It all started with bacon.
Before Melissa Osburn brought those glorified strips of pork product into The Daily Nail (daily-nail.blogspot.com), a blog chronicling her mission to paint her fingernails with a different design every day for an entire year, only a handful of people were reading, but after she dedicated her cuticles to bacon, everything changed.
Those red, pink and white squiggles led to a mention on popular blog Geekologie, and "every bacon-related website on the planet," Osburn jokes. Buzz started. Allure, an MTV blog and other media mentions followed. Now, the 28-year-old has a steady stream of readers—peaking at 120,000 hits on one day, after a Brazilian paper mentioned her on its site.
In honor of her new Brazilian fanbase, she painted the country's flag on her nails. She's also done cheeseburgers, crime scenes (called crimi-nails!) and sock monkeys. Under the weather with a cold, she went with a bubonic plague look. Chippendales, Scrabble pieces and Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe have also made tiny appearances. The time it takes to complete the nails varies, up to two hours sometimes, but the result is worth it.
"I love doing things that other people wouldn't consider," she says. "It's the cheapest accessory you can have. You don't have to worry about it not fitting. Or losing it."
Justifying her 70 bottles of nail polish was one of the inspirations for The Daily Nail (the movie Julie & Julia was another). Little did the amateur nail artist realize her collection would skyrocket to 500 bottles in half a year.
"I never thought it would get even this big," Osburn concedes. "It was just another one of my harebrained ideas."
The Michigan transplant is full of those — not all of which she's followed through on as strongly as her nail blog. Osburn says she's stuck with this blog because its readers keep her going. "I start to get e-mails if I haven't posted a blog by 8 p.m.," she says, "but I've said before, 'Life comes before nails.'"
A graphic designer, Osburn moved to Vegas two years ago after falling for the city while on a free vacation she won during a costume competition in Michigan. (She was dressed as the Venus de Milo—lots of body paint and a sheet.) Three weeks ago she was laid off from a job designing graphics for slot machines.
"I'm looking at this as an opportunity," she says, adding that she's considering going to culinary school to become a pastry chef. ("I hate cooking," she says. "I spend more on nail polish than I do on food.") She's designed custom birthday and wedding cakes for friends, some of which she's posted alongside her nails on her blog.
As for the obvious path—to beauty school to become a nail technician — she likes the thought of meeting new people in a salon environment, but she isn't sure she could handle doing French manicure after French manicure. "I don't do traditional nails," she says. "I do crazy shit."