At the end of the Salon of the Year Awards last year, after all the fanfare, the good wishes, the tears of joy, the post-awards cocktails shared with runners- up and winners, there was the show post-mortem. This was done in the steamy, chlorine-fragrant pool room off the main floor of the Great Lakes Beauty Show the morning after (very early the morning after). I share this detail with you to show you how we push ourselves to continue improving the awards program every year and increasing the prestige for the winners of the award.

Our show sponsor is well-known to the industry for bringing showmanship to industry productions usually reserved for the big hair care companies. So when The Nailco Group president Larry Gaynor sat down with me to go over his ideas for the next year’s show at the afore-described meeting, he cut to the chase: “We need a new name,” he said, “and next year we need an even bigger show.”

Although “Salon of the Year" sums up what we were trying to do, it didn’t say it all. After rejecting hundreds of acronyms and cutesy names, we came up with the Artists & Visionaries Awards (the AVAs). Now it’s time to enter. One of last year’s winners, Rosemary Weiner; gives you some of her tips on how to get into the right frame of mind for entering. I think her suggestions are a useful exercise whether you enter or not.

We’ve also invited some “celebrity” judges to help us judge the final round in each category. (I can’t tell you all of them, but the guest judge in the makeover contest, for example, is the editor in chief of a major consumer design magazine.)

We added new categories. Salon Makeover; Nails-Only, and Full-Service Salon. As nail technicians and nail salons become more specialized, we felt the criteria for judging them ought to as well.

Finally, we changed the date slightly. The awards presentation will be October 27, coinciding with the welcoming party of the Great Lakes Beauty Show.

I wouldn’t dream of putting words in Larry’s mouth, but I know I speak for him when I say that everyone should enter the AVAs and give it a shot. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, your business, and your future.

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