Salon owner Renee Borowy talks about the positive outlook for nail techs.
My love and passion are nails and nail technicians. When I started doing nails in the early ’80s, nail salons were not even a viable, stand-alone business. There may have been a few small salons; however, they were very, very rare. Nail technicians were always tucked away in the “corner” of a salon — not the mainstay of the salon business. There may have been one tech in a salon, but you never saw an entire area dedicated to nail technicians.
The funny thing is that owners of salons really didn’t realize what they had in a nail technician. Mind you, I’m not talking about all owners, but most. Acrylic and porcelain were products that were gaining ground and manicures and pedicures were not as high a priority to book as hair services.
Fast forward through the years and we see that nail salons started thriving as stand-alone businesses. Discount salons started coming into play and it seemed that everyone had nails! Many of the hard-working nail technicians who couldn’t compete with discount salons dropped out of the business. The stand-alone nail technician could not compete with the discount salons’ price structures, convenience of walk-in appointments, products used (many were using MMA), and speed. I am not saying that technicians working in discount salons did not work hard, but they were a completely different entity that we were not accustomed to that seemed to be springing up everywhere. This led to the loss of nail technicians in the schools and the industry. Unless it was a discount salon, there were very few nails-only salons left to be found.
Today, there is a very positive outlook for the nail technician. Opportunities are better than ever. Education is rampant and many new services are being introduced to our profession. Pedicures barely existed in the ’80s, let alone whirlpool pedicure chairs. Pink-and-white enhancements were painted on with polish only. White powders were yet to be developed as we know them today. Pedicure scrubs, treatments, upgrades — all did not exist.
Today’s nail technician has the ability to book numbers as high or higher as hairdressers or estheticians in the world as we know it now. It is an exciting time for us. We have seen nail techs almost double their daily income some almost as high as $500 in a single day without tip income included in these numbers. With upgrades and equipment helping us out (whirlpool pedicure chairs, electric files, new gel-based products, etc.), we are able to work smarter and not harder. And, today we are looked at more as professionals than we ever were. If rebooked correctly, clients will come to see us weekly or two to three times a month, depending on the service. Clients’ fingernails and pedicures are just as important as having their hair done and in many instances they are more important than having their hair done. And yes, we see the client much more often.
This is why education is so important. Your clients need to know that you are investing in yourself so they know you are investing in them. It is also important to have the latest and greatest for them. Clients get bored (like we all do) and they appreciate you knowing about all of the new up-and-coming trends. If you are a nail technician who has left the industry or has not gone full force in the industry, I highly encourage you to try again. While the economy is in a tough place we are still finding that clients will spend the extra money to feel better. They may not be able to take that much-needed vacation, but at least we can help them lift their spirits and feel good about themselves!
Renee Borowy is the owner of VIP Salon & Spa in Riverview, Mich.