To see the work of an award-winning nail technician, just take a look at NAILS' cover this month. It's the handiwork of 1998 Nail Technician of the Year Athena Elliott. But that's hardly been her only triumph since winning her title. Here's what's happened in her own words:

 "Let me tell you the wonderful things that have happened since winning NAILS' Nail Technician of the Year Award. First, I was invited to become a committee member on the board of cosmetology for Lee College in Baytown, Texas. This has been so wonderful because I was part of revamping their curriculum on nails, and I am able to teach technique as well as explain the benefits of good salon environment.

I also have the great pleasure of working for a Texas-based men's fashion magazine called Male Ego.

Being Nail Technician of the Year has allowed me to market myself a lot easier. I made an appearance on a local news station explaining what to look for in a salon and nail technician. It was good exposure except I got stage fright real bad. But it all turned out OK.

My most exciting moment was when Toma Industries asked me to endorse its line of nail lacquer (which I love!). They took photos of me to use in their adverstisements and I am negotiating with them now to become a spokesperson.

I just finished my portfolio and am deciding which of two agents I want to represent me for magazine work. Hey, every fashion mag needs a resident nail expert, right? I have drummed up plenty of work for myself and I'm hoping this will bring me up and out from behind the chair. Most of all, I am able to teach and preach about the importance of creating a positive and supportive salon environment. And the techs listen more attentively now, because of my title."

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