When asked to compare the nail profession in the U.S. with the state of the industry in her native Germany, nail technician Natascha Mapp doesn’t know quite where to begin. “Our industry is not organized in any way — it’s not really even considered a profession,” she says. “German nail technicians are not licensed and there is no real continuing education. Most technicians get certified by taking weekend seminars that are unregulated. Distributors and manufacturers provide little support and even nail techs hardly talk to each other — they view other techs as competitors.”
Mapp, the owner of Crazy Nails in Wiesbaden, Germany, attended nail school in Los Angeles during an eight-year stay. She went “just to know how to do nails.” When Mapp returned home, she held a number of different jobs outside of the beauty industry. At one point, she found herself jobless in a time of record high unemployment. “When the going got really tough, I decided — with much encouragement from my friends — to start my own nail business. I started working out of my home in January 1997 and within two months I had a full appointment book,” she says. “In June, I signed the lease on my storefront location. I work approximately 14 hours a day and I couldn’t be happier.”
Most recently, Mapp formed the Professional Association of Nailcare Specialists and Nail technicians of Germany (FVNS Deutschland for short in German). The new organization’s main goal is to set quality standards by developing educational programs for the nail industry.
Although she says nails are not big business in Germany, the women who do get their nails done prefer artificial services to natural. Gels are far and away the most popular service, according to Mapp. “I feel European gels are superior. Most of our nail salons are really odor-free,” she says. A set of gels runs about $85.