stress environment and I don’t enjoy that – I just like the painting.
I got that job and a lot of my early work from Jenna Hipp, the manicurist I met on that first photoshoot. Jenna started an all-nail agency in LA, and so she helped me get work when I was just starting out. Then, when I was around 25 or 26, I moved to New York.
I ended up going into the more editorial side of nails, rather than salon work, because I’m not much of a people person. When I do nails, I love to just zone out and paint, so I’m useless at holding a conversation. At a photoshoot there are loads of people around to hold conversations and so I can easily zone out and immerse myself in my work. I also enjoy looking at the results in the photos and even taking the photos myself.
A new direction
At this point, I kind of thought to myself, ‘maybe I don’t love working in fashion’. So I moved away from what I was doing. On shoots as a manicurist, there was a lot of free time; most of my day was sitting around and waiting. Eventually, I began bringing my computer in and taught myself Photoshop and Illustrator. This is how I ended up moving into design and printmaking. I still do work in fashion, I guess, but it’s more behind the scenes and lowkey now.
Around this time I was doing a lot of collabs and this really opened my mind to what I was capable of. I discovered various types of design and found them fun, like packaging and apparel. When I was doing the Nike and International Girl Crew collab, I found that to explain my ideas I had to mock things up. I had a lot of ideas and I wanted to explain all of them clearly and so being able to show my thoughts helped a lot. I really developed my abilities in Illustrator so I could explain myself better.
Where I am now
I’ve not hit my stride yet in the design department. I suppose I’ve only just started, but I still feel it coming. At the very least, I’ve reached a place where I feel more confident and things come easier and it will, hopefully, continue that way.
Right now, I’m still doing a lot of collabs. I’m working with ManiMe and they’ve been so great; they really got my ideas without a huge amount of back and forth. Other than that, I’m mainly working with friends like Alexia at Miaou designing the prints for the brand or more graphic design work for Adam Selman. Mainly it’s a lot of random pieces here and there and I’m not the face of these things – I can keep things quiet and under wraps, and I like that.
My own brand, Feveroom, is something I honestly always forget about. I picked the name because every other name was already taken, or at least it felt like that. I started it as a showcase or portfolio for my personal style. I’m an eccentric person and I love bold prints and colours, and that often needs to be toned down when I’m doing designs for others. Feveroom is uniquely and authentically me. There isn’t a lot there because I’m conscious of waste but what I’ve made so far I love.
- Masami at Vacancy Project
- The Hair Artiste in Downtown NYC
- Laser hair removal at Xen Laser Aesthetics on 57th Street, NYC
- Henna eyebrow tinting at Pinkys in East Village NYC
- Manicure at Hollywood Nails in East Village NYC
- Milk and honey pedicure at JINsoon in Tribeca NYC
- Spa and body scrub at Wall Street Bath
Madeline is just one of the many amazing guests we’ve had on #TheBeautystackPodcast. Join Sharmadean Reid as she speaks to a different powerful woman each episode about their careers, identity, and the role beauty plays in that. Listen to The Beautystack Podcast on your favourite streaming service, such as Spotify or over on YouTube.