Like any 15-year-old teenager, Sarah Synder likes nail polish. The bright colors, different patterns and glitter let her express her personality. Plus, it’s fun, trendy and fights off teen boredom, she said.
“I love pink,” she said. “I like to do trendy things like Cheetah and Zebra prints.”
But Synder has a unique story. The Princeton Senior High School student said her biggest influence hasn’t been fashion magazines or celebrity makeup artists.
It was a young girl named Taylor Filorimo from Tennessee.
“We meet in my seventh grade year,” Synder said. “I was put into homeschooling and got involved in social media networks.”
Synder started following Filorimo on Twitter because the two shared an interest in Justin Bieber and his music.
“We started talking and then skyping (video chat). Then we gave each other our phone numbers,” she said.
Synder said it was like Filorimo was part of their family. The girls, who skped in the living room in the evenings, talked about everything.
After three months, they met in Washington, D.C., under unusual circumstances. Filorimo had a rare form of cancer called renal cell carcinoma. According to news reports from her hometown of Rutherford County, Tenn., she was the youngest known case in the U.S.
“She received treatment in Washington, D.C., and my mom and I went to see her,” Synder said. That was in 2009.
The next year, Synder visited her friend in Tennessee.
“I stayed a week and got to meet her entire family,” she said. “They were amazing people.”
Filorimo’s mom and aunt worked at a beauty store in Tennessee.
“She had all this nail polish and I got really interested,” she said.
The teenager started painting designs on her nails and trying the latest trends. She went back home, offering her support for Filorimo through Skype and other social networks. And she practiced her nail designs.
In July, she set up an Instagram account for her nail pictures. The online account allows users to share their lives through series of pictures, via mobile phones. Nail bloggers have started to notice her designs.
“I have 441 followers,” she said. “ I don’t have an iPhone, just an iPod. So in order to upload pictures to Instagram, I go through a complicated process. I take a picture with my mom’s camera. Then I upload them to our desktop. After that, I email them to myself. Then access my email from my iPod. I save the pictures from the email onto the iPod, and then go into a software on the iPod so I can add my watermark. That’s so if anyone tries to take my pictures, my name will be on it. I then upload to Instagram. The whole process takes awhile, but I think it’s worth it. I love the feedback I get.”
She is currently developing a blog to showcase her designs and plans to take classes in cosmetology at the Mercer County Technical Education Center next year.
Unfortunately, Filorimo passed away in September of 2012 at the age of 16. The brief friendship made an impression on Synder. She wants to explore areas of the medical field after high school graduation. Somehow she wants to combine nails and medicine, in honor of her friend.
“I am glad I got to meet her and tell her story,” Synder said.
Synder goes by Sarah Alexandria on Instagram.