Profiles

Beyond the Salon: Alternative Career Paths for Nail Techs

If you want to explore options other than traditional salon work, consider these six non-salon jobs that are still all about nails.

Pedi-care for Seniors

Brenda Ribble, Fort Myers, Fla.

Her story: I had recently retired from a career spanning over 30 years in nursing with a specialization in vascular, cardiac care, wound care, and diabetes management of the elderly. It was a stressful, life- and limb-saving environment, so I thought working in a salon doing manicures and pedicures for seniors would be a nice transition. I began taking classes shortly after finishing my nail program, which increased my knowledge of advanced pedicure techniques, and I recently graduated from the International University School of Medicine with a Bachelor of Science in Podology.

Challenges and rewards: My clientele is limited to physician referrals only because I teach for the North American School of Podology (NASP) and am a brand educator for Footlogix. Seniors’ skin is much more sensitive, so care needs to be taken when working with sharp tools, aggressive e-file bits, callus eliminators, or high-heat therapies. My job is rewarding because I’m able to help clients with long-term foot and nail issues.

Her advice: If you pursue this path, you’ll need to be particularly careful with your clients, such as asking your clients if they are diabetic, take blood thinners, or suffer from any allergies. Pedicuring the mature client is rewarding as well as challenging, and this is only a glimpse into the world of pedi-care for the senior client.

 

Nail Artist on Sets and Photo Shoots

Reina Santos, Los Angeles

Her story: I started to create nail art on my own nails as a hobby after long stressful days at work back in 2012. I instantly fell in love because of the endless designs you can create on such small canvases. I started a nail account on Instagram and I began to network on social media. In 2013, Jenna Hipp reached out to me to swatch her new 5-free collection after I posted a nail photo using her polish, and I discovered a whole new world: the editorial side of the nail industry. Jenna and I became great friends and she asked me to join the nail artist agency Nailing Hollywood. It was a dream come true to join a team full of talented artists, and especially to work on set with celebrities. Last year, I relocated from the Bay Area to Los Angeles to pursue my passion and dreams of working on set as a celebrity nail stylist.

Challenges and rewards: One challenge is carrying around all your equipment, which can be heavy! There are long hours and many different personality types, so you always have to be friendly and positive. While working on set, I get to be a part of amazing projects and photo shoots and work with incredibly talented teams, and I really love the people I work with.

Her advice: Any nail tech interested in working on set should create a professional portfolio of her best work. Reach out to agencies directly. Network with other celebrity nail artists, photographers, and stylists. Word of mouth and referrals can get you very far!

Medical Nail Tech

Christina Riforgiate, Yorkville, Ill.

Her story: I had an at-home nail business, but I had just become a single mom and wanted to earn more money. I started reading about the Nail Academy and I was frightened by the amount of information that I didn’t know within the world of nail health, so I decided to take the medical training. A former client helped me get my current job, where I’ve been since 2012. With my higher pay, I was able to get my own place and take care of my children. I’m glad I made the decision that I did.

Challenges and rewards: I would not want to go back to working in a regular salon because I am so much more educated about nail health than I was. Plus, I like teaching people about it. People look at me differently as a medical nail technician because of my understanding of different issues relating to anything from diabetes to fungi. Another huge plus is that my pay jumped tens of thousands of dollars from what I made as a salon tech. I’m more proud of what I do and I’m happier.

Her advice: I would recommend looking into going to the Nail Academy because it taught me everything I know and the staff encouraged me, giving me the confidence and tools I needed to go into podiatry. The school faculty helps and mentors you, and that’s what got me through it.

 

Mobile Manicurist for Events

Diane Diaz, Chicago

Her story: After jumping from salon to salon in search of a high standard of care, I decided to take control, branch out on my own, and booth rent. I partnered with a startup mobile beauty app and found myself doing more mobile services, and it occurred to me: Why pay rent? Eventually, I left the mobile app and decided to start my own business, now called Canvas Nail Studio. We provide on-site services for individuals, stores, and corporate events.

Challenges and rewards: As a one-woman show, it can be a bit lonely at times when planning and working from home. Keeping the focus on why you started in the first place is important. You are not only a nail professional, you are also a business owner. I have a different office every day and continuously meet new people. Since I am creating an environment for people to feel pampered and appreciated, there is always a fun, positive atmosphere.

Her advice: Find a mobile-friendly bag — Zuca Pro Artist is my favorite. Start with friends and family and travel to their homes or offices to get your feet wet. If you realize you enjoy the mobile experience, then move on to the next step, and partner up with a beauty app service in your area to get a feel for the corporate side of mobile beauty services for events. Patience, consistency, and focus are key.

YouTube Blogger

Kristy Meakin, Stoke-on-Trent, England

Her story: Over the past 20 years, I’ve been a nail tech and a salon owner, I’ve delivered classes and seminars, and I’ve won over 100 nail competitions, travelling the world all for the love of nails. I needed a change in direction and wanted more diversity. When Naio Nails first asked me to present their YouTube channel, I never expected it to take me to almost a million subscribers. 

Challenges and rewards: Sometimes I receive negative comments on YouTube, but you can’t take that to heart. It’s also great to see all of my supporters defending me. The most positive part of being a YouTuber is the feeling I get from interacting with the viewers. I feel a sense of achievement from all the amazing comments I read and it’s really heartwarming to feel like I’m helping so many people. I love coming up with new designs to film and it’s always exciting to create something new.

Her advice: Remember to be patient because it takes time to build a YouTube channel. If you want to work for a brand, then you need to get out there and make those brands know your talent. And aside from talent as a tech, it’s important to have a big personality on camera. I’ve been able to be myself on camera and I can be as silly as I like. Being myself on camera makes filming so much more fun.

Nail Instructor

Jessica Taylor, Honolulu

Her story: I attended beauty school in the ‘80s, but I left because I didn’t love hair, which was the focus back then. I started working as an insurance agent, and I noticed the girls in my office had such beautiful nails. I started getting my nails done with them. One day, my new tech told me she was moving away and asked if I would be interested in doing nails so I could take over her clientele. She trained me before she left and I took over her clientele, immersing myself in all things nails. I had a desire to share what I was learning and I saw an ad in the local newspaper advertising a nails-only learning center, so I called and asked if they were in need of an instructor. Twelve years later, I’m still with the Honolulu Nail Academy with over 600 students graduated. 

Challenges and rewards: You must have a desire to work closely with people from all walks of life and from diverse cultural backgrounds. You’ll also need to communicate the same information to different styles of learners, whether it’s verbal, visual, physical, and so on. The instructor must creatively adapt when addressing each student’s needs. 

Challenges and rewards: Experiencing the many different cultural backgrounds, learning styles, and personality types of my students in the beginning was a bit daunting, because you never know how everyone will mix. But it’s amazing to have a role in a person’s education.

I love those “aha moments” for students. It’s the best feeling for me. I have a passion for this industry and I am grateful that I am in a position to share it with amazing individuals and enrich others’ lives.

Her advice: You must have a desire to work closely with people from all walks of life and from diverse cultural backgrounds. You’ll also need to communicate the same information to different styles of learners, whether it’s verbal, visual, physical, and so on. The instructor must creatively adapt when addressing each student’s needs.

Manufacturer's Educator

Danielle Candido, Jackson, N.J.

Her story: I became a nail technician in my mid-30s because I needed a job with flexibility for a family of five. Over the past 20 years, I have been on a journey to improve my skills and share my passion with others. I started having problems with a product, so I called the manufacturer directly, not holding out much hope that anyone would get back to me. To my surprise, I received a phone call from an educator, who patiently answered all my questions. Because of this experience, I soon after took a leap of faith and became an instructor for a then-unknown brand called Gelish. Today, I am the regional manager of education.

Challenges and rewards: Working as an educator is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. Traveling and show life are not for the faint of heart, but there is so much benefit to being an educator, not the least of which is the training you get. When I started out, I didn’t realize what an incredibly fulfilling career it would turn into. You are exposed to the most talented, generous, passionate, and supportive community of nail professionals from all over the world.

Her advice: Attend tradeshows and events and take advantage of the opportunity to speak to the educators about their brand. Find the company and product that fits you best. Which brand’s educator took time to answer your questions, rather than rushing to sell you something? Who asked you questions as well? Who made you feel like you were being taken seriously? Who respected other brands? Those brands will have the best education and educators.

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment

Name:
Email:
Comment:
Submit

Comments (0)

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All

VietSALON

FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Loading...
 
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today