Owner and principal Moana Kida opened La Mer Nail Institute last January in order to provide aspiring nail technicians a place where they could enjoy learning and receive quality education under passionate instructors. Nail School News recently spoke with Mark Matsukawa, administrative director of the Honolulu-based school.
Q: Where exactly is the school located and why did you choose the location? What is the square footage?
A: We are located at 320 Ward Avenue in the beautiful Kaka’ako district of Honolulu between Ala Moana Shopping Center and downtown Honolulu. We chose this location because students can commute easily, there are many lunch/dinner options close by, and the neighborhood is becoming a center of creativity and inspiration that we wanted to be a part of. Our space is 1,923 sq. ft.
Q: What sets La Mer’s nail program apart from that of other schools? What is the number of hours required to complete the nail course?
A: Our curriculum and tests are constantly updated to include the latest trends in the nail industry. We incorporate reflexology into our manicure and pedicure massages to maximize the benefit with little-to- no stress on the technician. We also carry various product brands so that our students can familiarize themselves and find ones they like. We allow students to progress at their own speed. They may come in early or stay later after the class to graduate as fast as possible and move onto their careers. We also have staff who speak Japanese, including the instructors. It helps us to know the trends in Japan and helps Japanese students who do not speak English well feel comfortable. The course requires 350 hours to complete.
Q: What are some of the highlights of your curriculum?
A: We focus on practical experience and repetition to build their confidence. Once students complete the theory portion of the curriculum, they will have the opportunity to practice hands-on in our student salon, which is designed to simulate a high-end salon atmosphere to nurture professionalism and pride in our students.
Q: Does La Mer have an affiliated salon? What other services does it offer?
A: Not at the moment. We do have a student salon that is open to the public, which uses only salon quality products such as OPI, Essie, VETRO, Gelish, etc.
Q: What are some challenges you’ve encountered in managing your school?
A: I would say one of the challenges we have had so far is managing many different personalities. Each student has her own personality and self-confidence level, so finding a balance of how to treat each student has been a great learning process.
Q: How is business? Have you seen an increase over the past year?
A: Even though we have just opened the school early this year, we have seen an increase in attendance. We hope to see lots more in the future!
Q: How do you assist your students in finding jobs after graduation?
A: We call salons that students are interested in, invite salon owners to visit the student salon, and post ads on our bulletin board.
Q: How do you stay abreast of what’s happening in the nail/beauty industry?
A: We try to go to at least two beauty shows a year: one in the US and one in Japan. We are always searching the Internet and asking our beauty supply houses about new products they are bringing in and, of course, reading NAILS Magazine!
Q: Any future school plans you would like to share with our readers?
A: We are always improving our school and always on the lookout for new trends. We hope to be able to accept students who are from foreign countries and military spouses in the future.
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