With this economy, many nail techs have had to come up with new and clever ways to get their names out about their services into their communities, and for many nail techs who operate in out-of-the-norm locations, this can lead to interesting business plans. From nail techs who volunteer in local youth organizations, to techs who travel to senior homes or fashion shows, there are always ways to tap into a yet unseen clientele. 

 

Okinawa Set-Stunner

Cecilia Bustamante is currently working in Okinawa, Japan, serving a large clientele of military families stationed in the city. Bustamante has been stationed here with her husband Rogelio since 2009. “Other than Japanese people of course, Okinawa is mostly filled with bases of different military branches that are home for many U.S. military families,” says Bustamante.

Cecilia Bustamante works from her home on base. She got her clientele from her Facebook page and by inviting the local military women for free services, which led to many referrals and, within eight months, a full book.

Cecilia Bustamante works from her home on base. She got her clientele from her Facebook page and by inviting the local military women for free services, which led to many referrals and, within eight months, a full book.

The biggest challenge was starting from zero in a foreign city with no clientele or referrals. Her wine rack became her shelving and storage unit, and her manicure table was a small school desk she bought to reduce space and cost.

To add to the struggle, major distributors do not ship products to Okinawa, so Bustamante occasionally has had to travel to Guam to get products.

Cecilia Bustamante, her husband Sgt. Rogelio Pagan, and daughter Sofia, have been in Okinawa, Japan, since 2009 for Rogelio’s Army assignment. Here they are at Shurijo Castle Park.

Cecilia Bustamante, her husband Sgt. Rogelio Pagan, and daughter Sofia, have been in Okinawa, Japan, since 2009 for Rogelio’s Army assignment. Here they are at Shurijo Castle Park.

Nobody thought she would have such success in such a short time. It’s been only eight months and Bustamante already has a steady clientele of about 30 ladies she sees at least once a month.

Cecilia Bustamante enjoys the sights of Kokusai Street in Naha.

Cecilia Bustamante enjoys the sights of Kokusai Street in Naha.

Bustamante sees military wives throughout their husbands’ service, from their sad days when the husbands are deployed to the joyful returns. “It’s really such a pleasure for me to work for my fellow military wives and somehow contribute to their well being,” she says. “I know by personal experience how hard this can be, so pampering them with a simple pedicure or manicure can do a lot to lift their spirits, and I’m proud of what I do for them.” 

 

The Senior Home Nail Techs

Elle Lopez and Nia Cooper are both nail techs who go to senior centers to service the elderly residents there. Lopez services the Grand Court Elderly Center in Phoenix and Cooper goes to the Senior Assisted Retreat in Washington D.C. They each have become successful in cultivating a steady income from their resident clients, but challenges can come up.

Elle Lopez primarily does natural nails, but a few clients wear acrylics or fiberglass wraps with gel.

Elle Lopez primarily does natural nails, but a few clients wear acrylics or fiberglass wraps with gel.

Lopez’s biggest challenge has been servicing the clients who have severe hand tremors and shake, so she has to take extra care and precaution. And it can also be challenging because she has to improvise where she does the nails since she doesn’t have an official workstation. She usually sits at a little café-type table with the client on one side and herself on the other.

For Nia Cooper, working in senior living communities came later in her career, after she had done mobile volunteer work. “Business has been amazing,” she says, “and I definitely recommend other techs cultivate a senior clientele.”

For Nia Cooper, working in senior living communities came later in her career, after she had done mobile volunteer work. “Business has been amazing,” she says, “and I definitely recommend other techs cultivate a senior clientele.”

Each tech finds this work sincerely rewarding. Says Cooper, “The lovely ladies who I have been pampering are all a joy to be around and to work with. I have learned a lot about life from them. They all love the time I spend with them while I am there, and they look forward to the next visit.”

And Lopez says of her time spent, “It’s inevitable that my ladies won’t be my clients forever, but I definitely make them feel like a queen each and every two weeks until they go to heaven, and then I will still do their nails once I catch up with them there.”

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Northern Tech-Sposure

Nikki Humpherville Clifton comes from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, which is in a secluded location. (The closest Wal-Mart is an hour and a half away.) It’s on the Alaskan border and predominantly a First Nations (Native American) community.

Nikki Humpherville Clifton (third from right) volunteers with the Rupert Chicks organization, which teaches young girls in Alaska how to live a healthy life and cultivate technical skills like cosmetology.

Nikki Humpherville Clifton (third from right) volunteers with the Rupert Chicks organization, which teaches young girls in Alaska how to live a healthy life and cultivate technical skills like cosmetology.

Clifton volunteers for Rupert Chicks, which is a local group for girls ages 17 and under, where they do group activities like listen to speakers who  promote a good quality of life, have dinner together, cook and clean, and learn about a healthy balanced diet.

“I went to them and did mini manicures and nail art and spoke about how I was 19 when I first got interested in school. I told them about the steps I took to get funding from a local association called Metis, which helps aid native peoples, and used that to help pay my tuition at esthetician school,” Clifton says.

Giving back to the community has helped spread Clifton’s name to others about her services. This year she even helped two girls meeting Metis requirements get funding for esthetics and nail school, and she says it feels great.

Clifton had a home-based business for the last three years while having children, but since February she has opened her very own nails and esthetics salon. “It’s basically just me working in the shop and it’s small but very comfortable and cute,” she says, “And people know me from the work I’ve done so I’ve kept pretty busy.”

 

Mumbai Fashion

Schèrézaad Panthaki works as a celebrity manicurist in Mumbai, India, servicing many of the country’s top Bollywood actresses for filming and events, as well as a healthy clientele of regular appointments. “There isn’t a specific style of nails here, but clients prefer the gels and acrylic traditional methods and the French tips,” she says. “The nail art designs are quite traditional and Indian when given the option and occasion.”

Schèrézaad Panthaki (left) working on-location with Indian actress Vidya Balan.

Schèrézaad Panthaki (left) working on-location with Indian actress Vidya Balan.

India does not have a licensing requirement so nail education is pretty limited, but over the past five years Panthaki says more and more private salons and spa chains are offering basic cosmetology courses and giving out certificates for completion.

Schèrézaad Panthaki takes regular appointments at her home salon in Mumbai, India, and makes a quick pedicure station out of a mobile footbath and comfy bed.

Schèrézaad Panthaki takes regular appointments at her home salon in Mumbai, India, and makes a quick pedicure station out of a mobile footbath and comfy bed.

Panthaki received her education while she was living in the United States (in Phoenix). When she moved back to India, she started working at a Hilton hotel located in downtown Mumbai. Soon after, she created a buzz with her work and word of mouth soon took her to freelance jobs throughout the city, doing photo shoots, fashion work, editorial, and more.

Schèrézaad Panthaki has been doing nails for 12 years and enjoys creating subtle nail art designs that are noticeable without being extravagant.

Schèrézaad Panthaki has been doing nails for 12 years and enjoys creating subtle nail art designs that are noticeable without being extravagant.

Panthaki handles standing appointments in her home salon and then travels as a mobile tech for her celebrity and fashion work. The challenge, she says, comes during the fashion industry’s off-season when it can be harder to secure appointments. But overall she’s very satisfied with her career and hopes to one day open a salon of her own in India.