In 19th-century America, it was characteristic of audience members to boo, shout expletives and throw rotten tomatoes at the actors, comedians and opera singers they were least impressed by. In the more rowdy venues, some attendees went so far as to coerce one another to rip apart their seats and sling them toward the stage.
This created a culture of anxiety and fear surrounding one’s creative endeavors. More specifically, this meant that – despite having prepared for weeks or months, straightened their tall halls, smoothed out their petticoats and bravely given their artistic best on stage — after the curtain closed, there began a private war zone. These brave individuals were doomed to spend the remainder of their evenings slouched in their dressing room chairs, silencing the hiss of defeat and picking rotten tomato bits from their faces.
This process became, in part, the bane of the creative person’s existence. Out with abundance and reward, and in with the culture of creative martyrdom. Gradually, the mentality toward an artistic life shifted to one of luck, struggle and the hope for a chance victory.
The synergy of creative worthiness and abundant living became an enigma — a puzzle only a select and extraordinary few ‘geniuses’ could solve. God must be smiling down over them, others assumed. And, so, an imaginary divide between creativity and financial prosperity was concocted and served to the masses — rendering the majority of the world drunk and spinning from this poisonous nonsense ever since.
In an effort to destroy this epidemic, Naja Rickette (known by her fans as “Naja Nail Guru”) — star of “L.A. Hair,” celebrity nail artist, internet sensation, Guinness World Records holder, fierce female entrepreneur and quintessential abundance ninja – is tapping the whole world on the shoulder. She is eager to throw ice cold water over our delusions of scarcity and rattle us awake from our drunken stupors.
Continue reading as I draw back the curtain and welcome you inside for a glimpse at our intimate interview. Prepare to activate the components of creating your most abundant life possible.
On Embracing Originality
Rickette says she has not always felt abundant. She spent her youth insecure, void of fulfillment and — begrudgingly — dressed in uniform. “I went to Catholic school my entire life, so when I moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles at 26, I was in search of a new life and career where I could demonstrate my own style,” she says.
She was pleased to find that a day spa in Marina Del Rey, California needed a front desk attendee. Best of all, she could express herself in any fashionable assemble of her choosing.
Although Rickette swears bravery did not come to her naturally, she unquestionably had an innateness for honing the principles of originality, however. At that day spa, Rickette found an untended itch – one she was first in line to scratch.
Having noticed that customers requested — almost daily — manicure and pedicure appointments on Sundays and Mondays, she observed that no nail technicians were ever willing. Puzzled by this, Rickette’s marketing wheels began to turn, provoking her to wonder, “What if I go to school and learn to do manicures and pedicures? There is no competition on Sundays and Mondays. I can take all of the business for myself.”
So, she did exactly that.
“One of the reasons I have become successful,” confesses Rickette,” is because I have never been a copy of anyone else. I’ve always looked for new ways of doing things. If everyone stopped trying to copy the people they admire and just became the best ‘them’ they could ever be, they would be surprised with what they could accomplish.”
Accept Your Worthiness
Rickette was not always so agile, confident and suave in her mindset, however.
Her internal world shifted during a simple phone conversation in 2008 — considered by Rickette to have been “a force of grace.”
While organizing a training for a newly-launched product, a fellow nail artist expressed an aversion to the $389 price attached to Rickette’s four-hour class. Appalled, the colleague gasped, “You’re going to make $100 an hour for this!”
Without pausing to concoct a nervous rebuttal of apology, Rickette retorted, matter-of-factly, “Well, I’m sorry, m’am. That’s what I value my time at.”
Awed by her own brazen words, she was riddled with chills — surprised that she felt no urgency to offer further elaboration. In that moment, a seed of unapologetic abundance was planted – a seed something from deep within her had revealed to itself.
Rather than continue her resistance, the colleague responded in awe, “Oh, wow,” she said. “Can you teach me more of… that?”
“Right there, in that conversation, I knew something had changed,” says Rickette. “Never again would I make myself small or be afraid of my own worth.”
From there, she began to teach other professionals within the beauty industry about the art of living in alignment with their value — sans excuses and second-guessing. “You don’t have to get into some verbal Kung Fu battle with people about why you charge what you charge or why you do what you do,” says Rickette. “If you consistently bring the best of yourself to your craft and area of expertise, others will begin to agree with you.”
It sounds so foundational — even trite, but is actually quite paradigm-shattering when considering how few live their lives in support of their own prosperity. Perhaps the key is simple: Decide what you are worth and then begin to act in a way, produce in a way and expect in a way that matches that decision.
“No one is more worthy than the next,” adds Rickette. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or what others have said about you. Every day is an opportunity to draw from the abundance in the Universe.”
Rickette has realized that her passion for helping others hone their worthiness is rooted in a place much deeper than that conversation a decade ago, however.
She concedes: “My mother had a wooden paddle that read, ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ I endured a lot of abuse in my early days, and the worst was being unable to express myself. I think this is what fuels me to speak so fiercely – not only speak for myself but for others. I find that, in creative industries, people are afraid to ask for what they deserve, and I am determined to change that.”
Bravery Is Non-Negotiable
Rickette’s infectious cackle and feisty remarks can be heard resounding through electronic devices all over the country. Her platinum blonde hair, dancing blue eyes, edgy style and body-positive stance are splashed all over the internet. She has groomed the hands and feet of A-List celebrities ranging from Jay Z to Katy Perry to Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige. She has been photographed posing on red carpets, and has commanded innumerable stages before ample crowds. One may assume she is a prodigy of the great spirit of fearlessness — a darling child conceived in the belly of bravery.
But she swears it isn’t true.
“People think that because I have had a radio show, been on television and taught internationally, I am somehow unafraid. But, I am afraid like everyone else. The difference is that I hone the element of courage, making sure it is always stronger than my fear.”
While it is commonplace to assume that those who dare to share their work with the masses were blessed with superhuman fearlessness, I — like Rickette — have identified this as a myth. Having interviewed and collaborated with more than my fair share of celebrities and affluent public figures, I have invariably detected some level of fear and insecurity in each of them. No is is immune. In that regard, highly accomplished people are no different than anyone else.
While sharing my perspective with Rickette, she chimed in, voicing her opinion on what does make these individuals different: “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courageous people feel the presence of fear, but it never stops them from walking through it.”
Rickette credits her father for having planted seeds which flourished her growth mindset: “The greatest gift he gave me was that he ingrained hunger and hustle into my mentality. It is amazing what people will get done when they realize others will not do their work for them. Miracles happen when you are forced into the urgency of hunger.”
Decide to Become Unstoppable
When Rickette coaches her legion of clients, she breaks down their goals into “bite-size pieces,” for she has learned that the “big picture” is oftentimes overwhelming. “I force them to ask themselves, ‘What will happen if I try for this?’ People are often shocked by the things they fear – things that are hardly scary at all.”
My interpretation of her message, simplified: You can thrive as a creative person. Your art matters. You can be well-compensated for honing your hustle and talents. You are as abundant as you decide to be.
Rickette solidifies this message as she concludes the interview: “What people fear and dread most are often not facts, but of their own creation. Stop forecasting lack, and decide – here and now — that the climate of your life is in your favor.”
This article was also syndicated in an issue of The Connect magazine.