Profiles

On My Mind: A Life-Changing Experience

NAILS Next Top Nail Artist 2014 winner Ryoko Garcia shares her thoughts on how winning the nail art contest changed her life.

Entering NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition changed my life. And it almost didn’t happen.

I have been a competitor for my entire career. And two years ago, the ad for NAILS Next Top Nail Artist caught my attention. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. I was reluctant because it was a different format from the other competitions I was used to entering. One of the requirements was to make a video diary explaining why I should be NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. When it comes to making videos, I’m shy when I have to talk on camera. English is my second language and I don’t always feel confident that I can get my point across. Even though it’s scary to challenge yourself, I knew this competition could take my career to the next level.

Being a contestant in NAILS Next Top Nail Artist wasn’t easy. I sacrificed a lot of time away from my regular family life. I spent every minute of my free time working on the weekly challenges and dedicating it to the competition. Since we had a week to turn in each assignment, it meant every free minute from Monday through Sunday, day and night, was spent working on the weekly challenges. I had to work hard and completely dedicate myself to each task.

I always write down my goals and dreams in a notebook. Sure, this level of competition can be a lot of work, but it’s also important to enjoy it as you go or it could frustrate you and make you lose sight of your goal. So I looked at my notebook every time I started to feel frustrated or thought it might be too much to handle. As it turns out, dreams really do come true.

I wouldn’t be here today without the support I received from my family (especially my husband) and friends. I’m so thankful that I took a leap of faith and entered the competition last year.

After I won NAILS Next Top Nail Artist, so many doors opened up for me. At first, it was evident through my social media accounts. (Even during the middle of the competition, our designs were exposed everywhere through social media. All of the sponsors were watching us. This type of exposure and the publicity is always great and exciting.) I started gaining new fans and followers at a rapid pace and I was kept busy replying to many requests and questions. After that, my opportunities began to expand. I had already been flown out to California to do a cover of NAILS and to attend the party to find out who won. And a few months later, Gelish flew me out again to do a nail design for their fall ads. I’ve since returned to do another shoot as well. Kiss Products asked me to create a line of designs to put on their pre-designed nail tips to sell. And now here I am as a judge in this year’s competition.

But it’s not just the glory and prizes that I’ve benefited from. I’ve said it before: Competition is the best way to improve your skills. Preparing and practicing for competitions allowed me to work faster and better in my salon work. I even developed new techniques in the process. Competition pushes you to think outside of the box and also to work toward perfecting your craft.

There’s always going to be someone who is doing something better than you. Really. Everyone has a different point of view and it’s good to listen to other people’s opinions. Never stop learning from what others around you are doing. You don’t get success without failure. No one starts off competing as a champion. I’ve lost many more times than I’ve won. That’s how I can keep myself humble.

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