"The best thing that could have ever happened to me was being laid off from my job as a grocery store clerk," says LaCinda Headings, a cosmetologist at The Strand, in Hutchinson, Kansas.  Headings lost her job in 1986 and has since found career happiness and success in the beauty business.

“I always wanted to go to beauty school because I’ve always been interested in hair, beauty, and nails,” she says. When she started beauty school, Headings didn’t know what opportunities were available to her. She enjoyed doing hair, but after taking a few nail courses, she realized her passion was nails. “I love creating nails where there are none,” says Headings.

After receiving her cosmetologist’s license in 1987, she got a job doing hair and nails at The Strand. (In Kansas, a licensed cosmetologist can do both hair and nails; a nails-only license is also offered.)

In addition to working as a nail technician, Headings is a school specialist for CND as well as a member of the company’s photo shoot team. This experience came in handy when she did the NAILS cover shoot. “As a member of the photo shoot team, we learned a lot about camera angles, composition, and how to create photo-perfect nails,” she says. Headings’ expertise in this area was feted when she was one of the top three finalists at NAHA last year.

As a manufacturer’s educator, she has had the opportunity to travel a lot, which she enjoys very much. “The farthest place I’ve traveled to, so far, is Germany,” says Headings, who placed sixth doing tips in an open competition at a Dusseldorf tradeshow.

When she’s not working or traveling, Headings enjoys spending time with her husband, Jeff. “We like to get away and go to a hotel for the weekend and not have to worry about answering the phone or cleaning house,” she says. “Or we’ll have a movie marathon and go out and see three movies over the weekend.”

Headings, who is very dedicated to her career, believes nail technicians need to be concerned about beauty school education. “That is where we are getting our future professionals,” she says. “As an industry we can help improve the education of nail students by volunteering as school guest speakers, attending career days, and getting involved with state board issues.”

As for her future in nails, Headings would like to do more photography work. Beyond that, she leaves her mind open to unexpected opportunities. Since a lot of her success has been due in part to being at the right place at the right time, she is looking forward to what will happen next.

5 Tips for Techs Who Want to do Photo Shoots

1. Hone your skills.  The camera picks up even the tiniest flaws.  Work at making the nails thin, since the lens makes them look heavier than they actually are.

2. Find and train a good photographer to do your portfolio work.  He should be willing to let you help with the session.  Show him what you’re looking for.

3. Learn to work under pressure.  At the photo shoot you want the nails to look perfect but the photographer is waiting for you to finish.  Relax, take some deep breaths, and center yourself.  You’ll work more efficiently if you’re not stressed.

4. Choose a good model for your portfolio and, if allowed, for the photo shoot.  An ideal model is one with slim, long nail plates as well as infinite patience.  She must be able to hold a pose and take direction.

5. Make yourself known in the industry.  Compete, work for a manufacturer, and attend tradeshows and classes.  Network—find the people who hire nail technicians for photo shoots and show them your portfolio.


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