This issue showcases the culmination of years of hard work for a lot of people. Some have toiled without recognition — until now. We have devoted nearly all of this month’s feature pages to individuals, business owners, products, and manufacturers that are outstanding in their field — the best of the best.

We start with our Artists & Visionaries Awards (AVAs). From a towering stack of applications that come in sometimes-twoinch- thick binders, we began the excrutiating task of narrowing down all the entries to the top three in each category. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t a lot of fun judging. It’s not that it’s not gratifying to see what salons are doing or how they’re setting higher standards for their industry, and it’s not because it takes hours and hours (often done at home) to judge them. It’s simply because we can only choose one winner.

This year we added a few smaller categories so that we could recognize those salons that were doing something particularly well but weren’t candidates for the “big” awards. You’ll enjoy reading about Miss Congeniality and Best Salon Atmosphere among these new awards.

The other cream-of-the-crop list is the Top 25 Competitors. This year an old-timer (no offense, Trang!) returns to the top spot after eight years. His ability to remain at the top of his game while also running a school, leading a major manufacturing company (which takes him around the world), and mentoring a competition team is a tribute to his commitment. Read about him and 27 other competitors (there were several ties) who competed — and won — often enough to land a spot on NAILS’ Top 25 List. Finally, the manufacturers are putting their best products in front of you and asking you to choose favorites. Our annual Readers

Readers'Choice Awards survey is open for voting, and may the best products win! These awards mean a great deal to the industry leaders: knowing their products are favored by the experts in the salons is a prize they covet. This year, we’ve made the voting process easier. Just log onto our website ( and click on the purple VOTE button on the homepage. It’s super-easy: just click on your favorite product in each category and submit. Everyone who votes is entered to win one of several terrific prizes (see page 141 to view a list of the prizes as well as to review the full ballot).

And what discussion of the best of the best would be complete without a mention of the editorial team at NAILS Magazine? I thank the outstanding Hannah Lee, who led this magazine to unprecedented 12th, 13th, and 14th Maggie Awards this spring for Best Trade Publication in the beauty field (as well as Best Cover and Best Color Editorial Layout). Along with beauty editor Judy Lessin, she welcomes two new editors to the team: Jayna Rust, who’s been with us since last fall, and Sree Roy, who just joined the team a few weeks ago. It is a team without peer.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about