“If I had a nickel for every time I scheduled an appointment at the bank, I’d be a rich woman,” says Erika Terzani, a nail tech in Fort Morgan, Colo., population 11,000. “Being in a small town, you run into clients all the time, which can be beneficial from a business standpoint because you get to remind them to make an appointment, but on the flip side it becomes difficult to actually get away from work.” Such is a common sentiment among small-town techs across the U.S. From coal-mining towns in the West to antebellum-origin streets in the South, it’s likely that a fully active nail technician is out there somewhere, working away on a happy-handed clientele. She’s there with her own marketing plans, her own way of keeping her menu fresh while adhering to the comforting classic desires of her clients, and her own way of educating herself and keeping her skills tight and sharp.

In a way, these techs are the “everyday” nail technician. The nail tech next door. The nail tech in every town who has chosen to make her living behind a manicuring table so she can support her family and her community — and be proud of it.

Darla Henninger-Haught

Walsenburg, Colo.

Population: 4,200

In its heyday, more than 500 million tons of coal were shoveled out of Walsenburg before its quarries closed. The town encompasses no more than two-and-a-half square miles near the entrance to Lathrop State Park and its lakes of prudent fish, but on the corner of Albert Avenue and 7th Street, Darla Henninger-Haught’s BloomingNails has the customers biting.  “The first thing I did when I opened my salon was join the Chamber of Commerce,” says Haught. “I do gift certificates, fliers, and of course word of mouth, which has been a great way to spread the news about my pedicures, which rock.” Since turning onto the Young Nails brand, Haught has been doing acrylic sets and even getting clients to try out glitters and colored French looks.

Currently Haught hasn’t had to compete much for business and she’s had great success with her moderate pricing and above-par leg massages. “I really wish I could find someone to booth-rent from me,” says Haught. “I have to turn people away quite often.”

And as her community supports her, Haught also helps support her community. In her first year open, Haught gave $5 off any service if customers brought in a toy, which resulted in more than 75 kids in Huerfano County getting gifts that year.

[PAGEBREAK]Marc Foley

Wausau, Wisc.

Population: 38,400

Wausau is located smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin.  The land became federal-owned in 1836 through a treaty with the Chippewa Indians. “Wausau” is a native Chippewa word meaning, “able to be seen from far away.” Being a male, Marc Foley is a unique nail technician in the city, but he’s quite accomplished and has done nails for 22 years. “That’s probably been the biggest challenge,” says Foley.  “I’m the only man doing nails here, and the looks and attitudes regarding it make me laugh sometimes. When I first started, friends would joke about my job until I told them how much I make an hour doing something I love to do. Not too many can say the same about their own jobs.”

Foley, a Wausau native, is the owner of Greatful Nails salon and works as a state board examiner for Wisconsin’s Barbering and Cosmetology Board. When asked how he balances a personal/professional relationship with his clients, Foley says, “It’s all for the good and the bad. There are times at social functions where I can’t walk 10 steps before running into a past, present, or future client. And sometimes my wife and I will go do things outside of our community just to avoid people we know. But so many clients have now turned into dear friends, where I have become a part of their families, and they of mine. And I haven’t really had this negatively affect the business. In fact, it’s probably boosted my referrals.”

[PAGEBREAK]Natalie Stone

Paragould, Ark.

Population: 24,505

Paragould has been through a lot in American history from steam-engined railroads to post-WWII industrial booms, and as it continues into the 21st century, Natalie Stone will be keeping its hands pretty. “We are primarily an industrial area,” says Stone. “So most women work in the factory and do not seek nail services. And women who are getting their nails done are going for the super cheap acrylic quick shops. It’s been tough to build up a clientele.”

Stone has lived here 21 years. She received her license in 2003 and quit doing nails three years later to be a stay-athome mom. In order to help win back old customers and gain new ones alike, Stone created a Facebook page (Nails by Natalie Stone) showcasing her skills and works extra hard on customer service to increase her word-of-mouth referrals.  “In our salon roller sets are still a must, so we’ll have older ladies coming in once a week, and I love hearing their stories and giving them excellent manicures. I know they are going to spread the word,” says Stone.

Stone also stresses sanitation to help distinguish her services from the competition. Because a lot of her clients are close friends from high school or family friends it can at times be difficult to ask for full price, but she stays abreast of her competition’s prices and uses her Facebook page to list her menu and prices appropriately.

[PAGEBREAK]Crystal Jones

Lancaster, Ky.

Population: 4,000

Lancaster and nearby Danville, Ky., have been home for Crystal Jones all her life. The quaint city of Lancaster is where she currently works, out of the Royal Treatment/House of Style salon. Jones was fortunate to find a nail mentor at the beauty school she attended, because the school’s curriculum focused on cosmetology. Five years later, Jones is facing the day-in, day-out struggles of finding and keeping a clientele, while at the same time establishing herself apart from local competition.

“There’s a vast amount of cheaper competition in the area, so I really have to put my effort into keeping up on new trends and sanitation of course, so I can educate my clients and show them that I’m different and worth the little extra,” she says.  “And the Internet with sites like Youtube have been my best friend for new nail techniques and trends.” Jones feels a little inhibited since Lancaster is a small town with a conservative economy — new and more expensive trends might not fly. “I’d love to offer Minx, but I don’t think it would go over well,” she says.

But Jones loves the close relationships that form with her clients as a result of their small town residency. “It’s something that comes with working in a small place, but it’s almost like having an extended family.” She adds, “It does sometimes make for interesting conversations when someone comes up to me in the middle of dinner and asks, ‘Do you have that new silver OPI color?’ or ‘You’re never gonna believe what I did to my toe!’”

[PAGEBREAK]Kathy Smith Wagner

Casper, Wyo.

Population: 53,569

Casper, Wyo., was an early oil boomtown around the 1890s and has a steeped pioneering and cowboy culture that continues to this day. Nestled in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains, Casper is home to Kathy Smith Wagner, who works at the salon Franks on First. She moved to Casper eight years ago and initially had a problem finding a salon. “I switched salons four times in as many years until I found my right fit,” she says. After that, Wagner gave discounts to any client who brought in a referral so she could quickly build a full book, and since then it’s been her continuing education that keeps them coming back.

“It gets tough because I have to travel so far to get the education I need and it can get expensive. But I do it because, for me, if you stop learning you stop living,” Wagner says. She attends one major trade show every year, as well as the HRTE networking event in Omaha, Neb., and says she is blessed with a clientele that lets her try out some of the new styles and trends she sees through her travel. And Wagner loves knowing that from time to time, separate clients will run into each other during the day and say, “Hey, we have the same nail lady!” Wagner says, “That makes me smile.” Established in 1843, Philippi is best known for its rolling green hills that held the first land battle of the Civil War and for its historic covered bridge. For nail tech Susan Jones, Philippi is an example of small-town values at their best.  “My greatest experience of working in a small town comes from the love my clients have shown me,” says Jones. “In the last few years, I have had major surgery and lost my mother-in-law and my brother. My clients have taken turns bringing food to my house and calling me to make sure I have everything I need. And for me this comes from the fact that I know all my clients and they know me — beyond just a name. I don’t think if I lived in a large city I would be able to have the relationships I have with my clients.”

Jones has lived in Philippi for 25 years, and she started her nail career only seven years ago. She attended the closest beauty academy in Clarksburg, W. Va., (one of the state’s larger cities) and felt like she received a good education even though the nail enrollment was small with only four in her graduating class.

Jones keeps current on nail trends through industry trade magazines and talks frequently about products with the local beauty suppliers. West Virginia has recently mandated all techs receive at least four hours of annual continuing education, which Jones feels is a great opportunity to keep educating herself and learning more for her clients.

[PAGEBREAK]Susan Jones

Philippi, W. Va.

Population: 2,800

Established in 1843, Philippi is best known for its rolling green hills that held the first land battle of the Civil War and for its historic covered bridge. For nail tech Susan Jones, Philippi is an example of small-town values at their best.  “My greatest experience of working in a small town comes from the love my clients have shown me,” says Jones. “In the last few years, I have had major surgery and lost my mother-inlaw and my brother. My clients have taken turns bringing food to my house and calling me to make sure I have everything I need. And for me this comes from the fact that I know all my clients and they know me — beyond just a name. I don’t think if I lived in a large city I would be able to have the relationships I have with my clients.”

Jones has lived in Philippi for 25 years, and she started her nail career only seven years ago. She attended the closest beauty academy in Clarksburg, W. Va., (one of the state’s larger cities) and felt like she received a good education even though the nail enrollment was small with only four in her graduating class.

Jones keeps current on nail trends through industry trade magazines and talks frequently about products with the local beauty suppliers. West Virginia has recently mandated all techs receive at least four hours of annual continuing education, which Jones feels is a great opportunity to keep educating herself and learning more for her clients.