We paired techs with opposite career experiences and gave them the chance to interview each other. Each tech asked and answered questions about what it was like to be on her side of the table.
Touching people’s feet day-in and day-out is part of every nail tech’s job… or is it? Iris Ball, a pedicure-only tech, has made working on feet her only job. Here, she trades questions and answers with Wendy Updegrave, a nail tech in Connecticut who just says “no” to pedicures.
No Pedicures/Pedicures Only
Iris Ball: Why don’t you do pedicures?
Wendy Updegrave: Quite simply, I have feet! I couldn’t wait for my own children to be old enough to clip their own toenails. Some people have a foot fetish, but I have a foot revulsion.
IB: How do you refuse or explain why you don’t do pedicures?
WU: Up until a few years ago, it was illegal for nail techs to do pedicures in Connecticut, so I was just following the law. Now, I tell people I just don’t do pedicures, and when I say that I don’t like feet, most agree with me.
IB: Is your choice warranted? Is there not a big following for pedicures there?
WU: Certainly it is warranted. I explained that if I did a pedicure I would not do good work because it is not something I am passionate about. People want pedicures mostly in the summer, but they understand that I won’t do them.
IB: If someone really wants a pedicure, what would it take for you to do it? What would they have to pay you?
WU: I have thought about that, but the truth is, I just couldn’t do it!
IB: If you were to do a pedicure, do you know what to do?
WU: I do know about health and sanitation issues, but I won’t be doing any pedicures. I even hate to do my own feet!
Wendy Updegrave: Why do you only do pedicures?
Iris Ball: I realized that when girls come in, it’s fun to make their feet pretty. I like to make a perfect foot. I like the challenge, and I’ve turned out to be pretty darned good at it.
WU: What is the grossest toe thing that has happened to you?
IB: I can’t ever forget it! It was the first year I was in business. In 1989 this lady came in with cowboy boots on. She took her boots off, and she had no socks on. She had horse poop on her feet and under her toenails. “I was just cleaning the stables, and I like to do it barefoot,” she told me. That was about the worst experience I ever had.
WU: Have you ever refused to service a client due to nasty feet?
IB: No, I’ve never refused to do one because of nasty feet. I have refused one for open sores though and recommend she see a podiatrist.
WU: How do you deal with foot odor and toe jam?
IB: I have this wonderful stuff called California Microantiseptic. If I get a little whiff, I just spray that on there, and we’re good to go. As for toe jam, it really doesn’t bother me anymore.
WU: Did the Watsonville or other national pedicure scares cause you to change your disinfection procedures at all? Did you lose or gain clients because of these events?
IB: No. I have always worked in shops that were overly sensitive about safety and sanitation. Even in the 1980s we were up on the latest things. I’ve never worked in a shop that wasn’t totally into sanitation.