As natural nail care, sculptured nails and nail art increase in popularity throughout Europe, more nails-only salons are opening, skilled technicians are sharing their knowledge with other manicurists, and more suppliers are setting up channels of distribution.

In West Germany, Renee Schneider of Magic Nails is making an impact on the European nail industry through her involvement in all three aspects of the business: her salon, seminars and product distribution.

Renee used to have a shop in Munchen-Schwabing where she and her daughter made and sold sweaters. Renee says it was a “lucky chance” that got her started in the nail industry — but it appears that hard work and dedication are what have kept her going successfully since she started in 1981.

Renee had been on vacation in Hawaii for five weeks with her sister and stopped off in Los Angeles for a week before returning home. While in LA, she noticed the long beautiful nails sported by Southern California women.

“Back in Munich, I had to find out about nail companies in the United States,” Renee recalled. “The American Consul gave me some addresses.”

Among the contacts she made was Alyce Brand. The two met in Paris, France, and began to do business together. Alyce helped Renee learn to apply sculptured nails and arranged for her to attend classes. “You don’t know how hard it was,” Renee said. “It took me about three months of hard work and exercise to learn it. How can I teach, not doing it well myself? Every friend and relative had to be a model, sometimes until late at night.”

Renee also learned from Maggi Smith, who was in Germany at that time. (Now based in Amsterdam, Holland, Maggi recently served as a judge for WINBA’s World Championship competition.)

Having mastered the techniques, Renee began to share her knowledge. Her first classes were held at the Hotel Bayrischer Hot in Munich in May 1982. She had six students the first time, and reported that “From there on, the business got better and better. We turned in a successful business.”

Now Renee holds classes in her nail salon, and on weekends she holds seminars throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Recently, Renee traveled to Hamburg, West Germany, to teach nail care at a cosmetology school. Tips, wraps, basic manicures tor natural nails and nail art are among the skills she teaches.

At the same time, Renee also has a nail salon to run. Hers is one of about 15 nails-only shops in Munich, which are becoming more and more popular. Hairdressing shops and cosmetic shops are also adding sculptured nails to their services, Renee reported.

Salons are open from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday only, according to Renee. Longer hours are not allowed. “I would like to have it open every day; this is not possible,” she says.

With all the teaching and traveling Renee does, it’s hard to imagine that she would have the time and energy to keep the salon open longer hours — especially because Renee is now also a distributor. She supplies salons throughout West Germany as well as Switzerland and Austria. In August she went to Italy for a week to see if she could set up a distribution network for nail care products there.

“First I had a little salon. Now I am a big distributor and I have a very nice salon in a high-living part of Munich,” she says proudly, reflecting on the progress she has made since 1981 when she first discovered the potential of nails.

“Next year they will hold the first nail show over here,” Renee announced. “Nails are getting well known over here. Starting five years ago, no one knew anything about nails.”

A typical example of this progress is the attitude of the media. During her first year in business, Renee had to spend a lot of money to get articles in newspapers and magazines. By contrast, now it’s the media who come to her, asking for permission to write about her nail salon and distribution business.

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