Owner and chief nail artist of Olyphant salon gains following online and off from unique, intricate designs


In the world of nail art, Bree Robak has clawed her way to the top thanks to her innate artistry and savvy social media marketing.

The 25-year-old owner of The 411 Studio in downtown Olyphant keeps a full book of clients who regularly visit for one-of-a-kind or trendy designs on their fingertips. And the photos of those nails have earned Robak an even larger audience on Instagram. Her @nailsbybreee page counts more than 23,500 followers, and the numbers continue to climb with each successive post. Her work also was featured in Inked magazine and on its popular social media pages.

Robak attended Mid Valley Secondary Center and studied cosmetology at Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County before graduating from Jolie Hair and Beauty Academy and earning her cosmetology license. After stints at a couple of area salons, she seized the unexpected opportunity to take over the salon at 411 Lackawanna Ave. in Olyphant, where she built a loyal clientele over the last two years as owner and chief nail artist.

SATELLITE F/B, Acrylic Stone
SATELLITE F/B, Acrylic Stone

“I always used to draw and paint and all sorts of crafty things,” Robak said. “I don’t really have time to do that anymore, but I definitely get to take it out on nails.”

In a typical day, Robak sees about five or six sets of hands, for an average of between 30 to 40 full sets of nails completed each week. Most women return every two to three weeks. A full set usually starts around $50 but can go up to $80, depending on the intricacy of the design.

Robak also employs two other stylists who do hair (one also does nails), while her mom, Julie, serves as salon manager. In addition to a pair of hair chairs, pedicure stations and tables where Robak does gel manicures and hand-paints natural and acrylic nails, The 411 Studio also houses a small boutique that sells a custom line of beauty products — such as scrubs, body butters, bath bombs and sprays — called Bombd, curated by Jenna Stanish and Krysta Hannon out of the Wilkes-Barre area.

Making a name for herself among other long-established salons has been hard work, Robak admitted, though her nail art has helped to set her apart. When she took over the salon in August 2015, her Instagram followers numbered about 4,000, she said, but slowly grew from there as her work became more refined and gained attention through hashtags.

Irregular Diamond 2-SIDE Acrylic stone
Irregular Diamond 2-SIDE Acrylic stone
“Once in a while, I get a shout-out from a bigger account and pick up 100 (followers) here, 100 there,” she said. “I try to post every couple days, but I have to watermark photos so I get credit if people share them.”

For a time, local tattoo artist Ryan Ashley Malarkey, the first female winner of the reality show “Ink Master,” was a regular client of Robak’s, and nails she spent almost five hours designing for Malarkey were photographed and published in a profile in Inked magazine’s June/July 2015 edition. The following year around Halloween, Robak was asked back by the magazine to do a Facebook live tutorial and Q&A, and pictures and videos from the session were posted to Inked’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Apps like Pinterest and aspirational social media accounts have made beauty trends easier to track and more desirable for the perfect post, Robak said. She credits resources like Instagram for the booming nail art industry.

“I think social media has a lot to do with it, because I don’t think people knew the possibilities before or what’s trending,” she said. “So they see these ideas, and not everyone is artsy, but this is inspiration.”

Owning her own business is challenging but also affords Robak the freedom to do what she’s most passionate about, she said. Since graduating from beauty school, she has given up hairstyling in favor of doing nail art full-time.

“Nails are what I like doing. I prefer to hand-paint everything, and my favorite things I like to do are 3D, hand-sculpted from acrylic, filigree and beading,” Robak said. “It’s nice to be able to do my own thing and have my own ideas for the business. I have free reign.”

Nail trends

Here are 10 nail trends curated by salon owner Bree Robak, whose Instagram following continues to grow past the 23,000 mark as she posts the artfully handpainted designs she creates for local women at The 411 Studio in Olyphant.

Dark Victorian

“I do them because it’s my style. I love the look and the flow of it. It’s always unique because I never paint the same thing twice. It works for anyone who likes the elegance. It’s beautiful yet bold, and I could also lighten it up for someone who likes more of a soft and classic style/look such as for their wedding.”


“It’s new and stands out. It’s good for someone who just likes a little extra. The glow is glow acrylic powder, and could be used in so many ways. For example, you could use glow acrylic on all the nails or on a single accent nail. I used three different glow acrylic colors to complete the sunset pictured.”


“It’s rare to see on peoples nails because it’s challenging to make something artificial look natural. Some people are interested in getting it done because they’re drawn to nature and the natural healing properties of stones.”


“It’s art, like an original painting. It’s nothing that could be duplicated, like an image on a decal or a sticker. If a client comes in and they have an idea but don’t know how to portray it, that’s when the client and I collaborate ideas to make it our own certain style. If they wanted a particular image, I could try to duplicate it as well.”


“Hand sculpted from acrylic or gel, it’s hard to find, because not a lot of people specialize in it. For someone who wants something over-the-top or exaggerated.”


“It’s popular because people can relate to it, whether it’s a band, movie or a TV show. This works for someone looking for a certain theme or special occasion.”


“People love shiny things. Anyone who grew up in the ‘90s loves anything that brings them back to the time of chrome pog, slammers and Lisa Frank holographic stickers. It’s good for anyone who wants to stand out and have their nails to be seen.”


Diamonds are a girl’s best friend! There’s nothing more glitz and glam than gems and Swarovski crystals. Beautiful and classy, this can be worn anytime or that special occasion.”

Encapsulated glitter

“Like the crystals, it can be worn every day or dressed up for a special occasion. The popular way it’s worn is on a couple of accent nails that go with the corresponding nail art to complete the set, or on all nails. Glitter inside the acrylic makes it look as though it’s floating within the nail. There are so many unique variations of glitter mixes, from the color to shapes and sizes.”

Majestic unicorns and mermaids

“Who doesn’t want to be a mermaid or have a unicorn? They’re just so magical, and everyone wants to be magical. My clients and I have so much fun making magic with gems, crystals, glitter and hand-sculpted 3D art. Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. That’s the real magic.”

Meet Bree Robak

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