Amy Cooper got into the beauty business because her mom was a cosme­tologist. In fact, she started cutting hair for family and friends when she was a kid. By the tender age of 19, Cooper had reached burnout. By her own admission, she was a hairstylist with a bad attitude. She quit her job and got as far away from hair as possible: she took up dry-walling. "It's good exer­cise, I like physical labor, and I enjoy remodeling," says Cooper.

Since she needed a job while she was learning to dry-wall, Cooper applied for a receptionist job in a salon. When the owner found out she was also a cosmetolo­gist, he recruited her to do nails. "Back then, manicurists were looked down upon so I wasn't quite sure about pursuing nails," remembers Cooper. But she gave it a shot. "I kept learning and growing and that is how 1 stayed motivated and interested," says the single parent of a 4-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy. Eventually, she opened her own salon, Masterworks, in West Allis, Wis.

Born with a competitive nature, Cooper was a natural for nail competitions. She first competed in nail art seven years ago, and even though she was told she should have practiced two months ahead of time instead of only two weeks, she still walked away a third-place winner.

Cooper travels all over the U.S. to compete. She recalls an embarrassing story: "While returning home on a flight from a show in Florida, I accidentally placed my bag, which contained my nail supplies, including monomer, on its side in the over­head compartment. About 20 minutes into the flight, one of the co-pilots comes out and looks around.  He returns to the cockpit, then comes back out and starts sniffing the air. Then the plane starts descending and we’re told that there are fumes coming from an undetected source and we have to emergency land in Atlanta. So I open up the overhead to get my bag and discover the fumes were coming from my bag. Babies started crying and people became panicked. As we disembarked, all eyes were glaring at me. After the plane was aired out we re-boarded.”

Amy Cooper, who placed third in Sculptured Nails at the Long Beach International Beauty Expo, says competing helps her keep her service time down and improves her attention to detail when doing salon nails. She also teaches advanced training to local technicians.

Sculpting perfect tiny moons on each toenail for the cover proves that no detail is too small for Cooper.

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