Where would we be without them? Our steadfast beacons, unwavering leaders, oracles of nail knowledge - our educators. They’re a humble bunch, not wanting to hog the spotlight. Letting their work stand on its own. During her career, a nail educator can influence thousands of nail professionals. When you take a class from a dynamic teacher, she (or he) can transform not only the way you work, but the way you think. Here we get to know some of our industry’s teachers a little better and get a glimpse of what makes them tick - and teach.
ELLEN TORCHIA North Bend, Wash.
Do you work in a salon? Yes
Educator since: 1999
Why did you become an educator? Coming from a health care provider background, I felt education in the nail industry was lacking and wanted to get involved to change that.
Educate for: I am a consultant for Badger Airbrush Company and an AEFM Safety Specialist.
Subjects: Airbrushing, electric file and sanitation
What do you find most satisfying about educating? Like to see the looks on the students’ faces when they get it! All of a sudden, it’s like a new found confidence they didn’t have before.
What keeps you motivated to teach? I stay motivated by wanting to help techs become better. When I hear new information that is vital, I pass it along. A well-educated tech is a successful tech.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: It is our responsibility as licensed professionals to seek out and keep up-to-date on new information. New information becomes available through independent studies all the time and was once the way did things, although it is no longer the case. Stay current, read your journals, attend shows and seminars.
GREG SALO Anaheim Calif.
Do you work in a salon? Only to assist my educators.
How long have you been an educator? 7 years
Why did you become an educator? I wanted to teach nail technicians to use our products properly.
Educate for: My company, Young Nails.
Subjects: I specialize in acrylic, gel, colored acrylic, and electric filing.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? Watching the mother of skill. “You need to practice to be perfect.
How would you describe your teaching style? I am patient and love to motivate.
What keeps you motivated to teach? I am motivated because of the energy I get in return. When I see the results my students are achieving, it pushes me to work harder.
Where do you go to learn something new? I learn new things from my educators constantly. They are all super salon techs. They should all wear capes because of their super salon power success.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: make sure your teacher is as motivated as yourself. The last you want is to be bored to death in the classroom. You won’t retain anything.
VICKI PETERS, Las Vegas
Do you work in a salon? I have not been in a salon full time since November 1989.
Educator since: 1990
Why did you become an educator? I saw the need and recognize that I had a platform when I worked for NAILS as the show manager.
Educate for: Until I took a position with Kupa in 2004 I had always been a non-product-related educator focusing on techniques. It’s still the same - with product information added.
Subjects: I teach many subjects, including mastering the basics, competition, business-building skills, electric filing, product application, filing and shaping, pedicures, and marketing skills.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? Hearing from my students that they have implemented what I taught them into their business and are successful.
What is your motto when it comes to educating? “Straight-shooting truth.”
How would you describe your teaching style? No nonsense and honest.
What keeps you motivated to teach? It’s in my blood and no one loves what they do more than me. I was put on this earth to do exactly what I do. I would not change one thing about my career. Not one.
Where do you go to learn something new? I learn a lot from being involved with competitors. They are the trend-setters. I also go outside the industry to learn new business skills that I bring back to the classroom. I read a lot of motivational and business skills books.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: Look outside the box for information, network upward with industry icons, and take a Geno Stampora class.
TOM HOLCOMB Riverside, Calif.
Do you work in a salon? No
Educator since: 1990
Why did you become an educator? To give was given and to be able to make other techs champions.
Educate for: I educate for [my company] Entity Beauty Inc., but before that I was in Japan for almost 10 years teaching the nailists there.
Subjects: You name it, I will help in any way possible. I love to work with the art of sculpting. I like getting detailed and focus on how to sculpt and the overall look of the nail.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? When techs say “thank you” after you have watched them work so hard. You know then that you did your job!
What is your motto when it comes to educating? “You get out of life and your job what you put into it. It’s hard work, dedication, and motivation"
Where do you go to learn something new? Japan. It is the most incredible place I have had the honor to teach. I can show nailists one little thing they can make it 10 times better in no time.
JOEY BROWN, North Hollywood, Calif.
Do you work in the salon? Not anymore.
How long have you been an educator? I started with OPI in 1986.
Who do you educate for? OPI
What subjects do you teach or focus on? I teach product introductions, business development, retailing, and motivation and inspirational classes.
How would you describe your teaching style? I love using humor and motivation when it comes to teaching. I am most excited at classes or workshop where there is a lot of interaction between nail technicians. We all learn from each other, and if I can have nail techs walk away from a seminar knowing that they have learned valuable information, or by trying a system that will make their career easier, and of course that ultimately will help them attain their goals - I feel I’ve done my job!
RISE CARTER, NSI, West Conshohoken, Pa.
Do you work in a salon? I have a busy schedule with NSI, but to keep my skills elevated and to test new and upcoming products, I have a full day of clients one day a week.
Educator since: Almost nine years
Why did you become an educator? I had been doing nails and had my own salon for 14 years I had never attended a class or trade show during that time. I went to my first class and thought the educators was wrong and a little nuts. I had never heard of some of the things she was talking about. So I went to my next class, and thought the same thing. After all, I had a full book and had great clients and made good money. After attending my third class, I realized that I had not updated my knowledge and information. My product knowledge was nonexistent, and my skills were antiquated. But, I did come to the some. I went through the process and starting educating.
Educate for: NSI
Subjects: The position I have now puts me in a position of teaching other educators on advance nail skills, product knowledge, nail anatomy, chemistry, presentation skills, troubleshooting, and so many other topics.
How would you describe your teaching style? I have a passion for helping others. My teaching style is fun, interactive, warm, and supportive with a sense of humor, I think.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? There is a definite high that comes from seeing someone have an “aha” moment. When you see them get it, they get excited and regain their passion for this always-changing and amazing industry.
What keeps you motivated to teach? Setting goals and going after them, working as a team with my colleagues, and seeing projects come to fruition. I am rejuvenated by the amazing people around me, personally and professionally. I am also motivated by the success of other people, because I am so proud when the succeed.
Where do you do you go to learn something new? I learn every day from everyone I come into contact with. When you learn to listen, people have individual skills and ideas, and everyone has so much to offer.
What is your motto when it comes to educating? “When you teach, you learn.”
Advice for techs seeking continued education: Do it! It will spark your career and energize your spirit and passion. Attend trade shows and two to three classes a year. Your business will benefit from it!
TRANG NGUYEN Hollywood, Fla.
Do you work in a salon? I have been working in a salon from more than 15 years.
How long have you been an educator? Six years
Why did you become an educator? I wanted to help others succeed in the nail business.
Educate for: My company, Odyssey Nail Systems.
What subjects do you teach or focus on? Product knowledge, basic French techniques, and new and advance color acrylic. Most importantly, I especially love to teach competition techniques.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? To see other nail techs from all over the world improving their skills and knowledge.
How would you describe your teaching style? I start by making sure my students understand the products. Then I lead students into technical application. Finally, I give demonstration and explain each and every step of the technique. After that I focus on troubleshooting. What keeps you motivated to teach? Competition and seeing improvement in others.
Advice for tech seeking continuing education: There should never be an end to education. Continuing in education makes you succeed in your everyday job.
JENNIFER HOLT Kansas City, Mo.
Do you work in a salon? Yes
How long have you been an educator? Six years
Why did you become an educator? I saw it as an opportunity to advance myself as well as an opportunity to convey the knowledge I have receive to other technicians.
Educate for: American International Industries (All). They own EZ Flow, ibd, Clean + Easy and GiGi.
Subject: I teach a wide variety of things from acrylic nails, gel nails, silk and fiberglass nails, and waxing. I also teach how to sell yourself and let the consumer be knowledgeable about the products you are using on them. I also teach all levels of education for EZ Flow all around the world. I teach master classes to help further other technicians in the field as well as school classes to our future technicians.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? The feeling I get when a technicians learns something new and applies it to her job I, in return, always learn something from my classes as well.
How would you describe your teaching style? I am there as my student’s backbone and to help them along the way. I tell them they are the ones who are making the difference in our industry. Without them where would be as a whole? They are the ones who are buying the products and use the products on their clients. In my classes I always give my phone number out because I want them to call me anytime they have a question or just want to let me know how they are doing with what they have learned.
DOUG SMITH, Vista, Calif.
Do you work in a salon? No
Educator since: 1990
Why did you become an educator? I’ve always been inspired by passionate people. When I saw the passion at Creative Nail Design, I had to be part of the team. I haven’t looked back since.
Educate for: Creative Nail Design. I started out as an Education Ambassador (independent contractor) and now am honored to be the director of education.
Subjects: When I have the opportunity to facilitate a learning experience for nail professionals it’s usually as a guest speaker at a trade show, or hosting the Team Creative Road Show. My primary focus now is to oversee the programs developed by Creative Nail Design, that task includes everything from training trainers, to developing the classes available to nail professionals. That's how you know they’ve connected with your message. It’s a liberating experience to witness someone realizing their own greatness. As a teacher/facilitator, it took a long time to realize that it wasn’t about how much I knew as a professionals - it was about each nail professional’s career and her own ability.
How would you describe your teaching style? Striving to stay focused on the learner, the learner, and the learner. It’s each nail professional’s own knowledge and ability that matters in a class. The facilitator’s role is to identify the need of each learner and help her realize her own ability. The rest is simply practice.
What keeps you motivated to teach? Nail professionals. There’s a resurgence of a grassroots need from learners. The industry wants to know what will work for them in their own salon and how to implements services that consumer really want. We’re way beyond “fake nails.” it’s the constant renewal of trends combined with the consumer’s desire for beautiful hands and feet that keeps our entire industry moving forward.
Where do you go to learn something new? Again, nail professionals. It’s amazing how much you can learn by watching other people do nails. I’ve learned more tricks on smile line placement and product control by simply observing the professionals around me. It also helps to read industry publications. I’ve been a NAILS reader since the 80.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: When seeking education in your area I would definitely recommend asking your distributor for a calendar. If they don’t have anything scheduled, get a group of nail professionals together and prove to your sales rep the need for a class. If that doesn’t work, get online and search out you favorite product manufacturer’s website. You can usually learn of a great class within a reasonable distance from your salon with a little Internet research. Finally, call any technical hotlines listed on the package of your favorite products.
ANNA LAJOURDIE, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Do you work in a salon? Yes, I have a home-based studio.
How long have you been an educator? Two years
Why did you become an educator? It came naturally. I was asked for help and tutoring at first and it evolved into teaching. I really enjoy sharing with others and give back because I have receive (and still receive) help from others.
Educate for: I’m an independent educator but i teach with Akzentz gels.
Subjects: Sculpting pink-and-white gels on forms and rebalances.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? It’s so rewarding to know that i helped someone become more confident and to see them succeed.
How do you describe your teaching style? My classes are small (a maximum of six people and last two days. I get to spend almost two hours with each tech (others are watching and taking notes.) this way I have the opportunity to really concentrate and help each person with whatever they need to focus on - like how to angle the brush or the file properly, how much pressure to apply on the brush, how to apply the form, and so on.
What keeps you motivated to teach? I love my job!
Where do you go to learn something new? I’m so lucky to know (some personally, some over the Internet) many legendary, amazing nail techs like Gigi Rouse, Vicki Peters, Marti Preuss, and Kathi Rochemont who helped me along the way, critiqued my work, and gave me ideas. I will always remember their generosity, I also learn on my own, developing different ways of doing things in my salon work.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: The internet is a great place for networking. Most of my students have found me because of the internet....and I found most of my teachers on the Internet too.
LYSA COMFORT, Encino, Calif.
Do you work in a salon? I work one day a week in a salon. It is important to stay hands-on if you're a teacher.
How long have you been an educator? 10 years
Why did you become an educator? After inventing an electric file bit I need to show techs how to use it. From there I started teaching electric filing. I started education for my own company, Comfort Concepts. When I merged my company with EZ Flow I began teaching for them. After AII bought EZ Flow I became the director of education for INM.
Educate for: I am an independent educator and I teach all over the world.
Subjects: I teach just about everything. I am most requested to each competition training, electric filing, and acrylic sculpting and design.
What do you find most satisfying about educating? The most satisfying part of teaching is the opportunity to help others. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing students master what you have taught them.
What is your motto when it comes to education? “Practice, practice, practice.” The best nail techs in the world practice all the time (or they would not be the best).
How would you describe your teaching style? I would like to think that when I teach I try to embrace all of my students as if they were the only person taking my class. Everyone should get 110% of me while they are taking their time to learn from me.
What keeps you motivated to teach? The joy I get in seeing someone learn what I have taught them. When i see or hear from a student later how much I helped them.
Where do you go to learn something new? When I was with EZ Flow I went to my teachers and mentors, Tom Holcomb and Danny Haile. Now, try and get as much as I can from Mi Won Kim and her incredible staff in Korea.
Advice for techs seeking continuing education: My advice is that you ask others who have taken a class with the teacher you wish to learn from. Everyone has a different teaching style so if you are not happy with a class you have taken, do not let if discourage you. Try someone different. Keep an open mind.
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