“Sista Ntswembu” is the nail tech whose name is on everybody’s lips as she seeks to push artistic boundaries in the cosmetic beauty industry, with her elaborative manicure designs. 

On the edge of Smit Street, alongside the trendiest stores and hangout spots in Braamfontein, lies the new home of the “Nail Pimp”, owned by Naledi Thabo also known as “Sista Ntswembu”.  

The space also boasts a tattoo parlour, piercing studio and jewellery place, which all fall under Mo’ Piiercings. Thabo’s spot, nestled in a corner, has a lively and vibrant atmosphere. The open-plan and quirky space, with its artificial grass wallpaper and a framed photo of the late Khanya Hadebe above racks of merchandise, is inviting to anyone who comes for many of her services. 

Thabo has managed to garner various clients who love her work and designs; however, she considers herself more of a visual artist and multi-hyphenate than just an impressive nail tech. She also works in the art and fashion industry and is sought after for her innovative and eye-catching designs. 

The multi-talented “Nail Pimp” at the GSPT exhibition. Photo: Rufaro Chiswo

Her visual artistry can be seen in a hair art page called Braidedbygods that displays various pictures of her work. Thabo also does more traditional visual art, specifically sculptures.  

This week she exhibited her work at GSPT (pronounced “G-Spot’’), an artistic showcase at New Doornfontein’s Hallmark House in collaboration with Puma. The exhibition is geared to create exposure for black women in South Africa. Thabo hopes the potential success of the exhibition “could change the game for [her] as an artist”.  

The flourishing artist also collaborated with Stimorol and Happyville in March on a clothing campaign featuring both her hair and nail art.  

Thabo has her sights set on more collaborations this year with the likes of fashion designer Rich Mnisi and the Mr Price beauty line, Scarlett Hill, as her top picks. With such collaborations, past and future, she believes, “people [will] finally get to see what nail techs have been doing”.  

Despite the rapid growth of her career, Thabo has been in this line of work for only two years. She says she ‘‘got good really quick”, and her choice to enter the industry felt like “a fate thing”.   

A love for the artistry and the clientele is another element of her career she attributes to this growth. Thabo says spending almost two hours with a client and conversing during an appointment are a huge part of why she loves her work.   

FEATURED IMAGE: One of “Sista Ntswembu’s” eye-catching nail designs. Photo: Naledi Thabo