After five years as an assistant buyer for a large department store, Sharon Parker was reaching burnout. A regular nail care client herself, Parker couldn’t help but notice the new clothes her nail technician was wearing at every appointment. She must be making good money, Parker thought, so she asked her technician to teach her how to do nails (a nail technician license wasn’t required in Florida at the time). Today, 14 years later, Parker, who does nails part-time at Mystic Hair Salon in Tampa, Fla., has a long list of nails-related jobs on her resume — salon owner, nail competitor and judge, nail competition director for Ace Beauty Co., J.R. Convention Services, and NAILS Shows, and now, cover technician for NAILS Magazine.
Parker was inspired to oversee nail competitions following an incident at her very first competition — tip and acrylic overlay, using a drill. “The rules and regulations were vague,” she remembers. “For example, there was no specified time period in which you could use the drill, I used it during the entire competition and the winner used it only at the end to buff her model’s nails.”
Nevertheless, Parker continued competing for a couple of years until her duties as a salon owner required her to put all her energy into the business. After owning the salon for 10 years, she decided to call it quits because she wanted to get into consulting. Soon after closing her salon, Parker started working at Mystic.
Parker takes her role as nail competition director very seriously. “The entire competition begins and ends with you. You write the rules, which have to be precise and easy to read,” she says. “You also have to maintain the vision of the company and make sure it’s fun for the competitors.”
Parker has noticed that the top competitors in the country today are now friends and are willing to share their techniques. “Back when I competed, everything was so hush-hush,” she says. “The competition atmosphere wasn’t lively and fun, and it should be.”
Another source of fun for Parker is planting flowers and doing landscape work in her backyard. She also loves to cook, which is great “because my husband Steven loves to eat,” she says. And although Parker secretly hopes to become the next Martha Stewart, she is enjoying life right now and can’t think of anything else she’d rather be doing.