Nail Art

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Jewel of the Nail

Challenge your creativity – and your client’s image – by adding nail charms to your repertoire.

Imagine your client doing what she does best – mixing cocktails, running a business meeting, playing the piano, dealing cards, typing, or serving airline passengers. People can’t keep their eyes off her hands. Not only are they perfectly manicured, but a small shine and sparkle keeps catching their attention. It’s the charm you encouraged her to wear – and she finds it expresses herself beautifully. If you don’t already offer your clients nail jewelry. You may not want to consider it. Not only is it a source of extra income, it also allows clients more options for nail design. So many different types of women wear nail charms that only one phrase characterizes them all. “Charms are for the woman who dares to be different.” Says Marlene Sortino, president of Snails Italian Jewelry in Miami Beach, Florida. “We sell to people on welfare to people in Beverly Hills. Everyone seems to think it’s an ethnic product, but we sell in Atlantic City and New York and also to people who live on farms in the Midwest.”

“In our industry, you’d love to be able to be really specific about the people who use your product,” says Joyce Bogen, president of Joyart Jewelry Company in Belmore, New York, “but in some parts of the country, you’re selling to a younger person. In other areas, you’re selling to an older person. The ethnic background, income level, and age of people who wear nail jewelry seems to vary. I think it depends on the salon itself – how they sell.”

Promoting Jewelry

There are as many ways to promote nail jewelry as there are clients, and you have to sell to all your clients if you’re serious about selling jewelry. Start by including nail jewelry in your advertising. “What’s really interesting is you always have new people in the industry,” says Bogen. “Because they’re new, they get excited by the charms. They pass that excitement on to their clients.”

Enthusiasm is a big help in selling nail jewelry, but an even better way is for clients to see the jewelry in action. “Wear it,” says Beverly Bennett, president of A Show of Hands in Meriden, Connecticut. “If you wear it, they’ll wear it.”

Or put charms on long tips for display. “There’s no way to show them,” says Maureen Volpe, president of Volpe Nails in Endicott, New York. “With 55 shops and 10 years of experience, I’ve discovered that the shops that wear or display the jewelry sell more jewelry. Put the charms on your own nails. If a client likes the charm I’m wearing, I’ll take it out of my nail and put it right into hers.”

Display a selection of charms at the table and talk to your clients about them. “The nail technician should have an inventory of jewelry on hand, because it’s an impulse item,” says Ed Caballero, president of Spirit of Love Nail Jewelers in Upland, California. “When clients are at the salon, the technician has them for half an hour to an hour. They have that time to sell them an item. If the client says, ‘Gee, I think I’d like a charm like yours,’ then she has it right there.”

The third step to a nail jewelry promotional program is to have a color catalog available. A catalog plus a sample of your work on your own nails allows the client to better visualize a charm on herself. “Clients can see the quality of the work and what it looks like on the technician’s nail and would have more confidence when ordering from the brochure,” says Caballero.

“You’ve got to have in stock what you want to sell,” says Volpe. “If you can only carry 12 designs, you should have the catalog at the nail technician’s desk with the prices clearly marked. When you order a charm for them, take half the money down so you have the money for the charm up front. If the customer doesn’t come back for the charm, you’ve at least covered the cost of the charm.”

When promoting nail jewelry, don’t forget that all kinds of people will wear jewelry. “Anyone wears it, if they like it,” Bennett points out. “Sometimes they’re afraid to try it because it’s different.” Your job, as the nail jewelry expert, is to encourage your clients.

“There are a lot of pieces available for those who are very discerning in their tastes,” says Bogen. “When I go into a corporate meeting I wear a stud, something fun, but something that shows I’m still a businesswoman. The styles of nail jewelry range from simple to extraordinary, from cute and flashy to pretty and elegant.” Any client interested in trying out a charm should be able to find something that suits her tastes, if not within your inventory, at least in a catalog. Suggest that she have a look while her polish is drying.

Attaching the Charms: Drilling and Applying

Study the nail. Once your client has chosen her design, you need to fit and apply the charm carefully. While some designs are polish-secured, most charms have a post on the back that fits through a hole drilled in the nail’s free edge – just as a stud earring fits into a pierced earlobe. “The technician should study the nail length and curve as well as the size and shape of the nail charm to decide if it will fit properly,” says Caballero. “The client may insist on wearing it on her pinkie, for example, but the charm may be too big or bulky.”

Decide where the hole is to go. “Take a look at the post position because some designs are long and have the post at one end,” says Bogen. The design should look balanced on the nail. If you’re using the charm as part of a nail art design, the position of the hole is especially important.

Drill the hole. “Drill the hole with the nail charm tool by hand, gently,” says Caballero. “If it’s drilled gently, there’s no danger of breaking or cracking the nail. Drill from the underside of the nail. If you drill on top, the drill can slip and scratch the polish.” Volpe recommends that technicians then flip into the hand over and drill carefully from the top to smooth the edges.

Fit the charms. This may be the most time-consuming part of the application, taking as long as 15-20 minutes. The charm must fit the nail as closely as possible for the nearest look and to eliminate snagging. “Sometimes you can bend a charm with your fingers, sometimes with tweezers, and sometimes you have to use jeweler’s pliers,” says Caballero. “The charm has to be adjusted off the nail. If it’s done on the nail, you can break the nail. You may go back and forth three or four times until you get it.”

Finish the nail. Insert the charm into the hole after the polish is dry and hard. Most manufacturers recommend that you use two nuts to secure the post. When the nuts are in place, trim the post with clippers, then grind it flush with the nuts with a metal file or an electric tool. Be sure to smooth any rough edges. Finally, apply a clear coat of polish to both the top and underside of the nail, making sure the nuts are sealed.

“Many technicians don’t cut the post all the way,” says Caballero. “You have to grind and smooth it or it’ll catch. When I’m at shows, I’ll see people who purchased nail jewelry, and the technician didn’t trim the post or apply the clear coat. It’s important to finish, trim, and grind the post smooth, and to apply the clear coat to the top and the underside. That way, the nail won’t snag on nylons, hair, or a sweater. The jewelry can be used a second time. With the two nuts, the post is still long enough of the nail is thicker the next time.”

Use glue on dangles. “The best way to put on a dangle is to drill a hole, put the ring through the hole, and put a drop of glue over the seam of the ring,” says Bennett. “Then put clear polish over the glue to keep it from oxidizing.” Rings can be linked together for a chain effect or draped between several holes in the nail.

When in doubt, ask questions. Instruction sheets are available from most manufacturers. In addition, some manufacturers sponsor classes in jewelry application at trade shows.

Creative Hints

Experiment with the different types of charms available. Dangles and chain rings offer clients alternatives to the traditional stud. “Right now the trend seems to be toward the dangling styles,” says Bogen.

“One of the most popular charms is the chain ring,” adds Caballero. “That’s a pinkie ring in 14-karat gold with the charm in the nail. Another popular charm is the nail tassel; that’s a charm with three chains that dangle from the nail.”

Use your imagination when applying nail jewelry. “We use the charms with nail art,” says Volpe. “For example, we’ll have a sunset on the water and then a gold dolphin leaping out of the water, or we’ll use a palm tree charm for one of the palm trees.

“What’s really nice is to paint a two-tone nail, red and black, put a gold stripe on it, and put the charm on the black side of the nail,” she continues.

“Black by itself is hideous, but it works well as a background to set off jewelry.” Design and create a few nail tips for display.

The client has more options than she probably realizes. For example, Snails Italian Jewelry will custom design initials for a “monogrammed” nail. And Joyart Jewelry Company will make their designs into other types of jewelry, such as earrings or tie tacks. Talk to manufacturers and suppliers about special services they provide. Help your client discover her options.

Finally, educate your clients. “People don’t remember that nail charms are still fine jewelry,” says Sortino. “They treat it roughly sometimes. But it has to be taken care of, and the technician should explain this.” Jewelry should be treated gently. Have your clients add a top coat every day to protect the charm. Have her check the post and nuts every day to be sure they’re tight. Finally, have her store the charm in a jewel case when she isn’t wearing it. Helping your client take care of her jewelry will increase her enjoyment of it.

Price Charms Accordingly

Manufacturers recommend that technicians sell charms at a 50% to 100% markup. Take into consideration that charms must be carefully fitted and applied, often a time-consuming task. If you make a mistake, you may have to patch a hole or reapply polish, so applying a charm takes some skill. “Technicians should at least double the charm’s cost, because it’s work to put the charms on and take them off. It takes work to fit them,” says Bennett.

“They can get whatever the market offers,” says Sortino. “One of my dealers can get $85 or $90 for charms that others can get only $20 for.”

The rule of thumb is to offer a fair retail price that makes jewelry an attractive buy, and allows you to make a profit. Take into consideration your salon’s location and the size and cost of the charm. “It’s a wonderful way to bring in extra income,” says Bogen.

Once you’ve introduced your client to nail jewelry, invite her to start a collection of charms – one for the business trip, one for a resort weekend, one for the holidays.

The following manufacturers contributed to this article: A Show of Hands (Meriden, CT), Joyart Jewelry Co. (Bellmore,NY), Snails Italian Jewelry (Miami Beach, FL), and Spirit of Love Nail Jewelers (Upland, CA). Nail jewelry provided by A Show of Hands, Joyart Jewelry Co., and Snails Italian Jewelry.

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