Elaine Watson has successfully made the transition from nail technician to educator to being an executive at one of the leading nail manufacturing companies. Fourteen years ago, just one year after becoming a nail tech, Elaine began educating for Star Nail International from Maine. That all changed three years ago when she relocated to California to work full time at the corporate office. She’s currently the vice president of marketing and global education director for Star.

With visits to more than 20 different countries, Elaine has taught techniques and product knowledge to thousands of professionals globally. As the first licensed nail tech to be employed by Star, her many duties include research and development of new products, quality control and improvement of existing products and chemicals, traveling overseas to assist in business development, creation of educational DVDs, photo shoots for ads, and managing the Cina Nail Creations nail art line.

“When I first started in the office, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be happy because I’m such a social creature,” Elaine says, “I do miss being in the salon and seeing clients every day, but I work for a family-run business and we aren’t so ‘corporate.’ We all work very hard while enjoying each other’s company. My favorite part of what I do now is research and development. There is nothing like coming up with an idea and seeing it in a foreign country.”

For July’s cover, we used fabric with resin and UV-cured sealer to create the beautiful patterned toes. You can use just about anything — have your client bring in their old favorite piece of clothing.

Here’s how you can do these nails:

1. Cut the material to the shape of each of the 10 toenails.

2. Prep the toenails. Clean the nail plate and apply a primer. After primer dries to a chalky finish, put a strip of brush-on glue down the center of the nail. Adhere the fabric on the center of the toenail, so the fabric lies flat with no lumps or bubbles.

3. After the fabric is in place, use a coat of brush-on resin to seal the fabric on the nail. Apply a coat of cool mint activator to give the nail plate a sticky finish. 

4. Use a 180-grit file to shape the toenails. (You can also use a soft drill bit made for natural nails to clean around the shape of the nails.) Follow this with a buffing block to smooth out any imperfections on the surface of the nail.

5. Use a “can of air” (industry secret) to remove dust and filings off the nail plate. One foot at a time, brush Cina Nail Art Sealer (wipe-less formula) on all toenails. Cure for 2-3 minutes.

6. Apply a second coat of nail art UV sealer, and cure for 2-3 more minutes.

7. Finish with cuticle oil and body butter to hydrate.   

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