Name: Barb Wetzel
Position: Independent educator
Location: LaGrange, Ill.
Years doing nails: 12
Years educating: 10
Why she stands out: The name in the envelope read Barb Wetzel, but you may know her better as Barb Nailsplash, or simply the Queen of Gels. As a nail tech, independent educator, and webmistress of the popular NailSplash.com (which offers an astounding 400 pages of free education), Barb has spent the last 10 years sharing her knowledge and passion for gel nails, product chemistry, and a host of other technical subjects.
Still, the most valuable thing she can give her students, says Barb, is confidence. “Whether I’m working with techs fresh out of school or experienced techs learning a new skill, I try to impart a sense of confidence with their current abilities and the knowledge that with practice, their skills will definitely improve,” she says.
A married mother of three (for if you count her dog Maggie), Barb received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois in bioscience and business in 1982. Before entering the nail industry, she worked as a chemical technician for a plastics company, a personnel director for a human resources company, and spent many years in sales and marketing.
Since entering the nail business 12 years ago, she’s earned certification as an educator both internationally and by the Illinois state board. An active educator for the NCA, she was awarded the designation of NTA (Nail Tech America) in 1993. In addition, Barb is a member of Cosmetologists Chicago, the Illinois Cosmetology Association, and the Illinois Nail Technicians Association.
Barb feels it’s important to teach from a generic, non-product-specific perspective so that techs can apply what they learn to their favorite product lines. Not only does she teach in classroom settings and one-on-one, she consults online via e-mail and message boards, over the phone, and offers educational videos. “My newest innovation is called video consultation,” says Barb. “I have the nail tech set up a tripod, film themselves working, and mail it to me. I watch the video, take notes and write up suggestions for improvement.”
Barb’s personal motto, “knowledge is power,” explains the passions behind her work. “I hope to help raise the level of respect for our industry and raise our paychecks and self-esteem in the process. As one of us rises higher in her career, so do the rest of us,” says Barb.