Say Aloha to a Nail Pioneer

Kali Gregory can claim a small place in the history of nails.

As the person who first introduced fiberglass nails to Hawaii, nail technician Kali Gregory—owner of Kali’s Nail Connection & Beauty Supply in Kailua, Hawaii—can claim a small place in the history of nails. Of course you don’t wind up in the annals of nail care without vision and a willingness to take a few risks. A visit to the islands over a decade ago produced what Gregory terms a brainstorm.

“While I was there, I was constantly asked by the island ladies how I got my nails so long. I had to turn my hand over to prove they weren’t real.” It’s not that they hadn’t seen artificial nails, they just hadn’t seen fiberglass. “I went back to Denver, and my mind began working overtime,” explains Gregory. “I thought, ‘Why not distribute fiberglass in Hawaii?’“ So Gregory sold her business (she co- owned a nail salon in Denver), rented out her house, and moved “lock, stock and barrel” to the island of Oahu, not knowing a soul. That was 10 years ago, which makes this year the 10th anniversary of fiberglass nails in Hawaii. It wasn’t easy at first, says Gregory, who explains that the Hawaiians were understandably apprehensive of new technologies.

While the locals were quite familiar with fiberglass surfboards, nails was a different story. Still, persistence paid off for the native New Yorker. “I’d walk into a salon and say ‘Hi, my name is Kali. Have you ever heard of fiberglass nails?’ I began doing free demonstrations of different professional lines, and gained their confidence little by little.” Gregory’s efforts have been so successful, in fact, that she recently closed the full-service salon she had opened in Hawaii to devote her time exclusively to distribution and education.

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