Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Ambassadors to the Industry

by Maggie Franklin | January 5, 2009

Look at the smile line on these nails Lois did on my client.

A long time ago, before I bought my PDA, I had a three-ring binder for my appointment book. I printed out the calendar sheets myself — which ensured that my schedule would start at 10 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. The binder was the type that has a clear plastic sheet over the cover so you can put your own picture or whatever on the cover. Very cool.


That was back in the day when Tom Holcomb was reppin’ for EZ Flow and I had a fabulous picture of Tom’s signature style pink-and-whites as my appointment book cover. Mmmm, them was sum purdy nailz.


My clients didn’t much care for them. At least, that’s what they said. Now, I’m not sure if they actually loved those nails but didn’t want me to feel bad because my nails didn’t quite live up to that standard or if they really weren’t so keen on the look. But I have always loved that super deep smile line. Whatever the truth was, I heard enough of my regulars tell me that they weren’t fans of the deep smile lines that I stopped trying to emulate it. 


Last year I did a little experimental swap with another nail tech for an article about trading spaces in the January ’08 issue of NAILS. Lois owns a small salon in Lemoore, about 30 miles or so east of me. Lois is a very different nail tech than I am. Possibly the most noticeable difference is that her prices start at fully double mine. So you can imagine when I set up the schedule for the day that Lois would be working in my place, the clients who agreed to take part in the experiment were really curious to find out what was so great about Lois.


Well, first off, Lois does super-deep smile lines. She also books her clients every three weeks instead of every two weeks, which eases the sting of a premium price. She does backfills on everyone, every time. And almost all her clients wear glitter. Also, Lois knows she’s badass and she charges accordingly — which is where I, and most of us for that matter, go wrong.


So after the swap was over and Lois and I had submitted our article and I had a chance to consult with the clients who were now sporting Lois’ work, I got an earful about what they liked and didn’t like about Lois and the way she does nails. Mostly, of course, they didn’t like that she was Lois. Not in a way that Lois should at all feel bad about, but in the same way that I’m sure Lois’ clients didn’t like that I was Maggie. As in Lois is not Maggie and vice versa. But one thing I did hear was that they liked the super deep smile lines. In fact, one of my clients actually claimed that she’d never seen smile lines like that!


Allow me to take a moment to hop up and down while cursing with steam coming out of my ears.


Well, frustration aside, I learned a lesson from that. What really hit home for me was that we are ambassadors to the industry. We are in the position to introduce our clients to whatever is current in the biz. Our clients don’t read NAILS Magazine, and nails are sorely under-represented in fashion magazines or any other publication that is targeted to the public. So, it’s up to us to make sure our clients learn about the nail industry and what’s trendy because many times we are the only avenue through which our clients are exposed to nail trends.


I may have shown my clients those awesome smile lines before they were ready to embrace them. I was doing embedded glitter and confetti 10 years ago, but that technique just found its market a couple of years ago. I think a lot of us do that — we get excited about something new, we bring it home to our clients, and our clients turn up their noses at it. So we get discouraged and put our new toys away, only to have those same clients come in a few years later all excited about the “newest” style they just saw on their sister who goes to another nail tech in town and they think they are telling you something new.


You sigh heavily — or hop up and down cursing — and try to decide if it’s worth reminding them that YOU SHOWED THAT TO THEM three years ago and they didn’t like it!


Trust me. It’s not. Just smile in defeat and let them know that you have all the same stuff and you can do whatever they saw somewhere else. Then charge them for it.


But remember, if at first your clients aren’t interested ... bring it out and show it to them again after a few months. Don’t let new products sit in the back of your desk and don’t let new ideas collect dust in the back of your mind! Bring it back out and show it off every so often because eventually your clients are going to catch up to you and you’re going to be pretty miffed if they’re giving someone else the credit for “inventing” something you showed them a decade ago.

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