Christine Derr, Trendsetter Tech in Hall of Fame

While still in school, Derr took first place in the academy’s student nail art competition and in 1988, she won first place in the professional nail division at the NCA's national championship in Atlanta.

The Pittsburgh Beauty Academy would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for its Hall of Fame than 1986 graduate Christine A. Derr. While still in school, Derr took first place in the academy’s student nail art competition. In 1988, she won first place in the professional nail division at the National Cosmetology Association’s (NCA) national championships in Atlanta, Ga. Since 1990, Derr has served as an official judge for nail competitions at the International Beauty Show. She will be the chairwoman for the nail competitions at the International Beauty Show to be held March 12-15 in New York City. Derr was chosen as a trend designer for the NCA’s spring and summer 1994 nail trends. For the trend, named “Tapestry,” Derr will be cre­ating designs for children, easily executed tricolor designs, and an elegant golden-thread design.

Beyond trendsetting, Derr is into the practical side of doing nails. She and her husband had been considering making a video on nail techniques when one day her brother-in-law, a landscaper, came over with a toenail he needed reconstructed. (He had dropped a cement block on it!) “I said, ‘This is too good not to get on camera,’ so my husband videotaped me reconstructing the toenail. This was the push we needed to finally do the video,” says Derr.

The 90-minute video, Christine Derr’s Tips on Nails, covers nail technique basics; problem-solving for acrylics, wraps, and tips; and toenail reconstruction.

Derr credits an instructor at beauty school for inspiring her to choose nails as a career. “It was the last month of school and I still couldn’t cut hair,” says Derr. “An instructor talked me into competing for nails and I won first place. After the nail competition, the school asked me to teach manicuring and nail design.” Derr taught at the school for two years. When she met her future husband, the owner of Hair Craft and Nail Craft in Gilbertsville, Pa., she began working in his salon as the sole manicurist.

What is Derr’s advice to nail technicians who want to soar to the top in their career? “Do one thing and do it better than anyone else,” says Derr. “I think talent and perseverance are extremely important. But positive thinking and a sense of humor are absolutely essential in this field,” she says.

With all these accomplishments, it came as no surprise that Derr was inducted into the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy’s Hall of Fame recently at the school’s 15th anniversary celebration of its alumni association. According to Art DeConciliis, director of the graduate division at the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy, being inducted into the school’s hall of fame is a high honor. “To become a candidate for the hall of fame, an individual must, of course, be a graduate of the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy, and she must be out in the industry at least five years. She must have made a major contribution in her area of study on a national level,” he says. Then the school’s Alumni Board of Directors, a 12-member board of salon owners and managers who graduated from PBA, vote on the candidate. “Christine was an excellent instructor and competition director here,” DeConciliis says. As director of training of the school of manicuring and nail design, she trained students who were going into specialized competition.

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