NTNA Winner Inspires Career Change

After winning the 2015 NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition, Lavette Cephus made it her goal to inspire other nail techs to excel. She hadn’t anticipated having a similar effect on her clients. But not long after her win, a longtime client named Latina Jett (“Tina” to her friends) left her job as a hospital security guard to go to nail school. In August, Jett graduated from the Toledo Academy of Beauty Culture (the same school Lavette attended) and got her license. Soon after, she began work as a tech at Lavette’s Toledo-based salon, Beautè Asylum.

NAILS asked Latina to tell us five things she learned from her mentor, Lavette, about succeeding in the beauty business. We also asked Lavette to share five things she wants her protégé, Latina, to know as she embarks on her new career.

Latina Jett

Latina Jett


My experiences since becoming Lavette’s client have been nothing but inspirational, uplifting, and trend-setting stylish! Her victory as NAILS Next Top Nail Artist became my motivation to get involved in the beauty industry. Who could have known that after all those times sitting in Lavette’s chair getting a fill that I would wind up a licensed Manager Manicurist in the same salon? Now I have my own chair at Beautè Asylum as part of the style team. Lavette Cephus has been a friend, a mentor, and is now my boss! Here are some of the things I learned from her along the way:

1. When she upgraded my nail enhancement services, she introduced me to new and better trends. That was one of the ways she encouraged me to always aim high.

2. Your best investment is in yourself. Lavette taught me to use professional equipment and professional supplies.

3. She always remained stylish in her appearance and I believe that is one thing that sets her apart.

4. I’ve learned techniques that make services quicker, but don’t compromise quality or make the client feel rushed. 

5. Giving back is important. Lavette openly shares her knowledge with anyone who is thinking about entering the beauty industry. Also, giving back to the community is a big part of being on the Beautè Asylum team.

Lavette Cephus

Lavette Cephus


When Tina came to me and told me she wanted to become a nail technician, I could’ve screamed right there in the salon. She had been my client for a while, so I was sooo excited when she expressed interest in the very thing that brought us together. I know from my own experience that this journey can be a tough one, but I have a few gems of knowledge that helped me and I want to share them with her:

1.Be innovative. This industry is fast paced and every day a new trend pops up. Stay in the mix, but don’t forget to explore and showcase your own creativity.

2. Never stop educating yourself. There is not a tech in the industry who doesn’t need a few lessons. You can always be improving. And you can be sure that if you’re not, the next tech is!

3. Network. I have met so many people by just introducing myself. People are willing to help if you make yourself available. 

4. Not everyone is your friend. Overall the nail industry has been pretty friendly to me, but always keep a watchful eye and stay true to your own principles. 

5. You can go as far as you want to go in this industry. The nail industry has so many opportunities, even ones that take you out of the salon. After I won last year’s Next Top Nail Artist competition, a new world was opened up to me. I’ve created nails for New York Fashion Week and even been honored as a NEXTGEN artist — things I never thought I would do.

6. A bonus, but very important: Tina, I need you to know that I believe in you. In fact, it’s people like you who inspire me. Continue to go hard for your dreams and know that I’ve got your back! Welcome to the Beautè Asylum style team, Tina!