So a new client comes in the other day for a full set. She tells me that she’s been stalking me online for a while and loves my work. But she has a regular nail tech, and my prices are a little higher than she can swing on a regular basis — no insults, she loves my work and understands why I charge what I charge and doesn’t hold it against me. But it’s pretty clear that she won’t become a regular client; she’s here because she wants a nice set for a special occasion and she wants a set of Maggie Franklin nails.
Very cool for me to hear. I’m sorry to hear she won’t be a regular client because I like her and I like having people tell me that they love my work. But I also appreciate that she’s not whining about my prices and that she thinks my work is worth it.
So we chitchat, get to know each other, standard first date stuff. She has a picture to give me an idea of what she wants and I’m thinking this is going to be no sweat. I get authorization for the colors I want to use and we get to work.
Throughout the entire service, we are having great conversation, I like her, I think she likes me. Our personalities seem to be a good fit. But little by little, I start detecting disappointment from her.
She’s picky. “This has a ledge...there’s a bump here...can you bring up the smile lines...can you shape them like this... that design covers too much of the nail... no I don’t want that color...”
I don’t really mind a “picky” client. Especially on a first date (appointment), we don’t know each other yet. I need to learn each person’s individual tastes and pet peeves. But in this case, I couldn’t help but slowly become saturated with the feeling that the client was disappointed in my work.
I don’t get it. I have hundreds of photos of my work online. From natural nails (which I do very few of), to gels, to acrylics. Short, long, duck foot, stiletto, round, almond. Glitter, hand-painted, polished. It seems to me that I make an effort to give complete strangers the best opportunity to know what to expect if they come to me to get their nails done — both through the pictures of my work as well as the posts to my blogs and social media networks.
So when someone comes in who tells me she has been looking at my work and reading my posts for a long time, I sort of figure she knows what her nails are going to look like when I do them. And if you’re coming to me because you think I’m an “artist” and you want your nails to reflect that, then you have to give me some room to run with my own imagination — not restrict me to a strictly prescribed design.
What was she expecting? That I have some psychic connection to my clients? That I will be able to immediately adjust my style and technique to suit someone who I didn’t even know existed until she put her name in my appointment book?
In the end, I loved the way her nails turned out, but wasn’t able to take the time to snap a photo before she left. I’m still haunted by the feeling that I somehow let her down, but I have no idea how I could have.