The Academy of Nail Design (TAOND) owner Jennifer Ponzi transforms students into nail professionals from a computer screen, despite online education opponents in the nail industry. Unlike most nail schools, TAOND offers full comprehensive and professional training programs online. Students across the globe are afforded the opportunity to perfect nail skills at their own pace.
THE SWITCH TO ONLINE
Prior to 2000, licensing in Canada was scarce and there was a need for a professional nail program. Ponzi responded by opening TAOND in 2000 offering in-class diploma programs. The school created an online version of its nail program after receiving feedback from students unable to attend in-class sessions.
“We were receiving calls from students all over the world who had no access to professional training programs, so in 2004 we launched our very first online nail program,” Ponzi says. “Then, in 2010 went completely online.”
The online Full Professional Certificate Program curriculum is based off the award-winning in-class program. Courses cover all aspects of the nail industry from application processes for basic and spa manicures and pedicures to fiberglass, acrylic, and UV Gel enhancements.
SETTING THE GOLD STANDARD
Under the online program, Ponzi says students are held to a higher standard to compete with misconceptions from the industry that students are unable to learn how to perfect nail skills online, on their own.
“The majority of these misconceptions stem from folks who don’t understand how our programs work, and the support, professional products, and step-by-step instruction we provide to each of our students,” she says.
Compared to a typical classroom program, the online courses require students to complete five times more practical work. Having taught both in-class and online, Ponzi found that students perform better in an at-home atmosphere than in class. “Our students are in control of their learning situation and choose to really focus on doing well in our programs given the fact that they may not have any other training options available to them.”
MORE THAN JUST A JOB
The school offers a mini certificate program focused on specialty applications including natural nail care, UV gel, and acrylic. Additionally, individuals already working in the nail industry can enroll in the Master Certificate program to enhance their current professional status.
“Just For Fun” online programs are designed for students who are interested in learning the business and professional processes of nail applications for their own knowledge and use — or just for fun.
An online student resource center with articles is available to students for opening their own businesses, how to price their services, and other helpful materials. Ponzi also teaches the Module 1 - Today’s Nail Professional course focused on different career options within the nail industry beyond working in a salon every day.
“We give students an opportunity to learn that there are several facets to becoming a nail professional and that it is more than just a job — it is a great career,” Ponzi says. “I find this module most exciting because our students have light bulb’ moments about what a career in the nail industry can truly be.”
A majority of TAOND graduates go on to open their own businesses or work in high-profile salons.
TAOND is helping to grow the number of online training businesses with the launch of E-Learn Beauty Solutions, a branch of the company aimed at helping other schools create their own online training solutions.
“Students are extremely interested in online solutions, and we feel every beauty school should offer a complete or at least partial online option for their students,” Ponzi says.
Nail school: The Academy of Nail Design
Location: Meaford, Ontario, Canada
Owner: Jennifer Ponzi
Opened: January 2000
Number of hours to complete the nail course: 400
Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series spotlighting successful nail programs. To nominate a nail program for an article, please e-mail sree.roy[at]bobit.com.
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