Sixteen years ago long-time nail tech Tina Williams opened TW Nail Technology Inc., a nighttime nail school she runs out of her Fishkill, N.Y.-based salon.
Four nights a week, budding nail techs learn anatomy, bacteriology, sanitation laws, mani/pedis, tip application, nail wraps, sculptured nails, gel nails, nail art, and nail brushing. The 16-week program is offered twice a year and can be completed either from September to December or from February to June.
Williams worked as an educator for CND for 11 years prior to opening TW. “Training with CND was like going to nail college. If there ever was such a thing as ‘nail college,’ that was it,” Williams says. From that point onward, she always knew education would be a substantial component of her business. “It was just something I had to do, so I contacted the state, designed the curriculum, and got the space approved. It took us about a year to set up.”
Smaller than most nail or cosmetology schools, TW only sees about 12 new students each year. Williams is the sole teacher and takes a maximum of eight students per class. “It’s a different school we’re running here,” Williams says. “Big schools are the McDonalds of nail education, whereas we’re the mom-and-pop shop.”
Williams wanted to establish a more intimate learning space where students could ask questions and receive one-on-one training. The first hour and a half of each class is a theory lecture and the second hour and a half is practical learning. Williams walks the floor, giving each student individual attention as they practice.
Humble in demeanor, Williams says she strives to keep her program unpretentious. “It’s a four-month program, but it goes by really fast because it’s not like going to nail school. We all get on that same level together. No one feels like I’m the queen bee because I get in the trenches with them and I’m patient with everybody.”
Williams’ program attracts a wide variety of students from nail fanatics and stay-at-home moms to dental hygienists who want a career change.
The total cost of the program is $2,991, which includes kits and books; a payment plan is available. According to Williams, TW is roughly the same price as other nail schools in the state even though students are receiving a more personal experience.
“I’m only able to offer this because I keep my day job,” says Williams, who works full time as a nail tech in her salon during the day alongside three other manicurists.
TEACHING THE TRADE
Williams’ syllabus is focused on practical application. “We teach state-of-the-art techniques that aren’t in the typical nail school curriculum,” Williams says. “Students learn to do things like mix custom colors and make custom acrylics. TW is a working salon, so I teach them everything they’ll have to know how to do in a salon.”
Barbara Del Duca, owner of Silvernails and Beauty in Pine Plains, N.Y., and graduate of the TW nail program, told NAILS: “Unlike a typical cosmo class, I was taught by someone who has spent her life at her craft. I consider myself lucky to have been trained by her and am grateful for the ongoing mentoring she offers when needed for this ever-changing business. This gal is the real deal, a master creative tech.”
Williams also offers continuing education, an additional summer body waxing course — which takes only 48 hours for already licensed nail techs to complete — and discounted salon services performed by students.
Acting as salon owner, program director, and school principal has been a challenging role for Williams, but she manages to sustain a large following of customers and nail techs and has plans to continually advance her program.
“I make a plan and work on it every single day,” Williams says. “You fake it until you make it, and then one day you’ve kind of made it and you didn’t even realize you were there. This is also a philosophy I share with my students.”
Nail school: TW Nail Technology Inc.
Location: Fishkill, N.Y.
Owner: Tina Williams
Square footage: 2,000
Opened: January 1996
Number of employees: 1 (Tina) for nail school; 3 nail techs for salon
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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