For Tanis Darling, nail education is all about options. “The most rewarding aspect of teaching for me is to show new techs that they have choices as they embark on their journey and that they are at the helm of their own vessel,” says Tanis. Tanis’ own voyage into the beauty industry began 17 years ago. Since that time she’s worn a number of hats – student, nail tech, salon manager, salon owner, and educator – giving her the unique experience of observing the industry from almost every angle.
Three-and-a-half years as the sole owner of Tanis’ A Perfect Ten in Owens Sound, Ontario, taught her all aspects of salon operation. In 1998 when her husband was transferred to another province and she had to sell her business she says she thought her heart would break. “But it was a positive step. I have never looked back,” she says.
In September 2000, she joined the Ottawa Academy & West End Academy in Gloucester, where, as nail technician program instructor, she teaches one of the longest and most in-depth programs in the province. Tanis also recently became a certified AEFM instructor, leading hands-on workshops and seminars in electric file use.
She brings a tremendous depth of experience to her students. “Owning a salon was a complete educational experience and one I like to share with my students – not only do I teach them the skills they need to do nails, but I also teach them retailing, customer services, and business skills,” she says. She keeps up on her own education as well, attending at least two shows a year in the United States and taking all the classes she can.
Within a week of winning her title, she added several new jobs to her already impressive resume. For starters, she signed on as team leader for the nail department of Holtz Spa, the oldest spa in Ottawa. She’s also been retained as a competition director for a series of shows in Canada. “Not only will we be hosting salon style nail competitions, but also spa manicuring competitions for nail techs and estheticians. It’s a first in Canada,” she says. She’ll be adding to her credits as an author as well, writing articles for SPA Canada and BeautyBeat.
It may sound like there’s not much left for Tanis to do but rest on her laurels, but get her talking about her goals for the future and she sounds like a politician on the stump. “In Canada there is a lack of regulation and therefore a lack of standard education. I want to help build a standardized education for nail techs so that we are building a stronger, more informed industry for the future,” she says. Accordingly, she’s starting the Nail Technicians Association of Canada (NTAC). “I’m hoping the association will be able to provide a vast network of aid for members – a place where they can find education or any type of information they may require,” she says.