Nail technician Alisha Sale’s goal for 1999 was just to make it onto the NAILS Top 25 Competitors list. “When I realized what I’d done, I got all teary-eyed,” says the 27-year-old competitor who achieved the #1 ranking in her first year of competing seriously. Sale, who has been a tech for six years, first became interested in doing nails when, as a college student, she got her own nails done. Two years ago she entered her first competition having no idea what she was letting herself in for. “When I registered I though, I’m a pro,’ so I entered the pro division rather than beginners. My nails were solid-pink, bumpy, and thick. I came in last. But I watched the other competitors and went back to the salon and practiced on my customers,” she says. A year latter, she attempted her second competition and earned firsts in the beginners division in sculptured nails and tip and overlay. “I really shocked myself,” she recalls.
After that competition, she asked some of the seasoned competitors for help and found no one wanted to share their secrets. No one but Trang Nguyen, that is. “He said, ‘Come and watch me’ and he let me and everyone else stand over his shoulder while he worked. He shared every little detail. I though, “This is the most incredible person.’ I called him later for advice and he invited me to come for a weekend,” she says. Not long after that, sale came to work at his salon and school in Longwood, Fla., and as an educator for his Odyssey product line. Her goal now is to try to maintain her ranking and to share with others as Nguyen shared with her. “I’d like to make the whole competition atmosphere healthier and more giving,” she says.