The typical '90s woman is a hardworking professional by clay and a devoted mother by night. To do both successfully one has to be flexible in both arenas. That's why many women chose a career in the nail industry — it affords career satisfaction and (usually) flexibility for a rewarding home life.
Take, for instance, Kym Lee's first experience with motherhood. "I worked on clients on Saturday and literally went into labor the next morning," says the CEO of Galaxy Nail Products (Corona, Calif.). For some, being accessible to your clients whenever they need you is one of the sacrifices you make if you want to be successful in the nail industry. "Basically, your clients determine your hours, and tradeshows dictate where you'll be," says Lee.
Although working mothers in the nail industry take their careers very seriously, they say their number-one priority is and will always be their families. "The key is to prioritize and know when to delegate care for your children," says Lee, the mother of a 13-, 8-, and 4-year old. "For example, if one of my kids has a routine dentist appointment, I'll have the babysitter take care of it. But if it's something like outpatient surgery, I'll take my child. I am there for my kids for the things that are important to them."
Myriam Clifford, president of Orly International (Chatsworth, Calif.), whose daughter is now in college, agrees. "It's important to be there for their special moments. I always made sure I attended my daughter's important school events, even if I had to fly in for the day, then fly back out. Because I worked so many weekends at trade-shows, I had more flexibility with my work schedule during the week."
For Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive VP of OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), organization and planning are mandatory to juggling both career and a family. "I make sure everything is set and taken care of ahead of time, such as meals," says the mother of a 4 1/2-year-old and a 17-month-old.
I Work Because ...
Working for a living is a creative outlet for countless women. "I love doing nails. It's my life," says Cathy Marrone, a nail technician at Cut 'N Loose flair-cutters in Little Falls, N.J. "I think you need to have your own identity and be an individual." Having a fulfilling career and being able to provide for their children are also why many women work. "I need to work for my own sanity, but I also work so I can give my daughter the best," says Marrone.
Clifford was driven to have a career for herself as well as to provide for her daughter's future. "It was very difficult when she was growing up because not only did I have to coordinate my schedule, but her schedule too," she says. "Being away so much really gave a whole new meaning to our quality time together." When her daughter got older, Clifford took her to tradeshows on the weekends when she could. "I wanted to involve her in my career."
"My mom worked when I was a child, so it was very natural for me to go back to work after having children since I grew up in that environment," says Weiss-Fischmann. "I knew I could raise a family and have a career, too." All that was needed was a slight adjustment in her schedule, so she goes into the office a little later in the morning and works through lunch so she can be home in time for dinner.
A Strong Support Network
Many working mothers rely heavily on family members to help with baby-sitting duties. Those with husbands are usually able to work out a schedule that suits them both; single mothers lean more heavily on their own mothers, friends, and (if they can afford it) professional child care. "There's absolutely no way I could have juggled my career and motherhood if my husband and family weren't there to help take care of my son," says LaCinda Headings, a part-time oncology instructor at Xenon International School of Hair Design in Wichita, Kan., and a former manufacturer's educator.
In the case of divorce, lots of working women have the lion's share when it comes to child rearing. Clifford was a single parent when she started working at Orly in 1983. When she was out of town on business, her daughter stayed at her best friend's house during the week and with her dad on the weekends.
Kristi Brown, a nail technician at Finger's Nail Studios in W. Dundee, III, is a single parent of a 5- and an 8-year-old fortunately for her, her ex-husband was able to adjust his hours to work around her schedule. Her parents also help out tremendously with caring for the kids, says Brown. "The kids are getting to know their grandparents better than I knew mine," she laughs.
"My mom helped out enormously with my first child," says Lee, who returned to work two weeks after giving birth. "In our business, you really have to go back to work if you want to maintain your clients. If you stay away too long, you'll start losing them."
Diana Tingle, a nail technician at Tan Tropics and Nails in Orlando, Fla., depended on her family to help out after the birth of her first two children, who are now 14 and 11. She was only off work for six weeks altogether each time because she couldn't afford to stay home longer. "My mom even moved in with me temporarily to help out," says Tingle.
It’s a Full-Time Job
The family that travels together stays together. Just ask Linda, Jim and little Niki Nordstrom. As a full time-mom, Linda loves being there for her daughter’s every “first.”
After having a baby many successful working women have opted not to go back to work so they can be a full-time mom, which was the case for Linda Nordstrom, wife of Jim Nordstrom, CEO of Creative Nail Design (Vista, Calif.). Prior to adopting her daughter Nordstrom had a flourishing career as an educational sales consultant for Creative. She left the company a month before her daughter was born so she could enjoy every minute of motherhood.
"We waited a long time to have a family, so I wanted to give my child all of my time and attention," says Nordstrom. "I do miss work, however; the nail industry is wonderful and exciting." Nordstrom says she is lucky to keep her feet wet in the industry and stay involved with Creative at least on a social level through her husband.
Even the Nordstroms' 3-year-old daughter Niki is involved in the business. "She flies with us all over the world on business trips," says Nordstrom. In fact, Niki just received her American Airlines gold card because in 1997 alone she racked up 33,000 frequent flier miles. The Nordstroms are hoping to bring another jet-setting child into the family soon.
The Guilt Complex
Understandably, a lot of women feel guilty about walking out the door every morning to go to the office or salon while leaving their little ones behind, especially if working is a choice and not a necessity.
"Even though my daughter adjusted to my schedule, my guilt was intense," says Clifford. "She would look at me and say, 'Mommy, why do you have to leave again?' I called her every night when I was on the road — that was the rule."
Since she works from 12:00-8:00 p.m. four days a week, Brown is able to spend mornings with her younger son. "I do feel guilty, though, because I can't spend as much time with my older son because he's in school all day," she says. When her youngest starts school, Brown is thinking about changing to a day shift, so she's home earlier.
"I love what I do, "says Weiss-Fischmann, "but sometimes I have tremendous guilt when I leave for work. Although work gives me great gratification, my family is my highest priority."
Tingle was able to stay at home for six months after giving birth to her third child, but she started to get antsy. “After being in the industry for so many years and talking to people that I was very close to on a daily basis, I felt very lonely and started getting cabin fever. Although I felt guilty, I was ready to go back to work.” Tingle can now afford to cut way back on her salon hours and spend more time with her three kids, thanks in part to the financial support of her second husband.
Getting the Balance Right
Managing a career and a family is definitely a balancing act. Sometimes that balance means dropping something you never expected to give up. Lynne Gallo, owner of Salon Escada in Marlton, NJ, had lots of concerns about whether she could raise a child and run a salon. “We waited a long time to have a child and I felt that I made enough sacrifices for my business,” she says. Gallo, who has an 18-month-old son, now works three days a week and is very happy with the parenting experience – so much so that if the right person came along offering the right amount of money she says she would sell her salon. “I believe you need to have a full-time commitment to the salon in order to be effective.”
As a nail technician, whether you’re a booth renter or an employee, chances are the salon owner is a mother too. Sometimes that makes a boss sympathetic to family obligations. Brown is an employee at Fingers’ and her boss, Shari Finger, has two kids herself. “Shari is very flexible and understanding if I need to take time off for my kids,” Brown says.
For hears, Headings worked as a nail technician in a salon. “I think the attraction to the nail industry is that you can make your own schedule,” she says. Four months before she gave birth, Xenon offered her a job. “It was the perfect opportunity at the right time,” says Headings. “I tech three days a week, which allows me to be at home in the evenings and on the weekends with my family.
“A lot of people think that they can do everything, but if we try to do it all, we don’t do anything as well as we could,” Headings explains. “Some things are going to fall by the wayside. For me it was cleaning house. You have to tell yourself, ‘What doesn’t get done doesn’t get done.’ I think trying to be superwoman is impossible – if we try to do it we are going to beat ourselves up.”
For many women, the female role model has changed from the stay-at-home memo to the mom with a rewarding career. The secret to doing both successfully is to always keep in mind the needs of your family without losing sight of what’s important to you.