The moral of the story, for all you competitors out there, is don’t let a loss get you down. Kasie Hildebran didn’t. After competing for the first time in the flat nail art category at the November 1994 NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas and not placing, Hildebran took IBS New York ’95 by storm, capturing first place in the Fantasy Total Look Nail Competition with an utterly outrageous creation called “Medusa Takes Manhattan.” Hildebran, manager of Cut ’n Up Hairstyling in Morganton, N.C., scored 299 of a possible 300 points. Salon owner Tammy Mull served as her model.
“I conceived my idea with my friend, Tanya King, who also works with me,” says Hildebran. “I designed the costume, starting with a black velvet body suit.” Hildebran made some modifications to the body suit, involving, among other things, black and gold sequins and feathers. The seven-foot tail, constructed from chicken wire and papier-mâché, took a week to dry, she says. Then it was painted and airbrushed, as was the model’s body. Hildebran’s husband, Mark, helped by soldering wires together to hold rubber snakes onto a long black wig. The nails, which feature characters from Greek mythology, took about three months to complete. Hildebran’s first trip to New York garnered her a clip on CNN Headline News and a front page article in her hometown paper, not to mention $300 cash, a trophy, and a medal.
Novice nail competitor Debbie Madden of Pazazz Hair Design & More in St. Petersburg, Fla., didn’t have to follow the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Madden, who has been a nail technician for two years, first competed last October at Ace Beauty Co.’s show in Orlando and placed second in the first-timers tip with overlay competition. Three months later, a stunned Madden took first place in the fantasy nail art competition at Ace Beauty Co.’s “A Detail View of Life in the Salon of the ’90s” tradeshow in Tampa. Says Madden about her winning entry, “My vision of the salon of the ’90s is neoclassic. To help bring the client ‘Back to Eden,’ soft tones in marble, botanical displays, and aromatic fragrances will surround this full-service domain. As always, the salon has been a means to escape the hectic lives we lead. During the last years of the millennium, we’ll be looking to relax in the most natural and serene atmosphere we can find. This miniature replica, modeled by my living statue, is a perfect retreat for any salon guest.”
Her design was a replica of the salon she works at, complete with waiting area, shampoo bowl with bubbles, and a nail station with glowing light bulb. It was her husband, Tim, who came up with the idea. It took her 2½ hours to sculpt the model from acrylic. Luckily, she was allowed to do the prep work, such as the nails themselves, the day before.
Boy did Madden get the surprise of her life when well-known nail competitor Kim Morgan, who also competed in the fantasy nail art competition, came up to her after ward and told her she had done an awesome job. “What a compliment!” says Madden.
Madden first taught herself to do nails back in 1980, and for 13 years she did them on the side for family and friends. “I had no idea I was building clientele the whole time,” she says. Then, in 1993, she became licensed, quit her job as manager for a public relations firm, and started doing nails full time. “I was bored to death and stressed out with managing, and I wanted to do something creative,” she says.
It was the encouragement of her salon owner and coworkers that led Madden to try her hand at competing. “It’s a great way to push yourself to see how far you car go, and it has made me learn a lot about my own personal growth,” she says. “Every nail technician should give competing a try. Whether you win or lose, you always learn … ‘You get old too soon, and smart too late.’”