The Hottest Show in Las Vegas

Show attendees were abuzz with the announcement of Top Gun, NAILS Magazine Show’s newest competition.

Watch out, Siegfried and Roy – the NAILS Magazine show in Las Vegas dazzled attendees with education, demonstration, and fun in the spotlight, 80 nail competitors vied for top 10 competitions.

Deep in the darkened interiors of Caesar’s Palace, excitement was at a fewer pitch. Did someone with the $8 million dollar jackpot? Was in the sight of Tony Bennett in concert? No, and no. The excitement came from the nail technicians, salon owners, and cosmetology students at the NAILS Magazine Las Vegas show, June 24-26.

“We’re always growing and always trying to make our shows the best.” Says Cyndy Drummey, editor/publisher of NAILS Magazine, “We think our efforts paid off.” For example, show attendees were abuzz with the announcement of Top Gun, NAILS Magazine Show’s newest competition. Top Gun gives manufacturers the chance to compete against each other in acrylic tip and overlay technique, using educators, sponsored competitors, or representative of the company as contenders. Each company is also encouraged to have two “coaches” to bolster team spirit. Tom Bachik, then an educator for EZ Flow, won first place in this year’s Top Gun. All awards for Sunday’s competitions were announced that evening in midst of Beach bash ’95, complete with surfboards, beach balls, and a huge great white shark hovering near the deejay stage. And for the first time NAILS Magazine Shows sponsored its own Judge’s Network, a certification program that will be required class for all future NAILS Magazine Show competition judges. “We want to assure competitors that their work is being judged by qualified individuals. Before our certification program, there wasn’t any program in place that would accomplish this,” says Ambur Rae, assistant show manager.

Activity began early Saturday morning, as exhibitors checked in and began setting up. Preparation for NAILS’ National Tour Competitions started early, too. Two classes, “Competition Workshop” and “The Competitive Edge,” were offered on Saturday for attendees interested in learning what it takes to become a competitor. Instructor Sharon Parker and educators from EZ Flow discussed what the judge look for in competition nails, the difference between salon nails and competition nails, and tricks the top nail competitors use to get an edge on other competitors. Parker showed score sheets, described each category, and explained exactly what the judges look for. She also provided tips, such as how to build a perfect C-curve based on the model’s nail shape.


The NAILS staff got a notepad full of good advice when they invited a group of attendees to take a part in a focus group and luncheon on Saturday afternoon. Nail technicians and salon owners discussed industry issues, sharing their opinion on sanitation standards in the salon, competing with discount salons, how they make product purchase decisions, and maintaining satisfied clients. They also had some good recommendations for the magazine, as well as strong opinions about nail art designs and cover appeal. “I look at NAILS as my bible,” says Linda Elmore of Lafayette, Ind. For the most part, the nail technicians in the group read their trade magazines cover to cover every month.

Another special set of readers formed the first-ever continuing education committee for the NAILS Industry Association (NIA), a non-profit association for nail technicians. The panel was assembled to discuss ways in which a certification program could be implemented through NIA, as well as a continuing education program. “We got some great ideas,” says Tanya Winch, NIA benefits coordinator. “Nail technicians want as much continuing education as they can get, and we’re responding to that.” The group also discussed ways to introduce the benefits of NIA membership to more nail technicians nationwide.


Continuing education was a big part of the NAILS Magazine Show on both Saturday and Monday. Paula Gilmore packed ‘em in with her popular “Putting Yourself on the Market” and “Booked Solid in 1995.” Gilmore offered do-it-yourself marketing kits made specifically for nail technicians, and she presented dozens of simple and low-cost ways to promote nail services.

Other business seminars including “Time Management,” “Developing a Business Plan and Budget,” “Maintaining Professionalism Through Customer Service,” “Career Networking ’95,” “How to Increase Your Client Base Through Effective Marketing,” and “Health and Safety Issues and the Law.”

On Monday, product technique classes featured nail art design, acrylic and fiberglass applications, and how to use drills properly. Later on, Susan Goetzinger of the Digital Connection gave a six-hour reflexology course that offered certification for students who successfully completed the course.


Education was high on every one’s priority list at the NAILS show, but so was watching and participating in the nail competitions. Starting Sunday morning, competition judge Carol Frey, Krise Hliboki, Carmen Martin, Beverly Powell, Nilsene Privette, Katrina Rouillard, and Sara Wagner prepared for the approximately 80 nail technicians registered to compete. The Fantasy Nail Art competition with the theme “Viva Las Vegas,” produced four fabulous creations.

One model displayed dancing showgirls standing upright on each nail; another model was walking casino with playing cards, dice, and all sorts of gambling paraphernalia on her nails. A model dressed as a clown had “Circus Circus” figures prancing on her nails, and one artist covered it all: 10 sculptured mascots from famous casinos. During the show, the models toured the exhibit hall showing off their nail-sized work of art. Overseeing the competition were sages Sandra Bibiano and Beverly Powell.

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