I'm always amazed by stories of how an ordinary human being shifts from a secured job to a life-transforming career. Exhibit A: Tom Bachik makes for an unlikely manicurist. A California skater boy with a graphic design background, Bachik fell into the nail business in 1994 and has since built up an impressive clientele (ScarJo, Gwen Stefani, and Victoria Beckham are all fans). It’s thanks to his Hollywood cred that Chanel—a brand that has recently become as famous for its ready-to-wear nail polishes as its iconic quilted bags—quietly signed him as its first ever celebrity manicurist. Vogue caught up with Bachik and grilled him on nail art, how he landed one of the sweetest beauty gigs around, and that pale blue polish in Beyoncé’s "Why don't you love me" video (Yup, it's Chanel).

So…how did a straight dude from California end up a celebrity manicurist?

Oh man, you know what, it was kind of one of those…not accidents, but maybe revelations, I guess. I’d originally gone to school for graphic design, and at the time I was into racing jet skis and custom-painting helmets and things like that. My wife and I were getting ready to have our first son, it was the middle of a recession, and the whole starving-artist thing wasn’t working anymore, so I needed to find a real job. Then one day we were having lunch with my cousin, who was going to school for hair, and he was like, “You know, during times of recession, both the beauty and the alcohol industries actually increase in revenue.” Because people want to look and feel good! And those simple cheap pleasures like polishing your nails can make you feel much better in spite of everything else that’s going on. And I said, “Yeah, but I don’t have a year and a half to go back to school for hair and makeup,” and he’s all, “No, do nails.” At the time nail school was three months and he knew people who had opened a salon after graduating who were bringing in six figures. That happened on a Thursday; on a Friday we checked out the school, and on Monday I started.

Were there any other guys in your class?

Nope. Nothing. There was not one guy in my class. And at the time the whole Asian nail salon explosion hadn’t even happened yet, so there were even less guys doing it than there are now.

How inspiring. It's never too late to discover your true potential is unveiled by a simple decision as learning on how to paint nails.