Profiles

A Sensational Second Career

Patti Smith, who, at age 58, still gets quite a kick from her second career — nails. Smith, owner of The Nail Suite in Mississauga, Ontario, began doing nails three years ago after her career as a chef was put on hold due to illness.

“Can you believe we get paid for this?” asks Patti Smith, who, at age 58, still gets quite a kick from her second career — nails. Smith, owner of The Nail Suite in Mississauga, Ontario, began doing nails three years ago after her career as a chef was put on hold due to illness. As an executive chef, she had the opportunity to cook for many famous people, including Princess Diana, Liberace, and Frank Sinatra. But then something went wrong. Smith developed a seizure disorder that required her to look for a new line of work.

The seizures continued to plague her through cosmetology school, and then stopped almost as suddenly as they started, was hooked on nails. “I’m fortunate to have had two passions in my life: cooking and nails. They’re not so different both take raw product and turn it into something quite beautiful,” she explains.

Smith now finds herself something of a role model for her older clientele, inspiring them to experiment with nail art. “I think it’s because of my age and not any special salesmanship that most of my clients, including reserved older women, will wear a little art. They see me with it and figure if that crazy woman can wear it and get away with it so can they.” Another plus to a nail career: “I never have to retire as long as I can still see and use my fingers,” says Smith.

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