One way to get ahead in your career is to learn from someone who has been through it all. Mentors can kickstart your professional path. They know what it takes to make it and can share lessons learned so you can try to avoid making similar mistakes even though sometimes, they’re inevitable.

In the pursuit of a dream, it’s easy to get distracted, discouraged, and maybe even disappointed. A mentor can help you stay focused, provide advice and honest feedback, spark inspiration, and more importantly, teach you how build confidence.

If you don’t have a mentor, put yourself out there and find one. In this digital age it’s particularly easy to connect with experts who are willing to share their experience in an attempt to elevate the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask a role model for guidance. She was once in your shoes.

Once you achieve your goals, pay it forward. Take a look back on your journey and discover you’re now in the position to give someone else a helping hand. We asked mentor and mentee nail techs, what’s the most important thing they’ve learned from the career-benefiting relationship?

Here’s what they said.

"My nail mentor is Lulu Cooper (above left) from Parisian Beauty Academy. One of the best things she has taught me is to just do it! No matter how nervous or scared you are, you just have to go for it! I was so scared in the beginning with clients, but I had to just go for it and be confident. I made a lot of mistakes, but I also learned so much from them. So, just be confident and do what you love!" 

Jessica Chung
Ridgefield, N.J.

"The most important thing I learned from my competition mentor Guin Littlefield (above right) was confidence! It’s something you gain with tons of practice, information, and a bit of faking it if you’re not an overly confident person. She prepared me for competing to the point that even though I wasn’t sure my skills were competition-ready, I knew I was ready."

Holly Schippers
FingerNailFixer, Bussey, Iowa

"My inspiration and interest in the nail industry came from Maureen Volpe (above left) at the age of 9. I was fortunate enough to be brought into her life by her son bringing me home to meet his family. At the time, Maureen had two successful nail salons. I was mesmerized by watching her settle problems with staff, clients, and business over the phone. I would think to myself, how can one women be so smart, driven, confident, and passionate? My goal was to be just like her someday.

Thankfully, she saw my determination and willingness to learn. When I turned fifteen, she asked me to work in her salon. She allowed me to come to the salon after school and practice, as I was hoping for the opportunity to work on a real person. It took me two years until I felt comfortable doing nails. Maureen was there to encourage me every step of the way.

The lessons she instilled became very important in my latest venture: designing, patenting, and marketing my wrist-assist tool. I came up with the idea when a muscular syndrome made it almost impossible for me to do nails. I knew I needed a device that would support and raise the client’s wrist, yet would still allow the fingers to move freely in all directions. This tool gave me immediate relief and allowed me to continue in a career that I loved. It was only natural to want to share this with other technicians, knowing that if it could help me it could also help others.

To hear Maureen say that she is proud of me makes it all worth it. I know I speak for many people (especially in this industry) when I say thank you, Maureen, for instilling the courage in me to dream big, work hard, and share the success. I pay it forward by giving great customer service to my clients, mentoring, and teaching about the importance of safe work habits to have a long career in our industry."

Robin Stopper Renner
Mount Dora, Fla.

"I believe I have the most awesome teacher that anyone can find. I have a thriving business and I owe so much to my teacher and mentor, Veronica Styles (above left). Veronica owns and operates Westland Beauty Academy in Lakewood, Colo. Her school is unique and caters to the working person who wants to take a new direction in life and explore the world of cosmetology. The freedom I had at this school to work and learn on my own time afforded me with an awesome experience and an in-depth look at the industry.

While she personally leans on the more traditional side of nails, she was incredibly supportive of my exploration of 3-D nails. The instruction was incredible and the education was great but what I loved the most was her years of experience. I learned such valuable information just from our chats. I would ask her all kinds of questions about the industry and she was like an encyclopedia. She taught me not to be scared of feet! I thought it was impossible.

She’s always there for me and she’s encouraging. I think the biggest thing I took away from learning from Veronica is learning we should hang up our aprons because this industry is about education and growth. I owe the success of my business and my knowledge of nails to her!

While I believe a tangible mentor is fantastic for one-on-one training, I also feel that an online mentorship can be just as beneficial. I have a strong line of communication on Facebook and through text with an incredible woman named Rose Velez-Miggins, of Philadelphia. She helps me navigate the professional nail world and has tons of product knowledge. I love the friendship we have created. We’ve had the opportunity to meet in person but most of our correspondence happens online. If someone feels like they live in an area where they can’t get find a mentor, they shouldn’t worry. Because of social media, anyone can connect to other nail techs or through chat rooms and forums. There are tons of people with years of knowledge who are willing to give you friendly advice. You just need to put yourself out there and be willing and ready to learn."

Rachael Waggoner
Dazzlin’ Digits 3-D Nails, Lakewood, Colo.

"Maeling Parrish (above right), the dean of education at USA Hand and Nail Harmony, has and always will be my mentor. She’s the reason I am where I am today. She’s given me so many opportunities in this industry even though I still consider myself a newbie. She’s opened doors for me that have changed my life forever. It brings me to tears when I speak about how much she means to me. She reminds me that even though I don’t feel like I’m talented and good, there are people that look up to me. So she’s taught me to believe in myself, especially as an educator."

Bryan Vu
Oviedo Nail Bar & Body Waxing, Oviedo, Fla.

"I would have to give credit to my former teacher Susan Cap (above left). She taught me everything I know and introduced me to nail art beyond my imagination. I continue to rely on her for everything from business ventures that have taken place to troubles with nail clients seeking new products. She most graciously continues to answer all my questions as a new nail tech. Being a nail instructor is not only her job, but it is also her passion and I am extremely grateful to have her to call upon any time I need."

Eva Jenkins
Extraordinary Nails by Eva, Bellevue, Neb.

"My mentor is Margaret Thomas-Gite (above left). She has been my inspiration and awesome mentor for most of my nail career. Margaret has taught me so much; however, the best and most important thing I have learned from her is positivity. She taught me that what you put into the universe comes back ten-fold. She’s helped guide me into a new way of thinking, which has opened up so many more doors for me, not only in my nail career, but in my life. I can’t thank Margaret enough for providing me with the knowledge and suggestions that have helped mold me into the nail technician I am today."

Nicole Saldaña
Colie’s Nails, Whittier, Calif.

"I was so fortunate to have an amazing nail instructor while getting licensed in nail artistry. Ms. Betsy Chevalier (above left) is extremely knowledgeable and talented, and she was so encouraging and supportive of my goals. She has helped by giving me advice throughout my career and continues to be an important mentor in my life. The most valuable thing she has taught me is that if you are passionate about something, it will show through your work and your clients will absolutely recognize it!"

Monica Hues
freelance nail artist, New York City

"A while ago, when I was very active with my salon and working for OPI as an educator and guest artist, I had plenty of students and other nail techs ask if they could shadow me in my salon. My answer was yes, if my customers felt comfortable with it, no problem. I may have had one or two people call me to find out what was involved and when they might possibly be able to come in. But not one of them ever showed up to actually do anything about it. Then, my girlfriend’s daughter, Tamara Armstrong (above left), asked even before she was in nail tech school if she could shadow me. I said yes.

So once she was certified, she actually showed up! She would watch me do manicures and artificial enhancements. She would listen to how we interacted with customers, both regulars and newcomers alike, and she would watch. She would answer the phones, and watch some more. She would set up our pedicures, sweep the floors, and watch me some more. She would greet customers, make them tea, and watch some more. And when she had met everyone and they all felt comfortable, she would do my prep work for me.

Well, when I retired and started travelling with my husband, Tamara was there, willing and very capable to take care of my wonderful customers. I felt a lot more at ease leaving my longterm customers (many of whom I love and am still friends with), knowing that Tamara was there to see to their needs. Tamara stayed in the same salon, renting a space from the remaining partner of Shannon’s Nail and Jessica’s Esthetic’s Salon.

As time went on, Tamara wanted to have a space to call her own to design and create her very own salon. Once she found the perfect space, voila! Tamara’s Nail Salon came into existence. While in Canada, I finally got to see her very own space. Honestly, when I walked into the salon, I started crying! I felt like my baby had grown up and moved out of the house!"

Shannon Rooney
Seriously Nails, Las Vegas

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