Below is a transcribed version of The Nail Hub Podcast, Interview With Valerie Duacharme. To listen, click here.

Elizabeth: Welcome to The Nail Hub podcast, powered by NAILS Magazine. I'm Elizabeth Morris, your business obsessed nail guru here to share with you advice, motivation, and everything nails to help you be successful. As Leonard Nimoy said, "The more we share, the more we have." So, let's get sharing.   

I'm back from Premiere Orlando and also my trip to Mexico this last week. While I was in Orlando, I had such a great time this year. It was amazing, everything from the new NTNA, networking events, you know, from NAILS Magazine was really, really fun. Definitely a different style than any of the other years. The show was great, as per usual. And I'm gonna talk a little bit more about my personal experience at the show, but today I've got a special treat for you guys. While I was in Premiere Orlando, I had the pleasure of being able to sit down with all three of the NTNA finalists and I did this before we knew who the winner was, but I wanted to give a big congratulations to Valerie Ducharme for winning NTNA. She did an amazing job. All three ladies are amazing girls and I am so, so happy to have gotten to know them a little bit better during the event.  

I went and hung out with them at their condo and just sat down and wanted to get to know each one of them a little bit better and talk to them about what it means to them to be part of the nail industry, to be part of the NTNA competition and what makes them tick. So, today I've got the interview with Valerie Ducharme ready for you guys. I hope you enjoy, and if you haven't already, please reach out to her on Facebook or Instagram. Give her a big shout out for winning NTNA. She's worked really hard, and all the ladies have worked really hard, but a big congrats to Valerie for winning the NTNA competition this year. All right. Hope you guys enjoy. All right, so, I am hanging out with Valerie in the NTNA condo.   

Valerie: Hello.  

Elizabeth: And you just got back from breakfast with your friends which was really fun?   Valerie: Yes, yes.  

Elizabeth: So, what is it like to be here from Montréal? I mean, what does it feel like to come to Orlando? Have you been here before?   

Valerie: No, just for a trip to go on the boat, but I never visit and I don't think I have time to visit, but I will come back. This is a really pretty weather. Yes. So, I like it. That was a good trip.  

Elizabeth: Oh, good, good. And how did you...I mean, how did you get started in nails? What's kind of your story with, you know, your nail career?   

Valerie: I started like 15 years ago. I was a waitress before, so I just wanted to's a present, it's a Christmas present. My parents said, "What do you want for Christmas?" I said, "I don't know, I can...I want a course of nails." But I never put nails on my fingers. I don't know why I tell that I want to do...learn that, but it started like that. In the beginning, I don't like it. I don't like to do nails in the beginning because I think, "Oh, the filing, it's so long to be." I like to put the product on, but the filing, it's...  

Elizabeth: ...and the shaping...  

Valerie: ...and the shaping, and everything, but now, yeah...I don't know what is happen when I start to like painting on the nail. So, it was like really fun to do. So, I just changed my mind and yeah, I will have...I opened a store like it's a military service salon. I have like 13 employees that I have. So, we have hairstylists...  

Elizabeth: And this is back in Montréal?  

Valerie: And it's Montréal in the city. Yeah.   

Elizabeth: And what's was your salon called?   V

alerie: It's Studio 2075, but I sell it, I sell it in 2000...4 years ago because you know, I want to push my nail art more and if I want my business to grow up, I need to just focus more on the business thing than on the nail. So, it doesn't give me the happiness that I want so, I sell it. So, it was really my better decision in the life for me.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah.   

Valerie: I can...  

Elizabeth: Gave you a lot more freedom and...  

Valerie: ...more freedom. So, I just returned to work at home and I give a class. I'm starting to give a small class because in my country the school doesn't have a lot of hours. You know, it's 40 hours to be a technician. Like it's horrible, horrible, horrible.   

Elizabeth: So, continued education is really important?  

Valerie: You need to continue education and you don't have a lot of that too. So, I starting the nail art and more on nail art and the shaping?  

Elizabeth: Shaping.   

Valerie: Shaping, so to help and I will really love to share with...and yeah, that's it.    

Elizabeth: Oh, that's fun. So, you just started kind of giving...were you doing clients at home as well and then also teaching a little bit?  

Valerie: Yeah, teaching a little bit, yeah. And I do a contest, like it's like here NAHA, but in Canada. We have the Contessa Award that I win, Contessa winners, Canadian nail artist and that two times. So, my name like grow up in my country and so now I opened an academy so I will...but not for the beginning. You know, I don't have a class for the beginner. Just for nail art.   

Elizabeth: Right.   

Valerie: Just for nail art, just to continue education. It's not for that. It's for painting, for 3D, for acrylic mono...?   

Elizabeth: Yeah, right, but not for like basic manicure techniques.  

Valerie: No, not for now, not for now. No. So, I work to a new project for that.  

Elizabeth: Cool.  

Valerie: But it's looks like a new project that we've never seen on my country. So, it's why because I want to make some change. You know if nobody does, who will be in fact, so I want to do that.   

Elizabeth: Oh, that's so fun.  

Valerie: Yeah.  

Elizabeth: So, what do you think you like more? Do you like teaching more? Do you like actually working on clients more? And it was...  

Valerie: Me now I don't do clients. Now I don't have time to do that.   

Elizabeth: It's hard to do all of that.   

Valerie: Yeah, it's hard. I like both, you know. I miss my customer, you know because you have some close, friendly, close. So, I miss that, but I'm happy with what I'm doing. Like when I see some difference... when I make it some a little difference or...  

Elizabeth: ...with your students?   

Valerie: With a student, and it's so, it's...  

Elizabeth: Rewarding?  

Valerie: I feel like...I feel love.   

Elizabeth: Yeah  

Valerie: I don't know. I don't know how...  

Elizabeth: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Like what we say here is like a little light bulb goes off over the student, right? So, a little light bulb...   

Valerie: Yeah, yeah, oh, yes.  

Elizabeth: And it makes you so happy to see people, you know, experiencing that and if you can give them that little bit of information to help them.  

Valerie: Because you have and I love the people like we are not like us, we are just like, "Do something, try everything." You have it people who we have not this confidence to try everything. You have the people who if you don't help him, he just like stay-at-home. So, you need to give us the confidence that he needs to push her limits like. And this is what I like to do like it's...  

Elizabeth: Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, I think that's amazing because I agree. I think a lot of nail techs lack confidence and like you said they would end up doing the same thing forever if they didn't have someone pushing them to try and experiment and learn.    Valerie: Yeah, they want it, but they can have the force, the strong...  

Elizabeth: ...the strength.   

Valerie: ...the strength to do that. So, I'm not the best like, you know, but I think I make like a little difference in the...   

Elizabeth: Yeah, that's...   

Valerie: Everybody makes us some difference to each other.   

Elizabeth: I agree, and I think that's cool. If you can find that thing that you can contribute, then that makes a world of difference. Yeah, that's awesome. So, what has it been like competing? I mean, obviously you have some competitions in your background, so you know what it's like to compete. But what would you say has been your experience with NTNA? I mean, how does it compare?  

Valerie: It does not compare. It's like it's the other competition was more like one day or shooting photo or it's completely different. Like the NTNA was the most beautiful experience that I for real, if I told like, I want to reapply, I want to just reapply because it's addictive you know. It's a long time I want to push myself, my creativity, but you never took 60 hours, like in 1 week to make a project, you know. You never have this time. You always have something to do. So, I learned so, so much in this competition. I push my limit. I make...I'm more comfortable like if you interviewed me like six months ago, I will feel like I'm not really creative. I will find my creativity. You know, it's yeah, it's amazing, amazing, amazing...  

Elizabeth: Oh, that's amazing.  

Valerie: NTNA, wow, I can't...   

Elizabeth: You feel like a different person?   

Valerie: Yeah, I feel confidence, I feel confidence. I feel...the creativity is really personal, you know. When you win some challenge, you say, "Oh, yes." It's good, that it's true, that it's...  

Elizabeth: ...validation.  

Valerie: ...the validation, yeah. I have a validation that, okay. I have something that it's work like it's yeah, so no suddenly, yeah.   

Elizabeth: That's so cool. So, obviously, you're going to hear the results tonight?   

Valerie: Yeah.   

Elizabeth: But what does it...I mean, what does this competition mean for you? I mean, is it, do you want to win? Do you want to, you it more about just the experience? For you personally, what does this mean to you to be here at the last day?   

Valerie: I never thought that I will be this far, okay? I never thought of that. Of course, I will win. I will want to win, of course, because I'm here, but did this...if you just have this idea for push you, I don't think it's work. Like you need to do it for you before everything else. Yeah, it' NTNA yeah. I wanna win, but it's not for that, I do it. I do it for myself. I do it because I know I will learn so much. I do it for everybody else too who look everybody can do it. Like you just don't be shy and do it, and try it. Try something different like, yeah. I don't know if I answered your question.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, of course, yes, no, that's perfect.  

Valerie: I'm not sure.  

Elizabeth: What's something that you would say, you know, because you're saying try something different and expand your horizons. For you, what was something totally new for you that came out of this competition? What's something that you learned or that you experienced? I mean, what's something that you've really gained through this? I mean, obviously confidence, but I mean, skill-wise. I mean, is there something specific that you really were able to master through this competition? Did it improve your painting? Or, you know something...  

Valerie: Maybe strength it's like my storytelling I think. I think I make my storytelling. I think in my idea, like nobody understand everything, but I learn how you can twist an idea. I learn how you can like change your creativity to be your own personality either that I learned in that what I want it's...  

Elizabeth: That's beautiful.   

Valerie: ...yeah. And I will try some different product too. The product is when you are comfortable with what you usually use.  

Elizabeth: Right.  

Valerie: Okay? You never try something, but you never go far, far.  

Elizabeth: Right. You're in your comfort zone.  

Valerie: Yeah, yeah, and it's perfect, but for this, at all challenge, you have a product that you need to work with. So, you need to focus...  

Elizabeth: Focus, yeah.  

Valerie: focus on this and so I learned a lot of gel paint. I never paint with gel. So, that was amazing for me to paint with gel. I just do acrylic normally, acrylic painting. So, yeah, it's one another thing that I learned. I learned so much...  

Elizabeth: That's cool.   

Valerie: I can, yeah...  

Elizabeth: Yeah, and so what's something...I mean, you know, of course, and everything...all competitions are basically about you. You do all of these challenges and then hopefully you win, right? But what do you think, you know, this is gonna...this experience, what do you think it's gonna translate into for your career moving forward? I mean, forget about today, what does it mean for you for the next year, the next two years, I mean...  

Valerie: I really don't know. I don't...I go on all day, I just do something, but I don't think really a lot of what is happening next year. I'm really open to what the life comes to me. You know, it's...  

Elizabeth: in the moment.  

Valerie: in the moment like, yeah, because, yeah, I don't have...I have nothing to...

Elizabeth: I love that.   

Valerie: I want to teach more. I want to help people like what I did. Like it' what I did now, yeah, I don't have nothing to...I don't know.   

Elizabeth: I love that. Just take it as it comes.   

Valerie: Yeah.  

Elizabeth: Yeah.  

Valerie: Yeah.  

Elizabeth: That's good, be open to everything.   

Valerie: Open to everything.   

Elizabeth: I love that. I love it. And so, who has supported you through this? I mean, is it important for you to have people, you know, on your team that are supporting you? I mean, who really has helped you through this?  

Valerie: My boyfriend, because my boyfriend was like the amazing partner, okay, in my life because for my, I have two kids and the competitions take a lot of time and they will really support me in this. So, "Go, go, go to work, no problem." So, really comprehensive. And I have a lot of French Canadians like I don't like fans, you know, I don't like this word because I have supportive friends who just came here, 24 people, nail techs, came just to support me. And it's touched my heart so much because, yeah, like you see, I cry.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah.  

Valerie: Yeah, I feel sensitive. Not only I feel the love like in my country so it's really nice.  

Elizabeth: That is nice. That is nice. And if you wanted to say something to them in French, you know, just to be able to better explain, I mean, you know, what would you say to all the people that have supported you?  

Valerie: I will say, [speaks in French]. I will just cry, my God.   

Elizabeth: No, no.  

Valerie: [speaks in French] Just that.  

Elizabeth: Oh, yeah. Oh, I love that. Yeah. No, you're making me emotional.   

Valerie: Yeah.  

Elizabeth: No, and I think, you know, this is something that I often talk about which is, being a nail technician.   

Valerie: We're alone.  

Elizabeth: We're alone. Right? We're a little island and there's a lot of competition in our industry. And a lot of times we take that personally and so we feel even more alone. So, we're constantly in our own little island, right?  

Valerie: Yeah.  

Elizabeth: So, I think it's amazing, especially in a competition. That a competition brings out a sense of community rather than separation. So, I think that's amazing.  

Valerie: Ah, it's really amazing because yeah, you feel alone. Of course, you feel really alone. And what is the life if you are alone? You know, like the sharing, like the love sharing, like that, it's like amazing because I feel...I'm not feeling empty. So, I can't feel empty. Like...  

Elizabeth: Oh, that's amazing.  

Valerie:'s give-and-take. I thought it's like you give, the karma thing, I think. I don't know, like, yeah.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, what you give is what you receive, right?  

Valerie: Yeah. And I think in my country was really...have a big heart and soul. A warm people.  

Elizabeth: Warm people.   

Valerie: Yeah, it's really warm people.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, that's amazing. So, what has been something that you feel like has changed in your perspective of the nail industry? I mean, do you see the nail industry the same way that you did six months ago? I mean...  

Valerie: No. I feel I... it's really what I see here like the really talented girl like Hemi and Halley like she has so talent and skill. Really high. I feel like I have a poor industry where I come from and with the nails...with the NTNA, we feel we lost a lot of things that we can...I don't know. Do you understand what I mean?  

Elizabeth: Yes, yes, yes, yes.   

Valerie: You feel it like, yeah.  

Elizabeth: You feel that difference more, right? Like, do you...  

Valerie: Yeah, I feel the difference in...the NTNA showed me how is big is, you know, the nail industry and how you have like a lot of new projects, new person, new...  

Elizabeth: ...opportunity.  

Valerie: ...opportunity and we don't have enough...we feel poor, our nail industry. It's that. NTNA tell me that, okay, you need to do something different to make some little difference.   

Elizabeth: And that you're worth it. That nail techs aren't some low-level, that we're just as amazing as everything else that there is out there. Like for example, would you say that, you know, your idea of nail salons, and nail technicians, was lower before you got into NTNA, that now you see it as nail technicians are high-quality, lots of opportunity, that there's a bigger industry than what you had thought before?  

Valerie: No, it's not that I wanted to say. No, it's not that. I say that I don't think I really understand your question, maybe.  

Elizabeth: No, it's okay.   

Valerie: You were asking me if I...what is...  

Elizabeth: how do how has your vision changed? How do you see...  

Valerie: ...change my vision.   

Elizabeth: ...of the nail industry. Do you think you see it differently now after competing?    Valerie: No, I don't think. No, the same., I feel no, it looks like the same. No, I think so. Yeah, no.   

Elizabeth: And what would you say is something that, you know, after experiencing this, what would you want to tell other nail technicians that are out there? I mean, what would you want to share with other people about your experience? And what would you wanna tell other nail technicians who are listening to you going through this experience?  

Valerie: He wants to try it, if she wants to try?  

Elizabeth: Yeah, sure.  

Valerie: Yeah, just try it, just be...just try different things and be yourself. I don't know just yourself. Be a true person. Be a true person for you if you want to try to compete because you have...everybody have a talent. You can have all first all strength...  

Elizabeth: ...all strengths.  

Valerie: Yeah, but you have strength, so find it and you can apply it. You don't need to have everything because nobody have everything. So...  

Elizabeth: ...use what you have.   

Valerie: Use what you have and push that and push, push, push, and be confident and true. So, if...yeah, you need to do it. You need just for yourself. It's a big adventure and big...?  

Elizabeth: Achievement.  

Valerie: Achievement.   

Elizabeth: Achievement, yeah, that's perfect.   

Valerie: Yes.  

Elizabeth: I'm so excited for you.  

Valerie: Yeah, me too. I'm really excited. I'm really excited and anxious, but I'm really excited too.  

Elizabeth: It's gonna be fun. It's gonna be fun no matter what happens.  

Valerie: Yeah, that's something really surreal.   

Elizabeth: Surreal.  

Valerie: Surreal, it's really surreal because they push you like you turns like all around you and oh, yeah it's for me. It's for all of us. Like it's really...  

Elizabeth: ...the focus is on you.  

Valerie: ...the focus was amazing too. You say, "Oh, my God, it's big, it's big too. I never thought that it was this big." You know, yeah.  

Elizabeth: Yeah, it's exciting.   

Valerie: Yes.  

Elizabeth: Well, I'm so excited to see what happens tonight and I'm so glad I got to meet you in person.   

Valerie: Thank you, yeah.  

Elizabeth: This is so fun.   

Valerie: Thank you so much.   

Elizabeth: Yeah, it was nice chatting with you last night and today. And I wish you the best of luck.   

Valerie: Thank you so much.

 Elizabeth: And I can't wait to see what other amazing stuff you do.    Valerie: Yeah. Thanks, thanks a lot.   

Elizabeth: Anything else you wanna say to everyone who's listening in French, any...   Valerie: I wanna say just thank you, I don't know. Just thank you, nothing, I don't know, yeah, yeah, thank you so much.   

Elizabeth: All right, awesome, thanks, Valerie.  

Valerie: Thanks.   

Elizabeth: Like what you heard? Don't forget to leave a positive review, subscribe and share this podcast with your nail buddies too. You can even tag me in your social post by using #TheNailHub. Have a question or episode request? Send me an email at You can also stay in the know by following me on Instagram and Facebook @thenailhub. Thanks for listening and I can't wait to share even more with you in my next episode.

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