Congratulations to all of the talented competitors who won a spot in this year’s Top 25 Competitors Ranking. And thanks to everyone who competed against them, raising the bar of excellence throughout the industry. Beginning with the 1994 NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas, we’ve kept a tally of nail competition winners from most major U.S. nail competitions. First place wins earned six points, second place earned five points, third place earned four points, and fourth place earned three points. An award for best overall competitor at a particular show earned an extra three points. We rely on the information supplied to us by the shows’ promoters.
We hope to see all of the Top 25 competitors in Las Vegas at the NAILS Magazine Show on June 16-17 so they can receive in person the praise and awards they so richly deserve.
Tom Bächik, Sonia Glover, and Amy Cooper have a number of things in common. They’ve all demonstrated excellence in their industry, having ranked first, second, and third, respectively, in the 1995 Nail Competitions Ranking. They are all skilled craftsmen, who, like most artists, learned from other masters in the field.
And they now carry on that tradition by working as educators, helping others to develop their talents. Hear what Bächik Glover and Cooper have to stay about how they made it to the top.
|1||Tom Bachik, Bakersfield, CA||118||12||7||2||1|
|2||Sonia Glover, Myrtle Beach, SC||101||11||4||3||1|
|3||Amy Cooper, W. Allis, WI||79||9||3||1||2|
|4||Sheryl Macauley, Bakersfield CA||54||6||3||0||1|
|5||Michele Baker, Land O’Lakes, FL||48||0||5||5||1|
|6||Carla Collier, Tehachapi, CA||46||2||3||4||1|
|7||Patty Heintz, Overland Park, KS||42||4||2||2||0|
|8||Claudine Morgan, Fayetteville, NC||41||3||4||0||1|
|9||Brenda Lee Bollard, Conroe, TX||35||1||1||3||4|
|10||Debi Waszut, Charleston, SC||32||3||2||1||0|
|11||Tye Pierce, Medford, OR||31||1||2||3||1|
|Diana Ulch, Clearwater, FL||31||2||2||0||3|
|13||Victoria Sozio, Sewell, NJ||30||2||3||0||1|
|14||Danny Haile, Santa Fe Springs, CA||29||1||3||2||0|
|Janna Seeley, Medina, OH||29||4||1||0||0|
|16||Cara Urkoski, Columbus, NE||27||1||3||0||2|
|17||Michael Visconti, Orlando, FL||25||0||3||1||2|
|18||Tom Holcomb, Santa Fe Springs, CA||22||2||2||0||0|
|Sharlett Wood-Eden, Topeka, KS||22||1||1||2||1|
|20||Lena Hayes, Rancho Cucamonga, CA||21||1||3||0||0|
|21||Luann Rounds, St. Peterburg, FL||20||2||0||2||0|
|22||Brenda Skermont, Woodridge, IL||19||2||0||1||1|
|Susanne Wagner, Arvada, CO||19||1||2||0||1|
|24||Judy Jensen, Las Vegas, NV||17||2||1||0||0|
|Britta Rowson, Detroit, MI||17||1||0||2||1|
How it all began: I went into nails after weighing the cost of school and the length of time it required against how much you can make when you get out. Actually, my cousin was doing hair and he told me he’d heard of guys making $100,000 a year doing nails. I knew nothing about the industry, but after hearing that, my wife said I’d better check it out. Otherwise, I might have been doing drywall right now.
Why compete? As a student, I was looking through NAILS Magazine and saw that there were competitions and thought “No way!” I’ve always been a competitor — soccer, roller hockey, whatever.
The first time: I started competing as soon as I could. Carla Collier [who ranks sixth on this year’s list] did my mom’s nails. I told her I was going to WINBA and asked her what the judges looked for. Then I started practicing. I competed in the professional nail art category my first time out as a student and took fifth. I did Nagel designs on four of the fingers and made something up for the rest. I took second in student sculpts at the same competition. I was buffing so madly I broke off a nail tip with 30 seconds left.
Mentors: When I was in school the top competitors were Kym Lee and Tom Holcomb. I studied photos of their nails and took all the classes I could. I’d look at everyone’s technique and imitate what I liked.
Signature style: I get a lot of compliments on my sharp smile lines.
On Sonia Glover: I enjoy competing against her. If anybody else has to win, I’m glad when it’s her.
Most memorable win of the year: The most fun competition of the year for me was the NAILS show in Florida. Sonia [Glover] and I had been competing neck and neck all year. She had beaten me by one point at our last two competitions. Then she was announced third-place winner in sculpts and I took first. I really enjoyed that.
Goals: In the coming year, I hope to do more within the industry. Next year, I’ll probably hit the major shows to keep my foot in the door, but I won’t keep a real rigorous schedule. I also hope to do more educating.
How it all began: I sort of fell into competing. I have a bunch of friends who love to travel and get away from their husbands and boyfriends. When I started, it was just for fun; I never thought I would rank.
Why compete? Competing is a great chance to better yourself and take what you learn back to the salon. It’s also great advertising — having a bunch of trophies can only increase your business.
Favorite categories: I compete in tips with acrylic, fiberglass, sculptured nails, mirror image — really anything but nail art.
On Tom Bächik: We tease each other a lot, but we’re really best friends when it comes to competing.
Most memorable win of the year: NASA’s Top of the Universe competition, where I won the 10-foot-tall trophy (and beat Thomas by one point).
Mentors: I took a lot of classes and learned a lot from Danny Haile, Thomas, and Kim Morgan.
Other debts of gratitude: I also learned a lot from my mistakes. I like to ask other competitors to critique my work and tell me what they would have done differently. Also, I’ve had the same model with me all year — Vickie Foley. It helps if you have a lot of confidence in your model.
Goals: This year. Top of the Universe was a goal for me. Also, I wanted to finish in the top five [of the NAILS ranking]. Next year, I’ll compete more for the fun of it, lay I back a little, and maybe get more into educating.
Favorite category: I’ll compete in any category — nail art, sculptured, tip and overlay, you name it. I even did fantasy nails at NASA.
Mentors: I picked up most of my tricks and techniques from other competitors, particularly Sheryl Macauley, Diana Ulch, and Lori Ribar, who’s really been my mentor. They were so nice and helpful. I was really impressed and inspired by them.
Why compete? Competition has to be fun. As much as it’s nerve-wracking in the beginning, when the nerves wear off, it should be fun and educational. That’s why I hung around due to the encouragement and generosity of those three [Macauley, Ulch, and Ribar]. That’s why I’m always happy to share advice. Education doesn’t do you any good unless you share it.
Most memorable win of the year. The Aerial competition last April. It was three weeks before my due date (her son Christian was born on May 16) and I won back-to-back firsts. The judges were afraid to announce my second first place; they thought my water might break.
The voice of experience: What I learned at my first few competitions is to never pass up an opportunity to compete. I learn from every single event I go to. That’s been my main form of education. I got my first first-place win in ‘92 and then not again until November ‘94. I learn more from placing than from winning.