What is it about a professional manicure that gets a client hooked? NAILS asked some satisfied salon clients to recount their first experience getting their nails done. Turns out, the reason they return often has as much to do with the tech as with the service itself.
Client: Carol E.
Nail Tech: Lisa Rockford
Salon: Trista’s Cutting Edge, Ottawa, Ill.
I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, artist, writer, and full-time caregiver for a disabled child. For 36 years my time has belonged to somebody else. This year, I made plans to attend a writers’ conference where I would mingle with other writers and meet for a one-on-one pitch with an agent. I didn’t want to go to the conference looking like a housewife and caregiver. I wanted to present myself in a professional manner.
Split, cracked, gnawed-off fingernails certainly wasn’t the look I was going for. I was already getting regular haircuts and hair color at Trista’s. While sitting in the chair getting my hair done I saw Lisa in the mirror and a light bulb went off.
I approached Lisa, showed her my hands and asked her if we could get them looking decent for the conference. She assured me we could. She was approachable and answered my questions. I felt positively pampered, something that doesn’t happen to me very often.
I started seeing her regularly, each time seeing improvement in the condition and appearance of my nails. A few more visits and all the damage from years of nail biting will be gone. I like seeing my hands look well-cared for. I love having lotion rubbed into my hands and the light massage feels good on my arthritic joints.
Most of all I like seeing my nails shaped, shiny, glossy, and healthy. They make me feel good. So good in fact, that I will soon be scheduling another first — a pedicure.
Client: Kim Underwood
Nail Tech: J. Annette Robinson
Salon: The Look Salon, Nashville, Tenn.
I started with acrylics then switched to fiberglass. My nails were always breaking before I started using fiberglass. My nails continue to stay healthy even after 15 years of wearing fiberglass and there is no discoloration. I get compliments every day on my nails. My grandmother told me as a teenager, “If a woman has her makeup, hair and nails done, it doesn’t matter her size, she is beautiful!” I have never forgotten it.
Through the years, I have developed a very special friendship with Annette. I can tell her anything. She always makes me feel beautiful. She is like family to me and I enjoy my visits with her. I appreciate all she does.
Client: Jean Veltri Simpson
Nail Tech: Lori Laskovics
Salon: Lori’s Nail & Tanning Boutique, Jefferson Hills, Pa.
Lori Laskovics has been my manicurist for 15 years now. I remember clearly why I decided to have my nails done and how I found Lori. I had a blind date approaching and a friend from work said I should get a French manicure for my date. I didn’t know anyone who went to a salon in my community who could give me a recommendation. So I looked in the Yellow Pages for the nearest salon. My appointment was with Lori and I have been going to her ever since. (I also married the man I met on that blind date! In fact, Lori not only did my nails for the wedding, but attended the wedding as my friend.)
Lori’s Southern charm and talent for manicures kept me coming back to her, not the salon. I was amazed that she could paint the white line so straight — freehand! I receive so many compliments from people. So when Lori left and opened her own shop, I went with her.
Lori is a wonderful person and an expert manicurist. When people ask me where I get my manicures, I don’t say Lori’s Nail and Tanning Boutique. I always say, “My friend, Lori, is a manicurist and has her own salon.” Every April I celebrate two anniversaries — my first date with my husband and my first manicure with Lori!
Client: Ruth Baxter
Nail Tech: Holly L. Schippers
Salon: FingerNailFixer, Bussey, Iowa
I started going to Holly in 2004. I had nails that were splitting and my daughter suggested going to a salon to have them done. I kept going because it was the only way I could keep my nails in good condition. I enjoyed the way they look and have gotten very nice compliments about them. I have really enjoyed Holly doing my nails. She is very special and does such nice work.
Client: Elizabeth “Bette” Rodriguez de Chavez
Nail Tech: Patty Lopez
Salon: Studio 24, Parral, Mexico
My mother treated me to my first manicure for my graduation when I was 18. The painted French manicure changed my life. I realized my hands were very pretty and I was hooked. I’ve had manicures for 22 years now and in fact, 20 years ago, I opened a women’s beauty product store (Yitzar Beauty Products) in my little town so that all women could enjoy feeling — and being — beautiful.
Client: Betsy Berry
Nail Tech: Rebecca Bence
Salon: The Salon at Saks Fifth Avenue and Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas
I’m not sure I could recall the first professional manicure I ever got, but I can certainly remember my first time with Becky Bence. Becky has become a close friend and is also my go-to nail tech in whose skillful, loving care I have now entrusted my nails for over a decade. Let me hasten to add that my natural nails are not one of my better physical attributes, but Becky does them up in such style that you wouldn’t know it. Instead you would notice the subtlety of her precise, excellent work — and how it sets off my jewelry, which is what drove me to seek nail help in the first place. The result, I think, is that well-manicured look that, for me, always connotes self-confidence and sophistication.
We never think about how much people notice our hands, even as we express ourselves with them while talking, greeting people, or, as in my case, teaching with them. (I am a professor at the University of Texas, and my nails and cuticles are often on magnified view on the doc cam big screen during large lecture classes.) Here’s how Becky transformed my paws from day one — wrestling my drier-than-desert cuticles with emollients and unguents, shaping my small fingernails and toenails just the way I like them, choosing the perfect polish color (when she applies it, it lasts, by gosh), and, my favorite part of any day, pampering with a hand and arm rub. On another point, I don’t know a single person besides myself who loves animals, especially cats, as much as Becky does. Combine that sparkling character aspect with a spot-on luxurious soak and massage, and one could fall in love with their manicure — and their manicurist! I do, every time, and walk out of the salon looking like it too.
Client: Lorin Carpenter
Nail Tech: Faith Glionna
Salon: Cuticles Salon, Indialantic, Fla.
I managed a 10,000-sq.-ft. luxury salon and spa for five years, but working there did not afford me the time to actually take advantage of the many services. Occasionally I would get a manicure or a pedicure for a special occasion. When I left the spa and took a position running a medical practice for a plastic surgeon, I needed to look professional and “polished” on a daily basis. I tried Cuticles because it was close to my home and the prices were very reasonable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know the criteria for a high-quality manicure and pedicure. I was pleasantly surprised to find the service I received and the products used to perform my nail treatments were the same as the fancy spa, but for a third of the cost. And I was thrilled to later discover that the manicure and pedicure I received actually lasted longer! More than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the casual and intimate, yet professional, atmosphere. I was hooked! I now have a standing appointment first thing every Saturday morning and I wouldn’t miss it.
A Special Remembrance
Client: Paula Johnson
Nail Tech: Leona Adams
The year was 1991. Back when “big” hair was in, music videos still played on MTV, no one had cell phones, and we had yet to hear of the “Internet.” I was sweet 16 and getting ready for my very first homecoming. I had a bright red dress and of course I needed my nails to match. I received my very first manicure from my mother, Leona Adams, who was then training to be a nail tech. She always had such passion for the “art” of doing nails. Yes, I say “art” because to me it was truly an art form to watch her concentrate, keeping a steady hand, with every brush stroke trying her best to make simple polish perfection. I would watch transfixed as she painted each of my nails. It amazed me how anyone could paint a nail with only three strokes, never going back over the nail to perfect it. It was already perfect. I don’t think she realized at that time how her passion and skill inspired me. Or how very proud I was of her that even though she was a full grown adult with three kids, she never gave up on her dream to be what she always wanted to be: a nail technician. My mom was my personal inspiration (though as a teen I didn’t dare admit to it), and from that moment I was hooked on all things related to nails.
Later, my mom would come to do my nails for all my important moments, such as graduation and my wedding (she did an amazing sculpted pink-and-white chevron French). Before I gave birth to her first grandchild (my son Wesley), she gave me the most relaxing pedicure on my severely swollen feet. And even though I couldn’t see my polished toes without straining I knew it was perfect! Through nails, my mother and I connected on a deeper level and celebrated some of the most wonderful moments in each other’s lives.
Now I, myself, am a nail technician. This past November I got the most heartbreaking news that my mother wouldn’t be with us for much longer. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but they caught it too late; there was nothing they could do. They said she only had weeks at best to live and transferred her to a hospice for care in her final days. She was in Florida, I was in Colorado, and I immediately packed up my family and my things and we headed straight to her side to be near her, to comfort her, to see to her needs like she had always seen to mine. To brush her hair, polish a nail or two and to share yet another precious moment in life. I regret to say that my mother passed away on December 19, 2009, at age 51 and even though the last few months have been near unbearable without her and I miss her more than words could ever express, I know in my heart she is not completely gone because with every brush stroke, with every nail I do, I can still see her face, and the way she looked back when she gave me my very first manicure.