Like any other profession, the nail industry has its share of unwritten rules. We talked to 10 nail techs and got their opinions on everything from stealing to gossiping.
with nail damage. By giving them the specifics on why a particular service cannot be performed, a nail tech builds trust with most new clients. There can be times, however, when the client may not appreciate the nail lesson and will move on to another technician.
Although Gina Etters of Nail & Hair Compliments in Tallmadge, Ohio, hasn’t had too many problems, she did come across a major MMA-related dilemma. According to Etters, a woman came into the salon with an MMA product on her nails. Her pinkie nail had broken, taking almost all of the nail plate with it, as well as separating it from the nail bed. “It was bleeding and she wanted me to remove the nail,” Etters says. “I would not do it. I told her I would cut the nail down for her, which I did with a one-cut tip cutter. I wrapped the nail in a bandage, applied an antibiotic ointment, and told her she needed to see a doctor – and that she could possibly lose her nail forever.” Etters says she will not hesitate to tell clients she cannot work on them. After all, she says, she is a professional who has been well trained.
Fabian has also only gone through this situation once – right out of nail school. The owner of the salon Fabian was working at made her do fills on a woman who’d previously had her nails done by a student. The client had fungus on most of her nails, but insisted on having them filled because she had a function to attend that night. “Since I was right out of school, I didn’t know how to handle the situation the way I do now,” Fabian says. “The lengths women will go to in order to get their nails done.”
Dealing With the Big Boys
The golden rule when it comes to dealing with manufacturers and distributors is patience. “It’s very hard to be patient when you are waiting for a product that you needed yesterday,” Diver says. “But I try to remember that they too are human and really do want your business. Sometimes it just feels like they don’t.” Diver says she enjoys visiting local distributors because they tend to be more personal and helpful and they keep her on top of new products before they arrive on the market. Like Diver, Randolph also tries to keep her cool. “I have found out the hard way that the meaner you are, the longer it takes and you get nowhere,” she says. “I am very pleasant and try to be very helpful. Although my blood pressure may be going through the roof, it works.”
When it comes to manufacturers, many nail techs make it a point to research each one carefully. Titus does, and she usually gets free samples in the process. She makes sure a manufacturer has a technical hotline and tries to take as many company-offered classes as possible. When it comes to dealing with distributors, Palmer says she usually orders products online because many distributors don’t want to carry on entire product line, and manufacturers cannot sell their products to nail techs because of contract and territory limitations. Etters say she usually calls the Better Business Bureau to get a clue on a distributor’s reputation. Visiting a distributor also gives her a good opportunity to see how the business is run.
The Lowdown on Gossip
Let’s admit it. We all love to gossip now and then. It’s interesting to get the lowdown on what’s happening in the ever-fascinating world of nails. At times, though, gossip can be damaging and may even cause you to lose some of your clientele. “Gossiping is a serious no-no,” says Dorothy Jackson of Glamour & Glitz Salon in Augusta, Ga. “If clients hear you gossiping they will feel that as soon as they leave, they too will be the topic of discussion.” Tammy Retzlaff of Networks Hair & Body Studio in Edmonton, Alberta, agrees. She says that although plenty of nail techs gossip at one time or another, once they become seasoned professionals they know what’s acceptable and what’s not. “I received honors in the school of hard knocks. I learned from my own mistakes,” Retzlaff says.
Gossiping doesn’t always have to be harmful, however. There are times when a nail tech must simply help her clients catch up on the latest happenings. Lynette Diaz-Madden of Tresbien in Lansdale, Pa., says that when clients ask about other clients, she only tells them how they’re doing. “The other night one of my clients asked how another was doing,” she says. “When I told her she was going to Japan, my client got very excited for her. These are the things we talk about. Nothing derogatory, because let me tell you, the world is smaller than we think.”
Some nail techs take drastic measures when the gossip gets out of hand. Randolph tries to change the subject if a client starts talking about another person or nail tech. She admits that she has let go of a few clients because of their incessant gossiping.
For the most part, though, nail techs act like doctors in that they keep everything a client or fellow nail tech says to them confidential. “I wouldn’t want anybody gossiping about me when I’m not around. I try to be an example,” Accardo says.
It seems there are so many rules to follow when it comes to being a responsible nail tech. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is professionalism. Act like a professional and the rest will fall into place.
The 14 Nail Technician Commandments *
1. You shall not use any MMA product on your nails.
2. You shall respect your clients regardless of race, religion, or tips.
3. You shall not kill your client no matter how many times she says, “It just popped off.”
4. You shall strive at all times to keep your clients educated and up to date.
5. You shall not use nonprofessional products bought from a drug store on clients’ nails.
6. You shall not ever believe that you know all and have no need to learn more.
7. You shall attend at least one educational seminar a year.
8. You shall not covet your fellow nail technician’s work or take credit for something that was not yours to take. Give credit where credit is due.
9. You shall not covet or steal another nail technician’s equipment and supplies, or even consider sitting at or touching another’s table.
10. You shall love your fellow nail technicians.
11. You shall practice proper sanitation and keep your work area clean, organized, and well-stocked at all times.
12. You shall be prompt and prepared for each client.
13. You shall not repeat gossip in the salon.
14. You shall always keep polish off the cuticle, no matter the color.
* List courtesy of Beautytech