After dabbling in competitions for years, nail tech Allison Baker started this year out with gusto by keeping her competition schedule full and her product applications perfect. Her hard work paid off — landing her in the #1 spot on this year’s Top 25 list above a group of very talented and competitive nail techs.
An example of Baker’s exquisite nail embellishment designs, incorporating color fades, 3-D nail art, and asymmetrical stiletto sculpts.
1st Place: Allison Baker
Allison Baker has been a nail tech in southern Oregon for 15 years, and an educator for EZ Flow and its sister companies for 10 years. She is the owner of Nail It! Professional Nail Studio in Medford, Ore., and travels the world educating for EZ Flow. NAILS asked Allison about her outstanding year of competing.
What competitions did you enter this year?
It all started with the Nailympics in London last September. I didn’t place individually but was part of the winning team entry, and I got the taste [for competing] back. After that I competed in Sacramento, in the Nailympics USA, at ISSE in Long Beach, Premiere Orlando, and IBS Las Vegas. I also just competed at the Nailympics USA again in June. (Ed note: Those results aren’t included in the 2011-2012 Top 25.)
What led to your increase in competing this year?
My big push came from the director of education at EZ Flow, Dennise Mason. She threw me into the London Nailympics, and since then she’s been my biggest cheerleader.
How do you feel about your competitions this year? Do you plan on competing next year?
I’m really happy about this year. I did better than I ever expected to. I do nails full time in my salon and I educate worldwide for AII and EZ Flow, but the level and style of nails in competitions is so different. I have been extremely surprised with myself. I’m naturally a competitive person and my worst critic. I do plan on competing next year. There’s always room for improvement.
Allison’s entry for the Perfect Match competition that earned her and her partner Nikki Payton 2nd place.
What is your favorite competition category?
I think I would have to say stiletto. They’re challenging but I love the way they look. It’s also my favorite shape to wear.
What win are you most proud of?
Definitely my second place spot in Perfect Match at IBS Las Vegas with Nikki Payton. We work together in the salon and in January I somewhat forced her to partner up with me for that event in Long Beach. She had never competed before and was extremely nervous. I made some mistakes and changed applications on her last minute and we blew it. It was a disaster to say the least. We decided to give it another shot in Vegas and things just clicked. They called our names for second place and I really don’t think I have ever seen Nikki more shocked and excited in my five years of working with her. I was so happy and proud at that moment and still am. Our trophy sits in between our tables at work.
What is the greatest challenge in the competition arena? How do you deal with it?
Allison winning 2nd place at the US Invitational at IBS Las Vegas in the Perfect Match category, with first place winner Trang Nguyen (right), and third place John Hauk (left).
Time and temperature. I always seem to be pushing the time limits and rushing to finish. It seems at the beginning it’s plenty of time but when you are trying to create that “perfect” set of nails it just flies by. It is always freezing cold too. My poor models sit there for hours at a time through the competition and then judging turning blue and shivering. Product doesn’t work optimally in the cold either, so that affects my time. My answer to both: heating pads and Snuggies.
What don’t we know about you? What do you do for fun?
I watch a lot of football games and wrestling matches and I love to get on my Harley whenever I can and just ride. I call it bike therapy. When I really think about it, my career is the most girly thing about me. I love camping and outdoor stuff. I have two teenage boys that have always been very supportive of what I do, and I’m also newly married and have five great new stepchildren, and a wonderful husband.
Next page: Top 25 competitors Erina Ogawa, Seo Sang-Mi, and Shannon McCown