Let’s face it, there are certain jobs that make the rounds of the “what can I do to make a decent living without having to spend a lot of time in school?” mindset. Dental hygienist, court reporter, medical assistant... we have a local trade school that keeps running an ad campaign designed to convince me that there’s a desperate need for helicopter pilots. Which is not so much what I hear from helicopter pilots (and yes, I know a couple.)
Even though I totally respect that being a dental hygienist or a court reporter requires some training and skill — let’s face it, am I the only one who sort of stifles a guffaw when someone tells me they’re going to school to become one?
Guess what? Beauty school is right up there on that list too. People don’t take it seriously. They hear that someone is taking the cosmetology or manicuring class and they sort of nod and smile politely, but inside they’re thinking, “Oh great, and what program are you going to enroll in next?”
Such a tiny percentage of the people who enroll in a manicuring course ever actually go on to make a living doing nails. They drop out of the program, they never go take their state board, or they jump into a salon job without a clue. They suffer through a few weeks, months, or maybe even make it through a year or two, all the while taking every chance available to whine about how hard it is to build a clientele and coming up with all manner of excuses for why it’s not their fault that they aren’t managing.
Then, they go on to find “real” jobs and spend the rest of their lives saying, “I did nails, but there’s just no money in it...” “The business is so competitive, you just can’t make a living doing nails...” And my all-time fave: “Nobody gets their nails done anymore.”
We discuss public perception of the nail industry often, debate all the ways we can work to improve the way people perceive our business and what we can do to convince them that we are skilled professionals deserving of a little respect.
I don’t care if you work in your pajamas. I don’t care if you take your kids to work with you, or if you curse like an angry sailor while you work— providing that you work in an environment where these things are par for the course and you’ve built a clientele that fits this business model — “professional” comes in all shapes and sizes. But at the bottom of it all, “professional” means you’re making a living at it.
I’ve been thinking about it all and I’ve come to the conclusion that the single greatest variable that needs to change if we really want to boost the public perception of the manicuring industry is that the public needs to stop encountering more dental hygienists, court reporters, and medical assistants that “used to do nails” than actual nail techs.