Profiles

Yesterday, It All Seemed So Important

Nail technicians across the globe rallied together after the September attacks on the United States. In the wake of this tragedy; the industry has pulled together and gotten on with business, but not without stopping to care.

Nail design by Sue Ellen Schultes (New Jersey)
<p>Nail design by Sue Ellen Schultes (New Jersey)</p>

September 11, 2001: Unfortunately another date that will forever be emblazoned in our collective memories. I am sure that no one will soon forget where he or she was when the news was first heard. It was one of those mornings where I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I heard my phone ringing so I pulled myself up to answer it. It was a friend from the East Coast frantically telling me to turn on the television, that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

As I sat staring at the television in disbelief, it was the first time that I could use the word “surreal” and really understand its true meaning. I knew I had to get dressed and go to work, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to move. How could I go to work and write stories about fingernails with all that was going on? It seemed so unimportant at the time.

Nail design byKaren Hodges (Florida)
<p>Nail design byKaren Hodges (Florida)</p>

When I finally did get to the office, it wasn’t really to work, but more to surround myself with people going through the same thing I was. Radios blaring the latest goings-on were surrounded by small groups of people; computers were pulling up the latest developments on the Internet. I finally got through to New York sometime in the afternoon and found out that, luckily, all of my friends were safe and accounted for. Many weren’t so lucky.

Nail design byJo Laki (Pennsylvania)
<p>Nail design byJo Laki (Pennsylvania)</p>

It is not uncommon for people to question the importance of so many things that just a day earlier seemed monumental, but that now in light of the tragic events seem so trivial. Was the top story on the evening news on September 10 really about Mariah Carey going back to rehab? The weeks following the attacks were filled with statements like, “In light of the events, what I do seems so trivial.” Radio personalities said it, television personalities said it, we said it, nail technicians said it.

Nail design by Ellen Torchia (Washington)
<p>Nail design by Ellen Torchia (Washington)</p>

But what we do is not trivial — not what I do, not what you do. We have to continue to believe that our jobs — and our lives — are important. If not, how do we go on? So we aren’t on the front lines and we aren’t at Ground Zero, but we are doing our jobs and we should be proud of the feet that we have something to offer others. You can help by helping your clients begin rebuilding their daily lives.

Nail design byJanene Bushey (Ohio)
<p>Nail design byJanene Bushey (Ohio)</p>

Nail technicians’ jobs are multifaceted. You are service providers and in being so, you become caregivers. You are the ones who hold your clients’ hands each week. You sit face to face and share details of their lives. You are offering them a service of beauty, which to some may seem trivial. But making someone feel good about herself is not trivial.

On September 11, as terror unfolded across the na­tion and throughout the world, nail techs sitting at their computers from California to New York, from Australia to Dubai, from the Netherlands to Hong Kong, began reporting the events online as they happened. The concern and caring that each one of them showed through their messages indicated what we already know. Nail technicians, as a group, are emotional and caring.

Nail design byKristin Szilagyi (New Jersey)
<p>Nail design byKristin Szilagyi (New Jersey)</p>

In the days following the attacks, discussions were held about the importance of getting back to “life as normal.” Many people had concerns and issues with the fact that it was too soon to go on doing things as they normally had. Others disagreed, saying they felt the need to go back to work, the need to feel like they were doing something — anything — to keep their minds off what had happened.

We asked a number of nail techs to put it in perspective. Here, in their own words, are their responses.

United We Stand, Together We...Paint

Nail techs across the country were quick to lend a helping hand after the terrorist attacks, From coast to coast nail techs did their part in the relief efforts. Offering to paint American pride nail art on clients’ fingers for free and collecting donations seemed to be the most common idea. From the Stars and Stripes and ribbons, to New York City scenes, nail techs are getting in touch with their inner artists and creating personalized sources of national pride for their clients. The images on these pages were provided by the following artists.

Hansi Holloway (North Carolina)
<p>Hansi Holloway (North Carolina)</p>

“I do not feel that doing nails is trivial in light of what is going on. For the first day or two, I was not interested in doing nails at all due to the total shock of the events and the wonder­ing and arranging of assistance from our area. You see, I am a volunteer fire fighter and rescue squad member, so everything really hit home for me.

After I had a chance to regroup and get myself together, I went back to doing my paying job — nails. It was wonderful and therapeutic to sit and talk to all of the customers. I also found it lot of support and understanding on the BeautyTech list. We will never go on with life as normal and we will never forget. I still wait and wonder what will happen next.

Nails are my release and my therapy, as they seem to be for my customers. Business has picked up since this happened and the conversation stays the same for the most part—everyone wants to talk about what has happened to our country.”

Hansi Holloway, Nails By Hansi (Andrews, N.C.)

“For up to about a week after the attacks I felt that doing nails was trivial. I was not ready to move on I was in too much turmoil as were many others across the nation and all over the world. This was such a huge catastrophe. Healing starts at different levels, at different times, for different people. Immediately after the attacks, I wrote the following;

September 13, 2001 I wonder if it is too soon to get back to what color polish you like. I know that trying to go on with everyday life does help some people and I wish them welt. 1 saw on TV today a new mother holding a baby who was born right around the time the first plane collided into the building She held her new baby and said, ‘It’s time to move on Life goes on.’

I am sorry I can’t move on. I won’t tarnish the memories of those who died. So if the BeautyTech list is going to move on to nails, it’s doing it without me. I’ll be back later when I can deal with things such as polish.

September 28, 2001 —Yes, I do believe that our jobs are more than just assembly line nails, but our feelings of loss and how we cope are important too We have to be there for our clients and march on. My clients are all willing to talk and share information and feelings. Not one client said that we need to get on with life. I believe we as techs have to listen to our clients and go with the flow. They will talk, and we can listen, just follow the clients lead.”

Karol Singleton, www.nailtechentral.com, Pinellas Park, Fla.

“In the grand scheme of things as they stand right now, yes, in my opinion, doing nails is a trivial matter. But I must qualify that response with additional information. This is our job, our life. We, along with every citizen of the United States and every country affected, cannot crawl into a hole and stop living. We have bills to pay and families to feed, so life must proceed with as much normalcy as possible. Every time this country has seen hard times, the beauty industry may have swayed, but certainly never faltered Women kept up their appearances for their own mental state and to keep their spouses’ spirits high. Everyone says that at times of monetary lows, you should make sure you slate some funds for self-gratification, and that’s what women will choose. We need to keep our businesses open and running, and we need to keep our conversations light and upbeat.”

Debbie Doerrlamm, BeautyTech.com, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

Being that I live within 40 minutes of New York City, the attack on the World Trade Center has had a huge impact, not only on me and my family, but also on my clients.

Most of my clients have been with me for a number of years, and the relationships that 1 have developed with them go deeper than just being their nail tech. This has bees even more evident in the last few weeks. On September 11, I tried desperately to get in touch with the clients that 1 knew worked, or had family that worked, in and around the World Trade Center I had to make sure they were all safe and sound As with most places of business, the attack has been the major topic of conversation. I think that most nail techs will agree that although our services are the reason thatClients come to us, a bigger part of our .service is the ‘counselling’ that we give them. In a time like this when everyone is in shock, it’s very comforting to know that I can play a small part in helping my clients work through their sadness, shock, and anger by listening to them.

I have an excellent example, of how important our services have been. My sister-in-law is an emergency medical technician and she worked for three days at Ground Zero. When she finally left, she drove straight to her salon, covered in dust and grime, to get a manicure and pedicure. She felt that she needed to do something nice for herself after what she had witnessed.

I would like to think that t provide much more than nail services for my clients. I provide a comfortable environment where they can get away from the chaos, and discuss what s on their minds if they feel ‘the need. So in my mind our careers as nail technicians will never be trivial”

Alice Wallace, ChrisDee’s Inc., Metuchen, N.J.

“The first major news story to break since I began doing nails was the Los Angeles riots. I was living in Los Angeles County at the time. Bach time there has been a major news story that has captivated the community since I have been working in salons. I have seen how important we really are to people.

Maggie Franklin (California)
<p>Maggie Franklin (California)</p>

It gives people a sense of community to keep their regular appointments—to come into the salon and share their thoughts, fears, grief, and anguish. We are a support group for our clients.

I have watched so many of these incidents on TV or listened on the radio with clients and coworkers as events unfolded. Our businesses are places where people feel safe and embraced, and being with us in times of stress gives them a sense of normalcy, as though something can still be counted on.

We are not merely nail techs, we are counsellors, confidants, and friends to our clients. Our jobs are anythingbuttrivial to the people who are reaching out for something to hold on to so that they know everything will be OK. We have to become part of other people’s attempts to get on with their lives—part of the healing process for many.

If I were to hang a sign on my door saying ‘Closed due to current events,’ I would not only lose business that I need in order to pay my bills, I would betray ray clients faith in me and add to their sense of chaos.

So I go to work every day and chat with my clients and try to give them what they need—a shoulder to cry on, a joke to keep them smiling, or a story to take their mind off their troubles. I’m there for the people who heed me and they are there for me.

Doing nails might seem trivial in the overall scheme of things, but my JOB is not. My job encompasses being so much more than simply a manicurist.”

Maggie Franklin, The Art of Nailz, Visalia, Calif.

Keywords:   Debbie Doerrlamm     Fourth of July nail art     Maggie Franklin     patriotic nail art     red-white-and-blue nail art     September 11  

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