Kelly Ostraat wants the industry to recognize that home-based salons can be professional. It’s not where the salon is located that determines professionalism, she says, it’s the nail technician’s attitude. And Ostraat’s attitude is all business. NAILS editors met Ostraat at the NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas, Nev., in November 1993.

Working at home hasn’t kept Ostraat out of touch with the industry. To the contrary, she believes she expends more energy keeping up on new trends and business issues than a nail technician working in a traditional salon does to make up for the lack of contract she has with other nail care professionals.

“I try to go to the IBS Seattle show each year for an overview of the beauty industry, and I attend the NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas for industry-specific information. I try to go to two more shows each year. I like to travel to other areas of the country to see what’s happening in nails there.”

Ostraat says her travels always pay off. “For example, last year at this show, Seche Vite was here. I had seen their ad in the magazine and was intrigued with their product. I called and they sent me a sample, so I stocked up on the product at the show. My clients love it and they think I’m so smart for finding it. I introduced it to a technician at my old salon and now her clients are hooked.”

Because many companies don’t provide samples, Ostraat spends lots of time on the tradeshow floor looking at what’s available and watching product demonstrations. To make sure she gets the most out of each show, she always requests a pre-show brochure.

“I find the classes of interest to me and I plan my time to get the most out of what’s offered. What I target depends on market trends, my clients’ questions, and my own interest,” says Ostraat.

Planning was certainly the key for Ostraat at the NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas. On the first morning, she was up early to attend classes before the show opened; then she spent the afternoon on the show floor. On the second morning she paid extra to attend the 8a.m. Breakfast of Champions seminar. After the seminar ended at 11 a.m. she talked to NAILS editors for half an hour, then took a 15-minute break before she attended a two-hour focus group discussion on education. At 2 p.m she left to catch her flight back to Portland.

Although time was tight, Ostraat accomplished her goals: She attended the chemical safety class taught by industry chemist Doug Schoon and a business class to find out more about booth rental issues. Later, she examined disinfection products and gel systems and gathered product information from exhibitor’s booths.

“I also talked to manufacturers of acrylic systems about what could cause air pockets in the center of some of my client’s nails. I can ask the manufacturers specific questions like this, and sometimes they’ll have the answer,” she says.

What was the highlight of the show for Ostraat? “The Breakfast of Champions was very inspiring and I came away with a positive feeling about the industry I work in. It was very motivating. Being in a home salon, it’s easy to lose touch with the industry and all the opportunities available,” she concludes.

While travelling to shows helps her stay ahead of new product developments and business issues, Ostraat says she might not travel as frequently if she worked in a salon that offered in-salon education. She thinks continuing education should be required for nail technicians, but not only does Oregon not require continuing education, Ostraat says she can’t find very  many classes in the Portland area. Until there are more, she says, she’ll continue to spend time on the road.

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