Ava Fierce comes from a world of beauty. Born into a family of cosmetologists, and with more than 10 years of competitive cheerleading under her belt, the 14-year-old has been surrounded by glitter and rhinestones all her life. It was her cheer coaches, many of whom are drag queens themselves, who introduced Ava to "RuPaul’s Drag Race." Thus, her love for drag began.
Oakland, CA — For nearly two years, Ava has been making press-on nails for drag queens. What began as gifts for her favorite queens who came to town — Ava’s first set went to drag star Naomi Smalls — eventually turned into a business. Nails 4 Queens started small, with Ava selling nails to her local queens.
As the business grew, so did the clientele. It was through Instagram that Ava reached out to bigger queens. Thanks in part to promotion from queens like Melissa Befierce and Ongina, Ava’s Instagram took off. @nails.4.queens has grown to over 15,000 followers, and can count on countless "Drag Race" alums as loyal customers.
Now, two of her clients — Soju and Ariel Versace — will be featured in the upcoming season of "RuPaul's Drag Race."
YR Media reporter Emiliano Villa had the chance to chat with Ava as she took a break from her busy schedule of bedazzling nails and running an embellishment empire to talk family, rhinestones and Ru girls.
Emiliano Villa: So what’s the breakdown of a day in the life of Ava Fierce? School, homework, nails?
Ava Fierce: I've actually done cyber school since third grade, so it's a lot easier. Homework, I have a bunch of that, but it's not that difficult to do, and instead of a lunch break, I can be doing nails. I don't know how I would be able to do nails if I went to public school. We've already had some sleepless nights. Like five nights ago, me and my mom were in the nail room until 5:30 a.m. and I didn't go to bed until 8:30 a.m. We had some rush orders.
EV: Nail room? What’s that like?
AF: It's just a little room that’s the perfect size for everything, from nails to packaging. It’s probably the most used room of my house. My mom and I are always in here. Whenever my sister needs to talk to us, she'll come in here and sit and somehow we'll all end up in this room. And there’s always something drag playing on the computers.
EV: Do you have any funny stories of any nail disasters?
AF: There's always an incident whenever there's loose glitter involved, I'm really not that good with keeping it from going everywhere. Before we set up the nail room, there was glitter everywhere. It's like permanently in our clothes. I go a little crazy with the glitter sometimes.
EV: Do you get help from your family with Nails 4 Queens?
AF: It's honestly like a family business. My dad is my glove model, and my mom will prep nails and set them up, and then hand them to me to polish and stone and everything. Everyone helps in their own way. I make the nails, pass them down to my mom, she packages, and then we give them to my dad to take to the post office.
EV: Who were those rush orders for?
AF: The most recent rush order was for Kameron Michaels. She totally forgot that she was out of nails for her big tour through Europe! She’s a very good client of mine.
Gucci-inspired coffin nails made by Ava for Ongina. Ava has been making press-on nails for drag queens for nearly two years. (Photo courtesy Ava Fierce)
EV: I’ve seen so many Drag Race girls wearing your nails on your Instagram. Naomi wears your nails a lot, as well as Miz Cracker and others.
AF: Yeah, I believe Naomi is wearing them on a lot of the challenges on "All Stars" 4.
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#RepostPlus @naomismalls - - - - - - Had such a blast collaborating with @ISLYNYC on these electric sunnies created for the ‘POSE’ debut. Decided they’re just too good to have all to myself, limited stock available online at ISLYNYC 🖤 shot by: @beodddierich photo artist: @mostlyjune_ hair: @wigsandgrace nails: @nails.4.queens
EV: What was it like meeting the queens that you work with and seeing your nails on them?
AF: Well, I always get super nervous meeting people. I could talk to someone everyday through text, but in person I will still be quiet until you’re around me for like 30 minutes. Then I will not stop talking. It's really cool to meet them in person, and I love when I meet them and they have their nails on.
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NYC DragCon Preview Day was AMAZING! I LOVED seeing and meeting so many Queens that wear my Nails! And I am so thankful for my new Clients! I AM ALMOST SOLD OUT! But I’ll be taking Custom Orders!! Come see me tomorrow at Booth #602 with @Ongina and @welovequeens #nails4queens #nails #drag #queen #dragqueen #dragnails #dragcon #rupaulsdragcon
EV: Do you have a favorite story of when you've met someone you’ve worked with?
AF: I always tell people that I've only cried meeting three people. The first one was Naomi Smalls. I would say Naomi was like the first drag queen that I actually got obsessed over. RuPaul was the second, and the most recent was James Charles. He actually posted my gloves on his Instagram story and my phone would not stop blowing up with followers.
EV: Drag is an industry that is very quickly becoming more mainstream. RuPaul’s "Drag Race" is on VH1 now and that’s opened up the fan base and drawing in younger audiences. What do your friends think of your business?
AF: A few of my friends do watch "Drag Race" and they watched it before I was even friends with them. My friends always try to watch my live videos and are definitely huge supporters of what I do. I would say most of my friends are drag queens, though.
EV: What was it like the first time that you saw your nails on TV? Do you remember who it was?
AF: Honestly it was crazy. It was surreal. My whole family was watching. I want to say it was Miz Cracker, but she wasn't the only one I saw who wore them.
Ava and Naomi Smalls in November 2018. Ava made her first set of drag queen nails for Naomi. (Photo courtesy Ava Fierce)
EV: What do you have planned for the future of Nails 4 Queens?
AF: When I'm older, I would like to open a salon for nails. I also want to learn how to do hair and wigs, but I definitely want to always make nails. It’s so fun because you're never doing the same exact thing, so I never get bored.
EV: Do you have any words of wisdom for any other young entrepreneurs?
AF: You're never too young to do anything you want.
EV: If you’re not wearing Nails 4 Queens, are you really doing drag?
AF: I wonder the same thing, honestly!