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Jessica OrbonJun 11, 2018, 8:18 pmJun 12, 2018, 2:18 pm

Long Nail Goddesses: A sisterhood that prides itself on being different

These 35 women spend countless hours keeping their tips extravagantly stylized

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NEWARK — The Long Nail Goddesses is a group of women from New Jersey who pride themselves for long, naturally grown nails that attract lots of attention.

"It's a sisterhood,” said Larue Drummond of Perth Amboy. “We understand each other when the world is against us. We have fun. We laugh, we talk. What looks crazy to somebody else is good to us."

All 35 women have nails longer and more decorative than the last, but the goddess with the longest nails is Drummond.

"I have a little saying and it goes, “They laugh at me because I'm different, and I laugh at them because they're all the same,'" she said.

Growing up, Drummond was a chronic nail biter, but at the age of 13, she decided to quit cold turkey in exchange for long healthy nails.

"I saw a lady whose nails were longer than this and she inspired me. She told me to take care of them, and that's what I did and here we are. I kept them at 3 inches most of my life because I was raising my kids, but once they were grown, I let them go," she said.

Drummond works from home, taking care of children. Her longest nail is 21 inches, but she says she does everything without a problem, except for one thing that takes the average person about 30 seconds.

"I do everything. The only thing that's a little bit slower is tying my shoes, but that's what I have my children for," she said.

These women come from all over to see Maria Ortiz, the woman behind the mega manicures. Ortiz is a nail technician at Zeyne's Unisex Salon in Newark and has decades of experience nailing intricate designs.

"I've been a nail tech for 23 years. But I started professionally doing long nails maybe 19 years ago," she said.

Ortiz says her clients come to see her every other week and pay upwards of $200 for bejeweled nails. But the most shocking part of these manicures aren't the jewels, charms, or colors. Rather, it’s how long they take to create.

"My client with the longest nails is Larue Drummond, and it takes me six to seven hours. My day off, I have to come in just for her," she said.

The women say their nails do make people stare, but Ortiz says she's had her own battle with getting negative attention and now her nails are a big part of her confidence.

"When you see something different, you're getting ready to mock,” Ortiz said. “Me, as a transgender, I've been through that and I'm teaching my girls that it's OK to be different and this is how we're different."

Looking to inspire others to go to great lengths for their signature looks, Ortiz wants to develop her own line of products specifically designed for long nails.

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