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Roundup: What did you learn in your first month out of nail school?

Your students have spent months in nail school and finally graduated; they’ve studied long and hard for the state board and passed it — but are they truly prepared for the real world of nails? We asked veteran nail techs to divulge the most important thing they learned fresh out of school.

The most important thing I learned was how to start building a clientele and getting them to understand that a true, professional acrylic full-set service takes a lot longer than 20-30 minutes.
Brandy Franklin, High Maintenance Glam Dolls, Pittsburgh, Pa.

One thing I realized as a newbie nail tech was how varied the taste of your clientele can be. For example, I have a particular style that is my main focus and what I am good at, which is nail caviar and 3-D and abstract nail art. But I quickly realized not everyone likes it, so I started branching out into more subtle designs as well.
Elizabeth Fernandes, VLS Nails, Boston

When I first became a nail tech 25 years ago, I was a nervous wreck! I was shy and quiet until I realized that I could be confident in my work because I was a trained professional. I knew what I was doing and the client didn’t know how new I was.
Kathleen M. M. Ringwood-Wood, My Nails Rock!, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Act like you know what you’re doing! Never tell your clients that you’re a newbie.
Crystal Grimes, Freelance, Saint Peters, Mo.

Practicing every single day will increase your speed! A three-hour full set won’t take you that long if you constantly practice to increase and perfect your style.
Victoria Zegarelli, Nail Bar Lounge, Hauppauge, N.Y.

I learned that school does not prepare you for the real world work environment. However, fervor for continued education coupled with clear, focused enthusiasm for your craft will embolden you to reach out and attain your goals, keeping you on the path to success!
LeVonne King, LeVonne de Spa, Waterford, Mich.

Align yourself with a mentor. Provide the service you’d want to receive. Although you’re licensed, your true learning starts now.
Jacquie Smith, Nails by Jacquie, Monee, Ill.

The most important thing I learned was to implement policies such as last-minute cancellation, no-show, late, no children, etc. Make sure you stick to your policies and that all your clients are aware of them in advance. This leads to a better client/nail technician relationship, in my opinion.
Talia Scherer, Sculpted Gel Nails by Talia, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Working in a high-volume salon taught me the importance of being aware of your timing. Learning to eliminate unnecessary steps and stop second-guessing myself helped keep my whole day on track.
Danielle Lubin, Vito Mazza Salon & Spa, Woodbridge, N.J.

The majority of clients don’t know what a “perfect” set of nails looks like, so it’s okay to have slight flaws in your work in the beginning. The key is learning from your mistakes and always being open to learning new techniques.
Tanya Dangl, Nails by Tanya, Ontario, Canada

The most important thing I learned as a newbie in the salon industry is the importance of developing and building relationships with your clients. Getting to know who you’re servicing is one of the most important lessons because once a relationship is developed and the client trusts you, they’re more likely to spread the word about the quality of your work, thus helping you build your clientele.
Mimi Wilson, Ten Over Ten Salon, New York

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The portion of a nail service, usually an acrylic service, that focuses on reducing the moisture and oils on the natural nail so that a tip or...
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