Every year when we sit down to judge the AVAs, the NAILS team is shocked by how much work goes into each submission. We require a lot of material, but the love and care that foes into every individual entry seems to surprise us year after year. For this year’s awards, we saw a fresh batch of faces submit themselves to our contest. But except for one first-timer, it was our veterans who shined the brightest.

MaeLing Parrish of Columbus, Ohio, was named Nail Technician of the Year; and Maisie Dunbar’s M&M Nails and Wellness in Silver Spring, Md., was named Salon of the Year. Both Parrish and Dunbar have been runners-up in previous years, but neither has ever reached this ultimate pinnacle of achievement.

The winners of both categories will receive $500, and the runners-up will receive $250 each. As part of her prize package, Parrish will also be flown to Los Angeles to do a cover for NAILS. Thank you to our judges, who included last year’s winners Nail Technician of the Year 2006 Mary Seitzinger (who judged this year’s Salon of the Year finalists) and Salon of the Year 2006 VIP Salon &Spa’s Renee Borowy (who judged this year’s Nail Technician of the Year).

We’d like to congratulate all of our finalists and winners, as well as everyone who took the time and effort to send in their entries. Your work is amazing and we are truly awed by this great industry of ours.

On the following pages, see just what it takes to become one of our industry’s finest.

WINNER:  MaeLing Parish

Salon: Nail Sensation, Columbus, Ohio

Years doing nails: 17

Current bio: Global educator for All/EZ Flow

Future goals: “I’m working on getting an agent because I’d love to do nails on runway models, on movie sets, and for consumer magazines.”

Who has had the most influence on your career?

“Artistically, Tom Holcomb has been the biggest inspiration for me. He is a nail industry icon who has a crazy outside-the-box way of thinking. He motivates me to think that anything is possible. I now have the ability to look at something and imagine how I can artistically translate it to my work.

“In terms of business, Gari-Dawn Tingler, the director of education for All is the master. With all the balls she has to juggle, it amazes me that she still has time to offer encouragement, guidance, and praise. Her drive and commitment to the industry motivates me to put my ‘best hand forward’ whether it is servicing my clients, mentoring a vocational school student, or molding the minds of entry-level educators.

“On a personal level, it’s my mom. She loved to dance and lived her dream by opening her own ballet academy. Bearing witness to the relationships she built with her students and her ability to get the best out of them has been a pillar of inspiration in all areas of my work. She treated her students and business relationships with care. She never took them for granted and treated her clients with respect and gratitude.”

What makes her a winner:

  • When it comes to her nail art and technical skills, our judges had this to say: “Fabulous, stunning, amazing, and breathtaking.”
  • Her industry involvement is impressive. Besides being a manufacturer’s educator for seven years, she also has trained nail technicians and cosmetologists in the salon. In addition, she is a seasoned nail competitor and has won numerous awards.
  • Her dedication to become Nail Technician of the Year has been unwavering. Over the years, she has applied again and again in hopes of finally being awarded the coveted title.

What does being a winner mean to you? “Most importantly, it means a lot to my clients because they are what matter most to me. It makes them proud and gives them bragging rights. For me, winning this award is an acknowledgment of all my hard work. Being on the cover of NAILS Magazine is like being a rock star for nail techs. I remember when I first started in the industry and I saw the Nail Technician of the Year on the cover. I thought, ‘Wow, I could never achieve that status.’ To finally win puts me in the same league as my mentors.”


  1. Parrish transformed her client’s nails with this flawless set of pink-and-whites
  2. For these tantalizing transparent nails, Parrish used a color fade acrylic technique.
  3. Pink perfection describes these glittery nails sculpted by Parrish.
  4. Beauty show attendees in Australia were able to watch Parrish construct this glitter acrylic with 3-D flower design.
  5. During a demo day presentation at a beauty supply distributor, Parrish treated shoppers to spa manicures and acrylic nails.
  6. Parrish sculpted these pretty French twist acrylic nails with an inlaid design at a competition in Japan.

7-8.     Parrish was picked to create the colorful polka dot nails, which appeared on NAILS’ 2006 Career Handbook.

FIRST RUNNER-UP:  Heather Goodwin

Salon: Rare Accents, Palm Harbor, Fla

Years doing nails: 12

Current bio: Certified success coach for inspiring Champions

Future goals: “I’m excited about opening my own salon in August called A Totally Unique Nail Boutique. It’s located in a converted old house in a historic district of Palm Harbor.”

What does being a finalist mean to you?

“This is the first time I’ve entered so I’m thrilled. I’ve really put a lot of effort into developing my business knowledge and skills. In addition, I have written three feature articles for NAILS Magazine. Being selected as a finalist means that people appreciate the hard work I’ve put into my career.”

Who or what has had the most influence on your career?

“Well, a few years ago I had the seven-year itch. You know when you think this is all you can achieve in this business. I had a full book and was busy working 10-hour days, five days a week. I loved my job, but had lost my joy. I took the advice of a friend and hired a coach. Her name is Debra. She taught me amazing principles, systems, and structures to make my goal of working less and making more money a reality. Along the way, my core values and boundaries became crystal clear – my family comes first. I am at my happiest when my family life and business work in harmony.”

What makes her a standout nail tech:

  • Giving back to the industry as a success coach. With her savvy business skills, Goodwin has coached hundreds of beauty industry professionals on how to identify their needs and challenges. She has empowered them to make their lives more balanced and their business more profitable.
  • Providing clients with useful in-salon promotional materials. These include client newsletters, which talk about new products and growing trends, and the Client N.E.A.D.S. Analysis form, which addresses problem-solving and the needs of each client.


  1. Here’s Goodwin (far right) doing what she loves best – in-salon coaching.
  2. The hands have it. Flawless French from Goodwin.
  3. Goodwin and her coworkers attended a business education seminar sponsored by Bryan Durocher.


Salon: Salon Vincenzo, Centerville, Ohio

Years doing nails: 15

Current bio: Technical Advisor for OPI Products

Future goals: “My focus is to develop the ultimate product, which makes a nail technician’s life easier and creates the perfect set of nails for clients. I’d also love to be interviewed by Oprah and Leno to let the public know exactly what we do.”

What does being a finalist mean to you?

“To be included in the final round is the epitome of the nail industry. This award holds the most weight. It stands for everything you’ve done and who you are in your career.”

Who or what has had the most influence on your career?

“The evolution of our industry is what influences me the most. Each year, manufacturers continue to develop new products. Just when I think I can’t work any faster or have greater craftsmanship in my work, a manufacturer comes out with a new product that allows me to do just that. This is a very exciting time for me because I’m in the position to design and develop the very products I am talking about.”

What makes him a standout nail tech:

  • His overall experience in the industry. Hauk’s  credentials include salon owner, nail technician and artist, salon consultant, educator, nail competitor, competition judge, and mentor.
  • His community and charity involvement from donating manicures to a local retirement community on a bi-monthly basis and donating nail services to non-profit organizations, to donating time teaching at local beauty schools and working with the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology in administering CEU classes, Hauk truly is dedicated to helping others.


  1. At OPI’s International Symposium 2006, Hauk takes center stage.

2-4.        Since 1997, Hauk has received more than 175 various industry awards in 16 categories in 41 cities within eight countries. Here is some of his work.

  1. Hauk donates hit time at local beauty schools giving product demonstrations and teaching students on their proper use.

FIRST RUNNER-UP:  Roula’s Nail Spa, Houston

Owner: Roula Nassar

Years of ownership: 3

Number of nail techs/employees: 10/18

Specialties: Signature hand and foot treatments, which include 27-themed spa manicures and pedicures

Future goals: “I’ve already started working on franchising my business. I’m also establishing an education arm of Roula’s Nail Spa, and am in the process of writing a book that focuses on the history of the industry. I’d like to open a school to train my franchises as well as other nail techs. My ultimate dream is to start a non-profit organization funded by Roula’s Nail Spa, which focuses on combating global poverty.”

What does being a finalist mean to you?

“It’s an honor, since being named Salon of the Year is one of the most highly coveted awards in the industry. It’s great for creating staff loyalty because people want to work for the best. It legitimizes my concept and devotion to cleanliness and sanitation.”

What is the salon’s mission?

“Roula’s Nail Spa aims to provide clients with an exceptional spa experience by offering pampering and innovative treatment and value-added services in a sanitary environment. The salon’s goal is to provide a nurturing and fair environment for its team members and impact its community positively.”

What makes the salon stand out:

  • Outstanding sanitary practices. With its focus on cleanliness, the salon has implemented an $18,000 medical-grade sterilization center developed exclusively in the past for dental offices. The salon’s cleanliness protocols are consistent with those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for hospitals.
  • Its innovative array of treatments. With mouth-watering names such as Warm Milk & Honey, Strawberries & Cream, and Mediterranean Fig & Vanilla, the salon’s signature hand and foot care treatments offer clients a sweet escape.


  1. The classy exterior of Roula’s Nail Spa extends to the salon’s interior design of attractive, warm earth tones.

2-3.     Signature hand and foot care treatments offer clients a relaxing respite.

  1. Roula’s in-salon promotions invite clients to take advantage of special deals.

SECOND RUNNER-UP: The Nail Lounge, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Co-Owner: Cassie Piasecki

Years of ownership: 2

Number of nail techs/employees: 16/24

Specialties: Natural nail care, pedicures, acrylic removal, and neck and shoulder massage

Future goals: “Now that I’ve been open nearly two years and have my bearings and have been able to streamline things, I think opening another salon is very feasible. I’m also working on developing a natural nail care system.”

What does being a finalist mean to you?

“As a salon owner, I work really hard and because I’m not a nail technician, my goal is to make my nail techs happy, because if they’re happy, my clients are. With all the juggling and the responsibilities, it’s a validation that I’m working to better the industry. Yes, the monetary awards are great, but money can’t buy an award like this.”

What is the salon’s mission?

“It is our goal to provide each of our clients with fabulously indulgent nail care while maintaining the highest level of cleanliness and sterilization. We set ourselves apart from other nail salons by ensuring that every single tool is either discarded or sterilized in an autoclave between services. Our thoroughly trained and experienced professionals are dedicated to creating a good, clean and fun nail salon experience.”

What makes the salon stand out:

  • Its attention-grabbing, colorful décor. The Nail Lounge’s crisp, white pedicure chars and striking blue walls and matching bar stools are perfectly accented with brightly colored orange and pink pillows. The bold pink-, green-, and orange-colored nail supplies complement the salon’s design.
  • Its commitment to continuing education. Whether it’s paying for her top nail techs to attend the Las Vegas Hair and Nail Conference, purchasing tickets to a local tradeshow for any nail tech who promises to take a minimum of two classes, or bringing industry professionals into her salon for in-depth classes, Piasecki is focused on improving the skills and knowledge of her staff.


1-2.     Passers-by can’t help but notice The Nail Lounge with its hip, contemporary colors and trendy interior design.

  1. The entire staff at The Nail Lounge is all smiles.
  2. The Nail Lounge’s fun promotional campaign is not only geared to attract more business, but to recruit new employees, too.


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