In addition to salons, nail techs ply their trade in a range of locations — from military bases to senior homes — targeting different clientele across the world and bringing nail services to new markets.
With this economy, many nail techs have had to come up with new and clever ways to get their names out about their services into their communities, and for many nail techs who operate in out-of-the-norm locations, this can lead to interesting business plans. From nail techs who volunteer in local youth organizations, to techs who travel to senior homes or fashion shows, there are always ways to tap into a yet unseen clientele.
Cecilia Bustamante is currently working in Okinawa, Japan, serving a large clientele of military families stationed in the city. Bustamante has been stationed here with her husband Rogelio since 2009. “Other than Japanese people of course, Okinawa is mostly filled with bases of different military branches that are home for many U.S. military families,” says Bustamante.
Cecilia Bustamante works from her home on base. She got her clientele from her Facebook page and by inviting the local military women for free services, which led to many referrals and, within eight months, a full book.
The biggest challenge was starting from zero in a foreign city with no clientele or referrals. Her wine rack became her shelving and storage unit, and her manicure table was a small school desk she bought to reduce space and cost.
To add to the struggle, major distributors do not ship products to Okinawa, so Bustamante occasionally has had to travel to Guam to get products.
Cecilia Bustamante, her husband Sgt. Rogelio Pagan, and daughter Sofia, have been in Okinawa, Japan, since 2009 for Rogelio’s Army assignment. Here they are at Shurijo Castle Park.
Nobody thought she would have such success in such a short time. It’s been only eight months and Bustamante already has a steady clientele of about 30 ladies she sees at least once a month.
Cecilia Bustamante enjoys the sights of Kokusai Street in Naha.
Bustamante sees military wives throughout their husbands’ service, from their sad days when the husbands are deployed to the joyful returns. “It’s really such a pleasure for me to work for my fellow military wives and somehow contribute to their well being,” she says. “I know by personal experience how hard this can be, so pampering them with a simple pedicure or manicure can do a lot to lift their spirits, and I’m proud of what I do for them.”
The Senior Home Nail Techs
Elle Lopez and Nia Cooper are both nail techs who go to senior centers to service the elderly residents there. Lopez services the Grand Court Elderly Center in Phoenix and Cooper goes to the Senior Assisted Retreat in Washington D.C. They each have become successful in cultivating a steady income from their resident clients, but challenges can come up.
Elle Lopez primarily does natural nails, but a few clients wear acrylics or fiberglass wraps with gel.
Lopez’s biggest challenge has been servicing the clients who have severe hand tremors and shake, so she has to take extra care and precaution. And it can also be challenging because she has to improvise where she does the nails since she doesn’t have an official workstation. She usually sits at a little café-type table with the client on one side and herself on the other.
For Nia Cooper, working in senior living communities came later in her career, after she had done mobile volunteer work. “Business has been amazing,” she says, “and I definitely recommend other techs cultivate a senior clientele.”
Each tech finds this work sincerely rewarding. Says Cooper, “The lovely ladies who I have been pampering are all a joy to be around and to work with. I have learned a lot about life from them. They all love the time I spend with them while I am there, and they look forward to the next visit.”
And Lopez says of her time spent, “It’s inevitable that my ladies won’t be my clients forever, but I definitely make them feel like a queen each and every two weeks until they go to heaven, and then I will still do their nails once I catch up with them there.”