Having six years under her belt as a nail technician, Carla Collier was pretty confident of her skills and ready to put them to the test at her first nail competition. It turned out to be a very humbling experience, remembers Collier, who finished in 17th place. After seeing the nails done by the top competitors, Collier was on a mission to place in the top three. To help accomplish that goal, she took manufacturers’ classes to soak up all the information she could. The classes paid off ---- Collier placed second in her next competition. Today, she is winning along with the best of them. She earned sixth place in NAILS’ Top 25 Competitors Ranking for 1995, and is currently in 19th place for 1996.
It’s hard to believe that this 12-year nail technician and seasoned competitor went to nail school thinking that artificial nails were just glued on. “When they handed me the brush, I thought, ‘What’s this for?’” recalls Collier, who says her first full set in school took eight hours to complete.
A friend who wanted someone to keep her company urged Collier, who now works at Making Waves in Tehachapi, Calif., to go to nail school with her. “I was working a 9-to-5 minimum-wage computer job, so I thought I’d go for it,” says Collier. “After I started doing nails, I was surprised at my artistic ability because the only thing I could draw was stick people.”
Since her nail schooling left a lot to be desired --- basically, they taught her how to pass the state board and that was it, says Collier--- she was hungry to learn more and to educate other nail technicians who weren’t properly trained. That hunger recently landed her a role as world headquarters educator for Galaxy Nail Products. “Galaxy has sponsored my competitions for the past couple years, and Kym Lee has always been my mentor, so it seemed like the next logical step,” says Collier.
It’s in the competition arena where Collier would like to see changes happen. “It think that the judges should be seasoned nail; competitors, whether they are currently competing or retired, ” she says “You can learn so much more when your work is judged by a fellow competitor and you feel better about your score sheet. ”Taking action on this issue is one of Collier’s future goals. For now, she wants to continue being very involved in the industry and hear her name at the end of the sentence, “And the winner is ...”
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