Profiles

On My Mind: Lessons From a Legend

NAILS editor Hannah Lee shares her memories of industry icon Vicki Peters.

Vicki was a constant at every trade show. (Here we are at Premiere Orlando with Marilyn Garcia and Gina Silvestro.)
<p>Vicki was a constant at every trade show. (Here we are at Premiere Orlando with Marilyn Garcia and Gina Silvestro.)</p>

When I first started at NAILS 16 years ago, admittedly I knew basically nothing about the nail industry. I came with a background in magazines and learned about the world of nails through immersion. I read through NAILS’ own archives, talked to readers, met with manufacturers, went to trade shows and classes. Many of the well-known nail techs back in the day were on the competition circuit — Tom Holcomb, Tom Bachik, Lorena Marquez, Amy Becker, Trang Nguyen, Gari-Dawn Tingler, John Hauk. I got to meet and work with many of these top techs right off the bat.

But there was one person everyone seemed to know who I hadn’t yet met, and that was Vicki Peters. I heard she’d been an early competitor at nail shows and that she’d even worked at NAILS running our competitions and trade shows back when we had them. She was a mentor to many and a long-time industry icon. But at the time, she was working for another magazine. So it was about five years before I actually met her in person. It wasn’t until she left the magazine world and started the manufacturing side of her career that I finally got the chance to get to know her. And once I did, she became one of my go-to resources.

Vicki worked for NAILS back in the early ‘90s, and she’s always been a friend to all of us here.
<p>Vicki worked for NAILS back in the early &lsquo;90s, and she&rsquo;s always been a friend to all of us here.</p>

When I needed a clarification on competition rules? Vicki was my girl. Information about electric filing safety? Vicki was my girl. Who’s the next up-and-coming star nail tech? Vicki was my girl. Need someone to tell me we weren’t covering something or someone adequately? Vicki was also my girl for that. She’d call, email, and text me with ideas for stories, covers, and people I should get to know, events or classes I should attend, and any other area where she thought we needed improvement. Her death hit me hard, as it obviously did you because reading so many of your stories about Vicki (which you’ll find on page 140 of this issue), I’ve come to know she was the go-to girl for everyone.

She truly wanted to see everyone put their best foot forward. She had a passion for this industry that you don’t see every day. She made friends with everyone. She was a mentor to many. She demanded perfection.

She loved to see others thrive. She trained countless nail competitors, even mentoring her own Team Vicki for a time. She was a frequent commenter in online forums and message boards from the beginning. She personally responded to techs who emailed her questions. She launched her own networking cruise (the latest of which is happening at press time in the third week of January in her honor).

Vicki and I watching Elaine Watson do a set of cover nails in 2010.
<p>Vicki and I watching Elaine Watson do a set of cover nails in 2010.</p>
She was at every networking event and trade show. She made connections. She told people what they needed to hear, even if they didn’t know they needed to hear it.

The nail industry lost a true legend on New Year’s Eve 2014. Vicki had only been diagnosed with cancer six weeks earlier and so many of us thought we had more time with her. The torch has been passed to us all — because it certainly will take more than one person to fill Vicki’s leopard-print sneakers. It’s up to all of us to keep her legend alive and continue her efforts through education. We must pass along her lessons to the newest members of our industry.

In 2006, she told me, “You don’t learn anything until you’ve taught it to somebody else.” Let this be a mantra for us all.

We will miss you, Vicki. Trade shows won’t ever be the same. I’ll miss your knowing smirk and your easy laugh. I’ll miss you giving me a hard time and bossing me around. I’ll miss your guidance and your friendship. But we are all lucky to have known you.

Go to www.nailsmag.com/vickipeters to read more tributes from many more industry folks.

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