Leslie Henry in The Mani Cave.
Her enthusiasm is infectious — good thing since this is probably rule #1 for polish bloggers. A licensed nail tech who no longer sees clients, Leslie Henry expresses her love for all things nails as the force behind the blog Work Play Polish (www.workplaypolish.com). We wondered what life is like for Henry, so we asked her to tell us a little about her career.
How did you get into polish blogging?
Henry: After I graduated college, I stopped doing nails professionally and focused on my career in the defense business. Then in early 2012, my daughter got interested in nail art. She asked me to do a few designs for her and suddenly I was hooked…again! I thought she and I could start a blog together as a fun mother/daughter activity. However, she quickly tired of me — so I ventured out on my own. It’s a great creative outlet. Up to that point, all I did was work.
Can one make a living as a polish blogger?
Henry: I suppose it depends on your definition of “making a living.” The polish blogging world is very saturated, so it can be difficult to differentiate yourself enough to generate real, no-kidding income (just think of all the talented up and-coming bloggers just waiting in line to do work with no compensation!). That’s not to say it’s impossible to support yourself as a blogger. With enough traffic you can earn decent advertising revenue and there are also other paid opportunities like custom nail art and sponsored posts. However I’d bet that most polish bloggers use most of their blog income to pay for hosting, expenses, and of course, more polish! As a second income for a family — or supplementary income for a nail tech — I think it’s definitely something anyone with passion for nails should explore.
What’s the best perk of the job?
Henry: That’s easy — the polish! But beyond that, I don’t think a lot of people realize there’s a whole interconnected nail blogging community. I’ve met some dear friends through blogging and that’s a huge perk.
Your photos look great! Do you have a secret?
Henry: My photos have definitely improved since the early days. I spent countless hours reading up about photography and lighting. I stalked the poor manager at a local photography shop. I took thousands of pictures, changing the settings one at a time. Finally, I tweaked my setup enough that I landed on a combination I’m happy with. I use a daylight CFL bulb (no light tent) and a Canon T3i EOS Rebel in manual mode. My biggest secret is about posing…I don’t pay any attention to my fingers or nails. I only look at the shape of the light reflection. If I can get that to match the image ingrained in my brain, then I know the angle and position is correct.
Is it true one of your nail clients paid your college tuition?
Henry: This is true and I still get emotional when I tell the story. This particular client was one of my best — loyal, engaged, a second mother almost. I went away to college with a full academic scholarship, but returned home after my small private school was put on probation for accreditation. Nails were supposed to be a stop-gap venture for me. But I was having trouble getting the resources and motivation together to go back to college full-time. Then one day, my client announced that I was going back to college and she was paying for it. And she did! I worked hard to finish my bachelor’s degree and finished in two years. Her only stipulation was that I pay it forward in some way. I have some great ideas about how I’m going to do that.
What do you miss about working in the salon?
Henry: Read my last answer and you’ll know why I say it’s the clients, for sure. Even now, 15 years later, I still keep in touch with many of them. If you’re a licensed nail tech, then you know that developing a relationship with your regular clients is a responsibility. I learned so many valuable lessons doing nails professionally that I’m able to apply to my “desk job” today.