Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Starting at the Very Beginning

by Maggie Franklin | June 10, 2014

Baby Bird and I have been talking a lot about practice. And I’ve been pushing the importance of practice on her. And she’s been practicing. And then I sat down to practice with her...


The problem has been that she needs practice; she can turn out a nice-looking finished product, but it takes her far too long. Which isn’t uncommon for many of us when we’re starting out, because there’s no way to create the wrinkles in our brains to make the motions of doing nails an automated physical routine than by repetition of those movements. You can watch video tutorials till your eyes bleed, but it won’t accomplish the muscle memory you need in order to make this second nature.

But how do you get practice? Yes, thankfully, there is now a Nail Trainer hand — and there are live victims, and there are flat practice exercises on templates and forms. We do not have an abundance of live victims who are willing to be held captive for the amount of time it currently takes. (I remember a lot of four-hour full sets when I started — Baby Bird is actually ahead of me!)

I’ve been pushing for her to practice smile lines, since she has virtually no experience with them and, of course, sculpting on forms. But wait... it turns out I can’t just give her an assignment to practice and leave her to work on her own. Which was a little frustrating in the beginning (I tell ya, this whole being responsible for someone other than myself things really clashes with my only child vibe).

Too many questions. Too much sitting at her desk looking lost. Just wasn’t quite working out the way I’d envisioned. So we finally got some time to sit across from each other and play together, and...

Looks like we have to start with how to hold a sculpting brush. Talk about starting at the very beginning!

This should have been addressed in her cosmetology course. Without getting into the why the state thinks it only takes 50 hours of instruction for a cosmetologist to be qualified to do nails, but it takes a manicurist 400 hoursto be qualified (?!!!), it only takes an hour of proper instruction to teach the proper grip on a brush! And an hour is assuming the instructor physically stands by each student and watches them and takes time to correct what needs correcting.

No one is going to be able to build their skills to doing a set of nails in an hour if they are constantly repositioning the brush in their hand between dipping, dragging, placing, wiping, swiping, patting, pulling, etc.

I tell ya, I am learning more about what I want changed in the school training programs, what level new licensees are really at, and where training really begins from Baby Bird than she will ever learn from me.

No wonder so many salon owners over the years have bemoaned the lack of qualified nail techs. Looks like I’m at the beginning of a very long process if I am going to seriously pursue the idea of growing my salon into a full-fledged empire.

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