By Gina Mercer
After looking at my sister Kim’s beautiful hands, I decide that she would be an excellent nail model. When I first asked her to join me at a nail competition, in 1993, she was hesitant. She reminded me of the first set I had put on her back in the early ’80s. They were thick, lumpy, and took hours to Gina Mercer (left), a nail technician at La Mane Salon in Winnemucca, Nev., inspired her sister Kim Christopherson to join the profession.
complete. I assured her that this time it would be much easier. We competed four times together that year, taking three firsts and one third. Over the next several years, Kim modeled for me may times—nearly every time we brought home the first-place trophy.
Over the course of the next five years, Kim became more and more interested in the industry. At shows she would go and look at all the different nail art designs and hit every nail art booth to watch demos on the show floor. I bought her a nail art kit after one show and from then on after each competition, she would go home and paint fancy pictures on her nails to show off at work.
A year and a half ago, after returning from the NAILS show in San Francisco, Kim and I got to talking about her career—she was not happy at her job as a receptionist in the X-ray department at a hospital. I though she would be a natural for doing nails. After thinking about it for a few weeks, Kim enrolled in the nail program at Northern Nevada Beauty Academy in Reno.
She already knew how to do pink-and-white acrylics just from watching me do her nails so many times. She knew what a perfect nail was supposed to look like. In fact, I don’t think she knew what a bad nail looked like after viewing all those nails at the shows. I offered her my old manicure table to practice on and gave her my airbrush, stencils, and paint. One Sunday, I even brought one of my clients home so I could teach Kim how to use the airbrush on her.
Kim completed her 500 hours of training and took her state board exam in May 1998. During the week while she waited for her results she came to the shop to set up her table and learn the desk. I called our inspector two days after she had taken her boards and he told me that she had indeed passed but that he could not tell me what her score was. Finally we got a letter from the Bureau of Occupational Licenses Cosmetology Department. She had gotten 100%! The next day I was doing a hair-cut on one of my long-standing male clients and bragging about Kim’s score. He decided that he wanted to try a manicure, so Kim had her first appointment that day.
Who knows, now that I’ve gotten Kim under way, in a few years I just might be taking my daughter under my wing and nurturing her into this industry.