Guest Post from a Competition Nail Tech

I have been harboring the idea of competing now that gel-polish has become a category and thought it would be cool to get a competitor's perspective. LaVaque and Empower Nail Art have also been magnanimous enough to allow me to be a competition model at ISSE, so I can bring you information from both sides of the table! Here's a guest blog from the competitor who'll be doing my nails in Long Beach:

Hi, I'm Guin Deadman-Littlefield. I've been a nail technician for 18 years. I've dabbled in nail competitions my whole career. I've entered a couple of online competitions and a couple of hands on competitions at local shows several years ago. Last year, I decided to get into competing seriously. I entered and placed fourth with the 3-D nail art turn-in at a show in Pasadena. The excitement of this event motivated me to participate in the turn-ins for Orlando and Las Vegas 2013 shows. It was with great joy to receive another fourth-place and a second-place with a trophy too! At the 2013 IBS Las Vegas show, my friend Shannon Nakamura needed a third team member in the "tip and overlay" relay competition. I was thrilled Shannon asked me to participate. It was very fun and as a team, we placed sixth.

Later that summer, Shannon asked me to be on her competition team for Nubar. OMG I'm competing on a real team! I was so honored and wanted to make them proud for selecting me. Presently, this brings us to the 2014 ISSE show in Long Beach this month. I'm competing in four competitions, and I need models. Oh no, I've never done this before...where do I find models? How do I find a model to allow me to use their hands for these competitions? I thought back to when I volunteered to be a model for Shannon. I was interested in competing and wanted to experience the competition from a non-stress viewpoint yet actually participate. Being Shannon's model allowed me to feel this experience. Then I remembered Holly Schippers mentioning that she was interested in competing in the soak-off gel competition. I asked her to be my model. Holly said yes and suggested we blog about our experience. With great enthusiasm, I'm writing my first blog and participating in my first hands-on competitions.

Preparing for the competition, I've got one model confirmed. I will find a victim (I mean model) for the other competitions at the show on Saturday since the competitions aren't until Sunday. Many competing place ads one craigslist, or contact local beauty schools...or even....gulp...model agencies. I'm not nervous about competing. However, it is uncomfortable to communicate over text or email to a total stranger to model for a competition. How reliable will she be? Will she show up? Are her hands and nails in great condition for competition? Asking a person face-to-face is more comfortable. Communicating via phone, text, or e-mail is scary for me.

Practice, practice, practice, a lot of what you do in a competition is very similar to real salon life, but more perfected. I attended a two-day workshop on competition nails. I worked with mentions and modeled for several competitions to really get a plan of how to go about it when I finally played too. I highly encourage anyone interested in competing to check out Amy Becker's new website and get connected with a veteran competitor to assist you.

Last but not least, know the rules, guidelines, and judging criteria for each and every competition you're entering. Schedules, rules, judging criteria, scoring, supply lists, and a glossary of terminology as it's used in nail competitions, which is very helpful.

I can't wait to share my experience from behind the table with you all, and I hope that you'll consider giving it a try in the future. Many of the famous nail techs we all know and want to be were top competitors at one time.

— Holly & Guin

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