National Nail-art Winner

Pandemic lockdown has led to a Bishop Auckland College student winning a prestigious national nail art competition – and to starting a new career. Kimberley Mills’ daring designs on a Pop Art theme turned the heads of judges.

Kimberley Mills

Her delicately painted nails came in bright and dazzling yellow and pink, while others showed a woman’s mouth biting down on a roll of money, in Paisley and leopard print. And her new-found talent has led her to open her new home-based nail art business, Royal Meadow Fairy, which had been up and running for almost a year.

Kimberley, 31, works from home in Bishop Auckland, creating a range of designs which can be viewed and bought via her website. Fellow student Georgia Sutherland, described by lecturers as highly creative with strong artistic flair, clinched third place in the same competition. Of her competition win and new life as an entrepreneur, Kimberley, a mum, said: “It was because of lockdown that I discovered my talent and liking for nail art. “I decided to learn more about it by taking a course at Bishop Auckland College, which I have found very enjoyable and rewarding. “Without that and the skills I have learned, I would not have entered the competition, nor won. I’ve never entered a competition like it before, I was shocked to win but delighted. “My college course is part-time which gives me the time to also concentrate on my business. “I design nails which people can see on my website, and I then post them out.”

The competition’s theme was nail art designs based on the cartoon characters the Powder Puff Girls and artwork by the 1960s American artist Roy Lichtenstein. To win, Kimberley designed her idea which she then implemented onto nails using various techniques such as freehand nail art, 3D gels and cut outs. She then mounted them on a mood board, and she also created a step-by-step booklet showing her process. She was selected for the Blackpool final after winning through a regional heat in Newcastle. Kimberley was unable to attend the final, for which she had to produce 10 designs as one cohesive design, and lecturer Eileen Steel took her place. Lecturer Catherine Lee: “I am so proud of Kimberley and Georgia. They have done fantastically well. “The standard at the competition was extremely high, and their high placings are testament to their hard work and creativity.” The college’s one-year part-time Level 3 Diploma in Nail Services teaches practical skills in liquid and powder nail enhancements, hard gel nail enhancements, E-file, nail art techniques and 3D advanced nail art.

Kimberley’s designs can be seen at