To be called “Oprah’s personal pedicurist” is no small feat, but Gloria Williams — the warm, funny founder of Footnanny products, wears the title as the badge of honor it surely is. After the Queen of all media tweeted about her brand in 2012, begging to have a “Footnanny” in her life, Williams was swept up in a whirlwind, ultimately leading her to give Oprah a pedicure on the set of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Since then, Footnnany products have been made available almost everywhere. In 2018, Williams announced she brokered a deal with Costco to bring the best-selling products into the big box stores all over the country. She’s also working on a few different concepts, including an on-demand, subscription-based pedicure service. But Williams says that caring for people the way she does runs in the family.
“My mother — well, she was a healer of sorts in Alabama,” she told 21Ninety. “She was well known for helping people in our town. Many of the women in my family were.”
That down-home approach to care combined with Williams’ holistic approach to caring for your feet is evident in all of the Footnanny products. But despite its endorsements from one of the biggest celebrities in the world, you don’t have to go into debt to reap the rewards of these products.
21Ninety sat down with Williams recently, and she shared some simple tricks to caring for your feet that go above sitting in a pedicurist’s chair and tips for picking out your favorite color of nail polish. It turns out that caring for your feet can positively affect your total physical and mental health — and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Tip No. 1: Essential Oils
Williams says that good essential oils can positively affect your overall well-being when used on your feet. “I always have a few essential oils that I suggest to all my clients,” she said. “Things like lavender and peppermint can have a very calming effect on people. Tea tree oil, too, works well.”
But Williams also cautions that not every essential oil is for every person. “Make sure you familiarize yourself with the smell,” she said. “You may not like what you smell. Tea tree oil, for example, is one of those oils that people love or hate. So, you’d better smell it before you buy it because the last thing you want is to have a smell on you that you just don’t like.”
Tip No. 2: Paraffin Wax
Many nail shops have paraffin wax dips available for a premium price. While Williams acknowledges that things can be financially tight, especially in this day and age, she also emphasizes it’s important to treat yourself once in a while, especially if you suffer from certain foot afflictions.
“Black women, especially, tend to get dry feet,” she said. “Now, of course, you don’t need a paraffin wax treatment every day. But if you find that your feet are especially dry, or you have callouses, it’s important to get paraffin wax services.”
Williams suggests putting oil on your feet and lower legs before getting the paraffin wax service for maximum results. “This is especially helpful if you have callouses,” she said. “It will soften them and make them easier to reduce or remove.”
Tip No. 3: Reflexology
Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to specific points on your feet to reduce the effects of different ailments. While this practice is considered an “alternative medicine” practice, Williams says her clients enjoy it when she incorporates elements of reflexology into her pedicures.
“There’s a calming effect that applying pressure on certain points has. Overall, people leave feeling a lot better when reflexology is incorporated into their pedicures. It’s more than just turning on the massage chair. It’s about specific pressure points having positive effects on your well-being,” Williams explained.
Tip No. 4: Overall Self-Care And “Mental Health Days”
Even though Williams has a particular passion for pedicures, she believes that proper self-care involves more than just pampering your toes.
“I’ve always believed that pedicures are a necessity,” she said. “Because, you know, we work hard. And after this past year, we’ve realized how tired we are. But you know what? It’s about more than just pedicures. It’s about incorporating pedicures into your overall self-care routine. And that involves taking care of your mental well-being — yes, it’s okay to take a mental health day — and incorporating prayer and meditation into your everyday life. You don’t have to go into debt to take care of yourself, but taking care of yourself is not only essential, but it’s also worth every penny.”