The creative collective talks the synergy of their group, seeking solace in nature and the energy that transpires across the beauty counter when spending time with their clients.
Photography by Hassan Khan
Photography by Hassan Khan
In this collaboration series with Relentless Energy, Wonderland sits down with four talents-on-the-rise to discuss their journeys to the helm of London’s creative sphere, and what the concept of living without limits means to them.
On a humid Saturday morning, I find myself in the depths of Dagenham amidst gnome hat-wielding festival-goers and psychedelic sets galore, aka East London’s Elrow Festival. A true celebration of modern-day house, the rave-like setting played host to a plethora of DJs, and while the blaring music was captivating in nature, there was something else catching the eye of attendees: The Salon. Hosted by Relentless Energy, the pop-up beauty spot played host to the incomparable, infectiously energetic, Queens Peckham.
A group comprised of piercers and nail & hair artists, the creative collective, made up of Beth Kucic, Natasha Blake of FUEGO Nails, April Arabella of Cherry Bomb Nails, Sukera and Aubra Kidd, resides in the heart of Peckham in a salon overflowing with good vibes and artistic freedom. The likes of which have seen the individuals rack up countless followers on Instagram and build up a fiercely loyal following that keep coming back for the undeniably cool nail art and vibrant hair treatments on offer.
“Sometimes I’ll be dead and then I’ll be like, ‘Oh, but Beth’s doing it’, and she’s been running the salon, so,” explains Natasha when speaking on how the Queens ignite the energy between themselves on the tougher days. “But sometimes I can just be honest with my client about feeling off. sometimes, it depends on your relationship with your clients, but a lot of my returning clients know my energy, and we’ll just be like, ‘Should we just not talk today’? So it’s just having that comfortability and not forcing energy.”
As we gathered inside the Salon’s secret backstage rave space ahead of the festival’s commencement on Saturday morning, Beth, Natasha, April, Sukera and Aubra welcomed me into their intimate circle as we spoke on how infectious the energy of clients can be, where they go to seek inspiration and what living without limits means to them. Head below to enjoy our chat with Queens Peckham…
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Photography by Hassan Khan
So, what are the first things you guys do in the morning? Beth: So, when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is grab my phone and check my messages and emails to see if any of the team have messaged, just to keep on top of things. I need to know so I wake up like, ‘okay, this is what’s happening’? And then I crack on with the day. Aubra: I have a pint of coffee. Sukera: The first thing I do is check on my son, make him breakfast and then start the day.
Next, what does the idea of living without limits mean to you all? Aubra: Living without limits for me means stopping caring about what other people think. No one can be you, no one’s judging you. No one remembers the embarrassing stuff that you’ve done. So just stop caring and just be yourself because this is your first time on Earth and could be your last – that went dark! But no, just be yourself because you only live once.
I think people are going to feel inspired after they read this! Guys, when do you all feel you are most creative? Natasha: Alone in a beautiful country on the beach, that’s when I feel most creative, away from everything and everyone. And listening to Brown Noise, I do feel creative then. April: I guess kind of when I’m looking at other people. Like other people’s work kind of gets your creative juices flowing. Especially other female artists, that kind of motivates me to be like, ‘yeah, they’re doing amazing, I want to do amazing as well’.
On that same note, when do you guys all feel the most energised? Beth: When I’ve done a wild week of working a madness, doing loads of clients and with lots of shit going on, at the end of it, I’m buzzing. Or at the end of the day of a shoot, I’m running around like crazy. It’s like that’s when I have energy, and then I’m like, ‘right, let’s go out’.
Do you have some advice for anyone that might be struggling with getting that energy and that creativity that we’ve all been talking about? Natasha: I’ll say one thing: never, never compare yourself to anyone else. Stay off social media. Sukera: Bit of a contrasting one, I am a disabled piercer, I also have two jobs and I’m a single parent. So, there are a lot of limits, there are a lot of boundaries, and there are a lot of things I have to break through. And I never thought I’d be able to be a piercer because of my health limitations, but when I did the training and got into it, I’m like, “do you know what, I can” and I want other people with health issues and stuff like that to know that they can do it too. You know, do it at your own pace, just have your vision and you’ll be good, just keep pushing. Manifest it, manifest it, manifest it. April: Also, adding onto that, it’s never too late to change your career and just because you’re a certain age and everyone else has been in the game for a lot longer, you can still do it and still smash it. It’s never too late to live your life.
Photography by Hassan Khan
Where do you guys actually go when you’re looking for that inspiration yourself? Everyone: Nature. Natasha: Nature, or art exhibitions. Just like places of solitude, I guess. London’s very hectic, so it is good to get some space. Like lavender fields are good for inspiration. We love a lavender field, and Kew Gardens as well. Sukera: I’m from Lewisham so I’m used to the crazy, I can kind of zone out. My garden is one place I go. My other job’s in Greenwich so the contrast from Peckham to Greenwich, it’s a nice diversity. So everywhere. Aubra: I meditate and I also go to quite a lot of sound baths, probably has the adverse effect because you’re meant to shut off but for me, that’s an hour of lining up my chakras. But personally, that’s where I find a little bit of solitude in my own head and I come up with nice ideas. And then I call Beth straight after. Beth: I actually find driving so therapeutic! I passed my test in November and it was the one time where I could go to my lessons and I can’t think about the salon and I can’t think about work. I’ve got to concentrate on driving right? It’s the one time I fully think I stopped thinking about a salon ever in my whole entire life.
Finally, you are all obviously very energetic and you’ve got to be like that with your clients. But do you ever get to that point in the day where you’re just not feeling it and you feel the pressure to put on a brave face? And if so, how do you deal with that pressure? Natasha: Beth is amazing at that. I look up to it because I can’t do that. But she’s so dedicated. Sometimes I’ll be dead and then I’ll be like, “Oh, but Beth’s doing it”, and she’s been like running the salon, so. But sometimes, it depends on your relationship with your clients, but a lot of my returning clients know my energy, and we’ll just be like, ‘Should we just not talk today’? So it’s just having that comfortability and not forcing energy. Beth: I second what you just said about clients’ energies. I think also, it is important to read different clients’ energies and things like that. April: I also found as well, like they’re obviously kind but they’re not just your clients, sometimes you do become friends with them. Everyone gets to open up. Natasha: Like having jokes between us really sets a good vibe. Beth: That’s why I created a collective, guys. A collective of all different people all different creatives. Natasha: To work with people or like be a beauty therapist or nail technician, it’s really important to be an empath because people are vulnerable around you and you have to be like understanding.