What’s your favorite part about owning a nail school?
Absolutely everything! I actually never thought this is where my life would take me. I did nails for my sister Monica Bruin at her salon for more than 20 years. She owned the school and I worked for her in the office. She passed away from breast cancer five years ago. Before she passed away she asked if I wanted to buy the school. At that point I was running it anyway because she was too sick to come in. Running the school has been a blessing for me because I think of her every day and wonder if she is watching. I love my staff; they are my family too! And I absolutely love the students. It is such a joy for me to come to work every day and get to know each class, month after month. My sister taught me so much about this industry and I am forever grateful. I can’t imagine my life without the school.
What sets your nail program apart from those of other schools?
We are a nails-only school. There are only a few in Utah that I know of. Our program is 300 hours and you can be licensed and working in as little as two to four months. We focus on nails only. My instructors originally came to the school to become nail technicians and all of them later became nail instructors because they enjoyed being here so much. We are a small school but I feel it is very personable here. When our students graduate it is often hard for us to see them leave because we have all become a family.
What are the highlights of your curriculum?
We focus on a lot of nail art because that is what the public really likes right now. We make the lessons exciting and have interactive lessons. Each month, when we do our calendars for our classes, we often incorporate some type of food for the day, because we all love to eat! Example: Pedicures and Pizza, Chicken and Chapters, Cookie Nail Art, Hot Dogs and Homework, 7 Layers of Skin/7 Layer Dip, and many others.
What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?
I personally teach most chapters that do not involve the demos, probably because I love to talk. I teach Professional Image, Communication, Life Skills, Getting a job, etc.. I love teaching these classes; they are the classes my sister taught. I talk about her probably in every lesson. I hear her voice coming out of my mouth! I love talking about my own personal stories from my life and history of doing nails with my students.
Can you give me a brief history of your career path?
Back in 1984, my sister Monica came to me and asked if I wanted to learn how to do nails. My first reaction was no, only because I really had never heard of it. But because she is my older sister, she convinced me to do it. I actually hated it at first but I caught on very fast and was doing nails in her salon, Color My Nails, in Midvale, Utah. I worked alongside her for 20 years or so. I enjoyed it so much and I feel so lucky that that was my career. I loved working with her and my younger sister, Traci, who still does nails. I left the salon and did nails out of my house for a few years before my sister asked me to come to work for her at the school in 2005. I helped out in the office and eventually learned to do everything.
How has your sister shaped who you are today, as a nail technician and a salon owner?
I always accused her of being a workaholic and she was always so busy. She was a member of the Cosmetology Board for eight years. At the time I had no idea what that was. She was a member of the Utah School Owners Association. During all this time she suffered with breast cancer for 20 years, but she just kept going. She would always say I would rather die in my office chair than in my bed. I am now a member of the Cosmetology Board and the Utah School Owners Association and I have to laugh because I never imagined myself doing any of those things. But I absolutely love it and I see why she loved what she did, because I do too. So many times when I am teaching lessons the things I say are things I heard her say in her lessons. Dressing professionally and teaching the students why looking your best is so important in the beauty industry was very important for her and now I understand why she focused on that so much. Looking your best is how you need to come to work every day.
What’s your salon’s town, Midvale, like?
Midvale is a great little town. We have been at this location since it opened.
What are your students like?
My students are awesome. Most are young but we have had some students come through the school as old as 65, who finished and got licensed. It’s so fun working with the different personalities. I often talk about generational differences and that really shows in the age of students. Younger students are a lot different from the older students. That’s only because they come from different generations. I enjoy all of them and it saddens me when their graduation day approaches because I really miss them.
Do you help your students find jobs after graduation? Do you ever keep up with them?
Yes we do. I happen to know many salon owners around town and I will have them come in and talk to the students every month about their salons and about hiring. Many owners will contact me and tell me they need more nail techs and I give my students the information. It really isn’t hard to find a job. The key for the nail tech is to stick to it regardless if they have appointments or not. That’s why so many girls have a hard time making it — they won’t stick it out and stay at the salon even if they don’t have a client. I also believe that if the nail technician doesn’t look her very best she will struggle. I tell my students that 15% of the reason a client stays with you is because you do good nail; the other 85% is your appearance, how you are dressed, your personality, how you treat the client, how important she feels while getting her nails done. I know a lot of people who make a lot of money doing nails. It is a great job to have! Yes, I do keep track of where they are working and if they ever got licensed. This is a requirement with NACCAS (National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences). Sometimes the students will inquire about jobs on Facebook and I make recommendations for salons that I know that are hiring.
What are some challenges you’ve encountered in managing your school?
Probably the first challenge was understanding what NACCAS (the company that accredits our school) is all about. I had to learn about all the rules and regulations and staying current with what they expect schools to do. Now that I understand it, it’s pretty easy. Running the school has had its financial challenges in the beginning but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love my job!
How has business been?
Business is pretty good. Of course it could always be busier. We average about 10 new students a month. We can always take more.
What do you see happening in the future?
Just keep on improving on what we can. As instructors, it is very important to keep up with our continued education. So attending these classes each year is so very important. It kind of gives each of us a boost and gives us new ideas for teaching. We are always looking for ways to change up the lessons. Hopefully we will continue on the path that we are on and keep improving every day!
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