Passion is contagious, and at least several students at Michael’s School of Beauty can testify to this fact. I stopped by the school during a visit to my Georgian hometown, and I enjoyed a pedicure and nail art with instructor Kamisha Winfield. Winfield was surrounded by current and soon-to-be students, as well as her husband, who were each able to give me their unique perspective on nails in a small city. Ashley Hurst, a long-time client of Winfield’s, had recently decided to enroll in the school’s nail classes. Hurst says of Winfield, “She’s shown me and told me: ‘We can do this. You make the first step, and I’ll help you the rest of the way.’” Winfield explained that part of her success (both as a former salon owner and as an instructor) lies in cultivating these sorts of close relationships with her clientele and her students.
Latusha Rockuemore, a cosmetology student who enrolled about a month before my visit, says she appreciates the fact that Winfield asked her to make a list of things she wants to learn by the time she graduates. Her list includes “nail art, how to remove chin hair, and the proper way of hair cutting.”
Taking these sorts of cues from her students, Winfield likes to teach fun, interactive lessons to lighten up each chapter. For instance, during a lesson on hair composition, she had students view their hair strands through a microscope, which was projected onto a TV. And, at a previous cosmetology school where she worked, Winfield asked the students to give all of the other instructors manicures on Valentine’s Day. “I like to think out of the box,” she says.
Winfield laments that most area beauty schools focus on hair, simply tacking nails onto the hair curriculum. Winfield — who has a license in nails, hair, instruction, and a massage license in the works — says, “A lot of people out here take nails lightly. It’s just a hobby. But for some people, it’s a way of life.”
Winfield expands her knowledge through trade show classes and, in the case of nail art, by teaching herself. Her youngest sister and her husband, James Winfield II, are her guinea pigs. “My husband’s worn sculptured nails, 3-D art, gels, spiral nails, and pretty much every style I’ve seen or heard about. He’s a landscaper, so he can test the nails’ durability; plus, he’s felt the pain of breaking one.” (He pipes up, “I’ve broken several.”) Winfield says an Augusta trend is clients wanting each hand (or foot) to look different from the other. So, for instance, the left hand might have a pink and red nail art design, then the right hand will have a black and blue design — with the client referring to one as the “Miami” hand and the other as the “New York” hand. On the whole, Winfield says clients like to be very colorful — a request she’s happy to accommodate.