We all know the Ten Commandments, or at least some of them: Do not lie, do not steal, honor your parents, Regardless of your spiritual bent, these are still some pretty good rules to live by. The nail industry is no exception when it comes to following an informal code of ethics. In fact, there are just some things that nail technicians wouldn’t dream of doing. We talked to 10 techs from across the U.S. and Canada and got their views on everything from gossiping in the salon to dealing with manufacturers and distributors.
Coveting Another Nail Tech’s Work
All of the nail techs we spoke to were adamant about acknowledging someone else’s work. “We all have our strengths and weaknesses in our work,” says Della Accardo of The Nail Palace in Clovis, Calif. Accardo says that she once worked with a tech whose flower nail art was extraordinary. Although Accardo was great at airbrushing, her nail art was not up to par. Her fellow nail tech patiently worked with her until Accardo finally mastered the technique. “It took a long time but when I finally mastered flowers, I was able to take credit and acknowledge her help,” she says.
Michelle Palmer of Nail Depot II in Camdenton, Mo., works with two other nail technicians, and they all respect each other’s differences. “We have a saying in the shop: ‘It takes three to make a whole.’ We are different in many ways and I believe that in our salon we appreciate and thrive on each other’s talents as we all differ in many areas,” Palmer says. Among them, she says, there is simply no room for jealousy or envy. “We work together for the same goal: to make a living in an industry we love and want to help grow,” she says.
Some think nail techs are just plain jealous of others and wouldn’t even dream of handing out a compliment. Sue Fabian of Nails by Sue in Clinton Township, Mich., once worked with a nail tech who had a hard time praising others. “I think it was almost a jealousy thing, even though she did some nice nail art herself,” Fabian says.
No Stealing, Borrowing, Or Snooping
Stealing. Yes it’s wrong, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. Typical scenario: You’re busy with a client and suddenly realize you’ve run out of base coat. What’s a tech to do? You can’t run out and buy a new bottle, so is the next best thing to grab your coworker’s brand new bottle and pray she doesn’t remember she had one in the first place? “Stealing equipment and supplies makes for a very unhappy work environment,” says Della Diver of Heart’s Desire in Indianapolis. Constantly borrowing products is also not high on anyone’s list of virtues.
“If you’re in dire need of something, then it’s OK to borrow this time, but don’t do it again tomorrow. Our equipment is like our personal property; it’s like borrowing someone else’s glasses,” says Andrea Randolph of Nail De Andrea’s in Port Jervis, N.Y. Randolph also has strong opinions about nail techs snooping through a coworker’s manicure table. “I don’t like anyone at my desk,” she says. “I have things right where I want them and I know where they are with my eyes closed. I know in a second when someone’s been there.”
Jean Titus, owner of Finger Paints Nail Care Salon in New City, N.J., makes sure that all of the stations at her salon are equipped with the same products. “If one station is vacant for the day, another tech can accommodate a quick repair without forcing her clients to play musical chairs,” she says. Titus requires each of her nail techs to purchase her own nippers, clippers, acrylic brushes, and art brushes. If a tech repeatedly forgets her required supplies, she will not be able to perform certain services and Titus will dock her wages or send her home without pay.
To Work Or Not To Work
At one time or another, most nail techs have dealt with rude clients. Some forgive and forget, others make sure to never service them again. But what happens when a client arrives for her appointment with extensive damage on her nails, yet still insists on having a service done? “There are times when it is not in the best interest of the client to service her, no matter how agitated she may become,” Diver says. “I believe this is the most important commandment because we protect the client from further nail damage.”
Diver says that new clients who have not been educated are the ones who usually come in [PAGEBREAK]with nail damage. By giving them the specifics on why a particular service cannot be performed, a nail tech builds trust with most new clients. There can be times, however, when the client may not appreciate the nail lesson and will move on to another technician.
Although Gina Etters of Nail & Hair Compliments in Tallmadge, Ohio, hasn’t had too many problems, she did come across a major MMA-related dilemma. According to Etters, a woman came into the salon with an MMA product on her nails. Her pinkie nail had broken, taking almost all of the nail plate with it, as well as separating it from the nail bed. “It was bleeding and she wanted me to remove the nail,” Etters says. “I would not do it. I told her I would cut the nail down for her, which I did with a one-cut tip cutter. I wrapped the nail in a bandage, applied an antibiotic ointment, and told her she needed to see a doctor – and that she could possibly lose her nail forever.” Etters says she will not hesitate to tell clients she cannot work on them. After all, she says, she is a professional who has been well trained.
Fabian has also only gone through this situation once – right out of nail school. The owner of the salon Fabian was working at made her do fills on a woman who’d previously had her nails done by a student. The client had fungus on most of her nails, but insisted on having them filled because she had a function to attend that night. “Since I was right out of school, I didn’t know how to handle the situation the way I do now,” Fabian says. “The lengths women will go to in order to get their nails done.”
Dealing With the Big Boys
The golden rule when it comes to dealing with manufacturers and distributors is patience. “It’s very hard to be patient when you are waiting for a product that you needed yesterday,” Diver says. “But I try to remember that they too are human and really do want your business. Sometimes it just feels like they don’t.” Diver says she enjoys visiting local distributors because they tend to be more personal and helpful and they keep her on top of new products before they arrive on the market. Like Diver, Randolph also tries to keep her cool. “I have found out the hard way that the meaner you are, the longer it takes and you get nowhere,” she says. “I am very pleasant and try to be very helpful. Although my blood pressure may be going through the roof, it works.”
When it comes to manufacturers, many nail techs make it a point to research each one carefully. Titus does, and she usually gets free samples in the process. She makes sure a manufacturer has a technical hotline and tries to take as many company-offered classes as possible. When it comes to dealing with distributors, Palmer says she usually orders products online because many distributors don’t want to carry on entire product line, and manufacturers cannot sell their products to nail techs because of contract and territory limitations. Etters say she usually calls the Better Business Bureau to get a clue on a distributor’s reputation. Visiting a distributor also gives her a good opportunity to see how the business is run.
The Lowdown on Gossip
Let’s admit it. We all love to gossip now and then. It’s interesting to get the lowdown on what’s happening in the ever-fascinating world of nails. At times, though, gossip can be damaging and may even cause you to lose some of your clientele. “Gossiping is a serious no-no,” says Dorothy Jackson of Glamour & Glitz Salon in Augusta, Ga. “If clients hear you gossiping they will feel that as soon as they leave, they too will be the topic of discussion.” Tammy Retzlaff of Networks Hair & Body Studio in Edmonton, Alberta, agrees. She says that although plenty of nail techs gossip at one time or another, once they become seasoned professionals they know what’s acceptable and what’s not. “I received honors in the school of hard knocks. I learned from my own mistakes,” Retzlaff says.
Gossiping doesn’t always have to be harmful, however. There are times when a nail tech must simply help her clients catch up on the latest happenings. Lynette Diaz-Madden of Tresbien in Lansdale, Pa., says that when clients ask about other clients, she only tells them how they’re doing. “The other night one of my clients asked how another was doing,” she says. “When I told her she was going to Japan, my client got very excited for her. These are the things we talk about. Nothing derogatory, because let me tell you, the world is smaller than we think.”
Some nail techs take drastic measures when the gossip gets out of hand. Randolph tries to change the subject if a client starts talking about another person or nail tech. She admits that she has let go of a few clients because of their incessant gossiping.
For the most part, though, nail techs act like doctors in that they keep everything a client or fellow nail tech says to them confidential. “I wouldn’t want anybody gossiping about me when I’m not around. I try to be an example,” Accardo says.
It seems there are so many rules to follow when it comes to being a responsible nail tech. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is professionalism. Act like a professional and the rest will fall into place.
The 14 Nail Technician Commandments *
1. You shall not use any MMA product on your nails.
2. You shall respect your clients regardless of race, religion, or tips.
3. You shall not kill your client no matter how many times she says, “It just popped off.”
4. You shall strive at all times to keep your clients educated and up to date.
5. You shall not use nonprofessional products bought from a drug store on clients’ nails.
6. You shall not ever believe that you know all and have no need to learn more.
7. You shall attend at least one educational seminar a year.
8. You shall not covet your fellow nail technician’s work or take credit for something that was not yours to take. Give credit where credit is due.
9. You shall not covet or steal another nail technician’s equipment and supplies, or even consider sitting at or touching another’s table.
10. You shall love your fellow nail technicians.
11. You shall practice proper sanitation and keep your work area clean, organized, and well-stocked at all times.
12. You shall be prompt and prepared for each client.
13. You shall not repeat gossip in the salon.
14. You shall always keep polish off the cuticle, no matter the color.
* List courtesy of Beautytech
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