Since this month’s theme is jump-starting your career, I thought I’d go out in the trenches and see how everyone accomplishes this. Of course, I didn’t have to trench any further than my keyboard. I just Instant Messaged a few of the technicians on my Buddy List and popped into the NailTech chat on Sunday night to ask a few questions.

Before I tell you how the others re-juice themselves, I will share the unique way I jump-started my own book to overflowing in nine months. I admit that I am not the best nail technician in the world. I do pretty nice nails, but by no means am I a super tech. To fill your book quickly and keep it filled, you have to have a niche or find a void in your area.

When I was just starting out, I managed to make an appointment for one of the more popular girls in the local high school. I adored this kid and she adored her nails, so I made a deal with her: “Every warm body you send me, you get a free fill.” As these new high school girls started to make appointments, I made a deal with all of them also: “Every warm body you send me, I’ll give you $5 off your next fill.” Within nine months my book was solid and I hired another tech to pick up the overflow. She was booked to her capacity within three months.

Another thing I did when I first started was reserve a stand at a craft fair and do nail art. Keep in mind, 15 years ago no one had ever seen nail art or decals on nails, so that was my niche. I offered decals, whispies, and dot flowers on one or two nails for free. You need very little as far as supplies (paint, water, towels, brushes, polish), plus your appointment book and a stack of cards. My big expense for the fairs was around $20 or $25 a day and I got much more than that in repeat clients at each fair.

Love Is All You Need

The common thread among the responses to my online queries was “I love my job!” The technicians who absolutely love what they do, do whatever they have to do to stay motivated and fresh.

Last Sunday night’s chat was quiet, so it was a great opportunity to ask some questions. Nailkid2 is a relatively new technician from Illinois and Beechlvr7 is a seasoned tech. Nailkid2 keeps fresh with new ideas by regularly attending trade shows, stopping by to chat frequently, and reading the forums at She also surfs different companies’ websites to see if there is anything new to learn.

Beechlvr7 likes to read trade magazines and also goes online to look at the message boards. “I have gone to a Creative Nail Design (CND) Road Show. That was good, but I haven’t been to a trade show yet,” she wrote. Nailkid2 shared, “The trade shows give me inspiration, particularly the hands-on opportunities at classes and the booths.”

I put forth the same question to several techs on my Buddy List: Hope O’Conner (NailDivaHope), Pati Schembari (nailgal2), Jessica Hoel (NailsByJessWA), and Alice Wallice (LunadeLuna3).

Hope has been excited since day one — how does she stay that way? She is a regular participant in both the NailTech Mailing list and the message boards at “It gets discouraging when things slow down,” says Hope."Appointments were slow here at a time when we should have been in full swing with the tourist season. The hurricanes hit and gas prices were out of control. I had to tell myself that it was do or die, so I started giving out gift certificates to anyone who would take them for free services. It sparked things up a bit because it didn’t matter to me if they were paying or not. I have the passion and only want to do what I love whether I get paid or not.”

Pati goes to classes or seminars, networks with other nail techs, tries new products or new procedures, or tests out a new pedicure recipe. In the past, she has also revamped her entire menu not only to give herself a boost, but also to get her clients excited again.

“I would have to say education — attending a class always makes me want to jump in and do something new,” said Jessica in our chat. Last year she stopped doing nails for about five months because she was burnt out and tired. “Then I was offered a management position. Having a say in the services we do and what products we carry is a big deal to me,” says Jessica. “That got me excited again. It actually makes me wonder if I should be owning or at least renting.”

Alice gets a fresh kick in the excitement department by ordering new polish colors. “Talking to the folks on the mailing list and in the chat room has always been my first place to turn when I get discouraged. Getting sound advice and opinions through the eyes of newbies and those I look up to in the industry has always given me a lot of food for thought,” she says.

Alice says chatting or e-mailing with her peers makes her aware of other options and gives her a better perspective on whether she is overreacting to a particular situation.

Debbie Doerrlamm, NAILS’ Internet correspondent, helps you navigate the sometimes complicated online world with useful tips and interesting site suggestions. For information on how to network online with other beauty professionals, e-mail You can read Debbie’s past articles at:

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