I put the following question to a group of female salon executives recently: “Do you ever feel that what we do as members of the beauty industry is just not that important in the scheme of things? How do you reconcile the fact that what we do is occasionally shallow or doesn’t serve a humanly vital function?”

Like the George Bailey character in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I sometimes wonder how bad off the world would be without the professional nail industry, my job, your job — Is it so bad that millions of women would go with unpolished nails?

Imagine, then, as George did when he “jumped” off the bridge in the perennial favorite Christmas movie. If you woke up in a world without the professional nail industry…

  • 37,000 single moms supporting their families would have no job, and another 300,000 nail techs, men and women, would not contribute to their household income.
  • The owners and employees of 350 professional nail manufacturers and thousands of distributors would be unemployed, and thousands of families would be without their primary support.
  • Hundreds of nail school operators would have empty student workstations.
  • Salon inspectors, state board members, industry lobbyists, and assorted experts would be out of a job.
  • The publishers of trade journals, school textbooks, business books, and study guides would have no pages to fill.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars in state licensing fees would not be added to state budget coffers.
  • The rents and mortgages paid by salon owners across the country would not bolster local economies.
  • The halls of countless trade shows would be empty without nail technicians to buy, learn, and network.
  • Cyberspace would be quieter without the chatter of thousands of nail techs worldwide who commune online to help each other and learn more about their chosen field.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars would not be donated to important charitable causes if the nail industry did not conduct its cut-a-thons, its walks for cancer research, and its annual City of Hope and Beauty Ball fund-raisers.
  • Millions of dollars would not be added to the global economy as American companies would not export their goods, nor import components to make their goods sold here.
  • And millions of women who look to their weekly nail care appointment as a source of esteem and solace wouldn’t have such an easy fix in their harried lives.

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