Young beauty entrepreneur Stephnie Shek tells how she’s painting a future with her boutique nail salon

A graduate of fine art from London’s Central Saint Martins, Stephnie Shek is no stranger to artefacts that are pleasing to the eye. Coupled with her flair for detail, beautiful design and all things artistic, it’s no surprise Stephnie is a fan of fine watches–with Breguet’s rose gold Marine Dame 9518, the elegant timepiece adorned with diamonds and mother-of-pearl, being her current favourite. If her name’s unique spelling–Stephnie, not Stephanie–is anything to go by, the young entrepreneur isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. Following her studies, it was clear that Stephnie’s career path would follow an artistic direction.

“I always thought I would pursue a career in fine art, maybe even become a painter,” says Stephnie. She was on the right track–except her canvas would become nail plates and her masterpieces luxurious manicures. After returning to Hong Kong in 2014, Stephnie opened boutique nail salon EightyEight at 53 Wellington Street and quickly upped the city’s mani pedi game, thanks to a talented team of nail artists, a welcoming yet design-focused salon space and her own can-do attitude.

Harnessing the power of social media with the salon’s Instagram account, which boasts over 47,000 followers, Stephnie attributes the success of EightyEight to her team of experienced staff. “For me, being successful means creating a place where my team feels valued, important and loved,” she says. Staff at EightyEight carry the titles of ‘nail artists’, and clients can expect more than a standard paint job here. The nail artists can create any design the heart desires, with impressive freehand techniques that turn fingertips into statement pieces.

“I encourage my staff to always stay ahead of the curve and know what the latest nail trends are, while making sure the basic skills are well practised, and that we still offer classic styles,” she explains. “So the classics become a foundation for innovation. The curve pattern on Breguet’s Marine Dame 9518 reminds me of nail art inspired by the sea—an exceptional design supported by its classic technical performance,” she says as she looks down at her wrist.” Following the success of EightyEight, Stephnie has expanded her beauty business, with two more locations in Lee Garden Three and Mong Kok, under sister brand BusyBee. Despite all the glitz and glamour, Stephnie says setting up a business is by no means an easy feat.

Above Video: Kevin Cheung/Hong Kong Tatler

“Being an entrepreneur is a full-time, 24/7 job that requires your constant attention, often outside normal business hours,” she says. “A lot of work goes into each space we’ve opened: the design, decor, service and overall experience. The most rewarding part is when we receive good feedback from our clients. It makes it all worthwhile.”

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  • VideographyKevin Cheung
  • PhotographyAffa Chan
  • StylingSpencer Leung
  • HairWendy Lee @Wendy's Workshop
  • LocationJohn Anthony
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