What is it like to be a part of the Harmony educator team?
It’s like being a part of the best nail family in the business. And every member of the family is rooting for you and willing to share everything they know just to help you achieve your next goal. I have been blessed with many wonderful experiences as a Harmony educator — from traveling the country, to training with the best technicians and educators from all over the globe, to meeting some of my closest friends. It’s hard to put into words what it means to be a part of this team; it is both very humbling and a great source of pride.
How long have you been a nail tech and what were you doing before?
I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and no, I do not mean that reality TV show. I am a Jersey girl through and through. I say all the time, “Jersey — it’s not an accent. It’s an attitude!” I’ve been married 21 years, and we have four kids, ranging in age from 16 to 25. I’ve been a licensed nail technician since 1999. I had a whole other career before nails. I originally went to school for fashion merchandising but wound up working in property management until I was almost 33. I was responsible for managing townhome and condo associations. I liked it well enough but it required me to be available weekends, late nights, and on-call, something I wasn’t willing to do, especially because my husband and I wanted a larger family. I realized I needed a career that could fit into my life rather than a job I had to fit my life around. I had always loved helping my friends “beautify” themselves: hair, makeup, nails, clothes, etc. So getting my cosmetology license seemed to make sense. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I decided to go to the county vocational school that offered adult evening classes.
After receiving my license, I worked in a full-service salon for five years. I didn’t care much for the owner of that salon or her professional work ethic (or lack thereof). It was valuable lessons in not letting anyone else set or lower your standards for you, so I decided to go out on my own. I have run a successful private salon for more than 10 years.
When did you start doing nails and what inspired you to start?
Ironically, doing nails wasn’t a specific passion of mine. When I set out to get my license I wanted to get my full cosmetology license; however, when I went to register, the class I needed was already full with 20 people on a wait list. The vocational school offered to let me take the 300 hour nail class instead and apply those hours to my cosmetology class that I could take the following spring. Once I started the nail class, it all just clicked. I loved it. Without even realizing it, I had found my passion and I have never looked back. I never did get my full license, but it’s on my bucket list!
How do you find inspiration for different nail art designs?
For Fashion Week, inspiration often comes from patterns in the clothing or from the designer’s story of inspiration for the collection. But inspiration for nail art can come from anywhere and everywhere. Whatever you see, feel, or imagine can be made into beautiful and creative nail art. And one of the great benefits of working with so many talented artists is that when you run out of ideas you can call up your nail guru friends and ask for their inspiration.
What was your first educator training like?
It was nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at the same time! When I saw the talent in the room I thought, “Surely some mistake has been made! I don’t belong here; I’m not good enough to be here.” As the training progressed, I realized little by little that not only was I enjoying it but I also wanted to be able to share what I was learning with other nail techs. That first training was when I realized that there was so much more to the nail business and I wanted to learn it all and share it with anyone who would listen.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Making sure that I get in enough practice time to keep my skills up. I take classes whenever possible. Unfortunately, most of the classes I want to take are during show season, so it can be a real challenge to coordinate my schedule with available classes.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
As an educator the most fulfilling part of my job is knowing I’ve inspired someone to reach higher. It is so uplifting when another nail professional shares with me that something I said during a class or training has reached them on some level and has sparked a new excitement in them about doing nails.
Who is your nail mentor? Who inspires you?
Tom Holcomb was and still is a huge inspiration to me, not only as a nail artist but also as an educator. I am blessed to work with nail professionals from all over the world who are hugely talented and extremely generous with their knowledge. Each one who has shared their talents with me is a mentor and an inspiration.
You Might also Like: Inspiring Instructor: Q & A with Tracy Balistreri
Do you know an inspiring instructor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have them featured in NAILS' Nail School News.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.