Her harmless addiction to beauty tradeshows alerted Kimberly Patterson, a nail technician and owner of Artistic Nail Supply in Fairfax, Va., to the need for quality nail products in her area.
When Patterson first started attending shows, she was amazed at the variety of nail products available. “I was buying sample kits of every product I could get my hands on. I felt like a kid in a candy store,” she says. Patterson says that using different products helps her improve her work and makes her job much easier.
It wasn’t long before Patterson noticed a recurring problem. “I’d return home from a show to find out some of the products I’d seen weren’t available in my area. For example, there are only five acrylic products offered through local suppliers, so you can see my frustration at not being able to readily get the products other than at the shows,” she says.
Patterson’s only choice was to call each nail manufacturer’s 800 number and have them send her the products directly. “Then I thought, “What about all the other nail techs in my area who aren’t aware of all the products out there because they don’t travel to shows,” she says.
“I wanted to be able to offer a variety of products as well as the education I received in competition and classes to the nail technicians in my area.” So, in July 1993, Patterson, who has been a nail technician for 15 years, left her salon job and opened Artistic Nail Supply.
“I began doing outside sales and worked from home. I’d carry my demo bag into salons and say, “I’d like to show you a wonderful new product.” Some nail techs were willing to listen to what I had to say, while others were close-minded,” says Patterson. At the time, she was more-well known on the national competition circuit them in her own backyard.
Since her nail supply business has grown so much, Patterson has moved into a store location. She spends her 60-hour work week managing the store (which employs a part-time nail technician), doing nails, and teaching manufacturer classes.
So how did this nail technician/business owner/manufacturer’s educator/competitor with four NAILS covers under her belt get into the nail business?
Believe it or not, before her claim to nail fame, Patterson was a radio deejay. “I was a disc jockey for a radio station in Phoenix for eight years making $150 a week when I found out my nail technician was making $300 a week, I thought it would be fun to do nails and earn good money at the same time. I always thought if you’re going to spend eight hours a day at a job, you ought to enjoy it,” says Patterson.
Shortly thereafter, Patterson moved back home to Michigan and worked her way through school at a restaurant, where she met her future employer. ‘She said she would offer me a job as soon as I passed my state board exam,’ says Patterson. “The day I completed my hours, I stopped at the salon to tell her I could work.”
Three weeks later, after passing her state board exam, Patterson started working at Natural Cosmetics in Novi, Mich.
Now three salons and 10 years later Patterson is very happy doing nails and running a burgeoning nail supply. Her goal is to increase the awareness of the nail industry. Her dream? “I’d like to put on my own nail show within the next two years specifically for education. Around here, technicians don’t have anywhere to go for manufacturer classes or continuing education. I’d like all nail technicians to have the chance, like I had, to be exposed to the products and education available in the industry.”
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