A friend of mine had recommended a “natural” scrub for my spa, which was sand from the ocean with added food coloring to make it appealing. I drove an hour to the Monterey Bay and gathered my sand.  I put in blue food coloring and tried it on my hand to make sure it didn’t discolor my skin — seemed OK. A few days later, I have a new client in my chair, and I try the new foot scrub. As I’m rubbing her foot, I see that her skin is blue! I tried everything  to remove it and nothing worked. When I said, “Please tell me you don’t have anywhere to go tonight,” she laughed and replied, “I’m the chair for our neighborhood watch and we have a meeting tonight at my house.” She assured me she would be back and I’d get a second chance. When she came back three weeks later, her hands were still  blue!
Debbie Escamilla, Hand to Toe Nail Services, Merced, Calif.

My worst nail service disaster was when I was fresh out of nail school. A fellow tech called in sick, leaving me the only one working in the salon. Her client came in, explaining she needed her nails done because her daughter was getting married. I told her I was not experienced in gel nails, but she begged me, saying she needed gel nails and had nowhere else to go, so I succumbed. It turned into the biggest disaster I have ever created! When I was in school over 20 years ago, the only gel they taught was a brush-on polish-like gel that wasn’t cured in a lamp. I had never used traditional gel before until that day. The client left with the biggest uneven mess I have ever made. I was horrified, but she left happy. She became my first regular client!
Vickie Meador, European Body Wraps, Olive Branch, Miss.

I was just out of nail school and had started taking clients in my house. After one service, a client informed me she didn’t have payment and that she would send me an e-transfer. I assumed it was a one-time thing, so I let it slide and she paid me. A few appointments later, this started to turn in to a pattern; she owed me over $100 in unpaid services and still expected me to do her nails. I refused, as I was having trouble collecting from her. She claimed she had mailed me the cash — everyone knows not to mail cash! I never saw the cash she claimed to have sent, so if she really did send it, it got lost in the mail and never arrived. She made no efforts to pay back a single penny, and of course the post office couldn’t track it because it wasn’t a package. Because of that experience, I implemented payment or proof-of-pay before each service. Now that I work at a salon I never have to worry about shady people like that again!, Cynthia Mckenzie-Cook, Modish Nails by Cynthia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The most mortifying, tortuous experience was when I was first out of beauty school, and a woman came into the salon to have her nails soaked off and a new set put on. This was in the 1980s when there wasn’t a nail salon on every corner, and most people in our area had never even seen nail enhancements. At that time I was doing hair, but because I was the only one in the salon who liked to do nails, the manager gave me the client. Unbeknownst to everyone, I’d never actually soaked off nails before. Going by memory of what our school books taught, I poured the acetone into a bowl and sat the client down to soak off. Shortly thereafter, acetone was leaking all over the nail table and floor because I’d used a plastic bowl, which then had a big hole melted into the bottom of it! I had to run out and  buy a metal bowl to finish up the soak off process. It took HOURS!
Jill Wright, Jill’s — A Place for Nails, , Bowling Green, Ky.

Next question: Do you socialize with your clients outside of the salon? Why or why not? [Answers will be printed in the June 2015 issue.] Share your opinion on the topic by e-mailing your response by March 15 to Tracy.Rubert@bobit.com. Please include your name, salon, city and state, social media handles, and a high-resolution headshot with your response.

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