The Nail Trend, with its warm, friendly atmosphere, subdued yet complimentary decor and reputation for quality, consistent work, seems to epito­mize what a nail salon should be.

But lately the shop is getting its notoriety not from the work or the clients that pass through the doors, or the fact that it has made quite a niche in one of the toughest nail markets in Southern California…but instead from the actions of one nail technician, a Leila Hoback, an attractive, vivacious young woman who has been having quite an impact on the nail competition circuit.

In less than a year of competing, Leila, the 23-year-old daughter of Nail Trend owner Irene Hoback, has won top honors in all five competitions entered.

Her most recent achievement: First place in the Jack Sperling Nail and Beauty Expo help in Los Angeles, California in August.

Previous to that event Leila picked up a first place at the Nail Symposium in San Diego, Cali­fornia; fifth place in the Long Beach Hairdressers Guild in Long Beach, California; second place at the Spring Fever held in Los Angeles, California, and third place in the World International Nail and Beauty Association's competitions held in Anaheim, California.

Although a bit overwhelmed by her competition successes, and at a loss to explain just how it is she does it, Leila does admit to loving the excitement of the competitions, the nervousness and the camaraderie among some of the competitors.

"Competing is a lot of fun," explained Leila, "and so nerve wracking. I get psyched for days ahead of the competition. And this last one, at the Sperling Nail Expo, I was just overwhelmed by the reac­tions from other competitors, the show ... I really felt like queen for a day."

Sitting at her station in the Hunting­ton Beach, California, salon, Leila was obviously still excited about winning first place ... but not as excited or as proud as Mom. During the interview, Irene took a personal delight at showing off the scrap book of photos and media coverage earned by her talented daughter.

"Mom is like the manager in the corner," giggled Leila, "very sup­portive and always urging me on. In fact, the last couple of competitions, she arranged all the details ahead of time, evening paying for the entry fees and tickets, and then telling me I was competing."

Irene, an accomplished nail tech­nician in her own right, laughed at the analogy of the manager and described her role as moral support.

"It starts up here," she said, pointing to her head, "and deals with positives and negatives. If you keep thinking positively, and feel good about what you do, then it will feel right and be right. The trick," she said, "is to get rid of negative thought, to think positive."

In addition to that bit of advice for beginning competitors, Leila offered her own insights . . . including a comment of her style.

"Besides having that positive attitude, I concentrate on the basics when I'm competing. Nothing elaborate in my set up or prepara­tions, just very simplified.

"I don't have any gimmicks or short cuts, but I do have all the tools of the trade on the table. And I don't tend to overload my thinking with procedures."

According to Leila, everything is systematic and centers around her model.

"The model is also very impor­tant," she admitted, "and in fact I have used the same model for all the competitions.

"But during the competition, I just try and concentrate on getting the product on, then getting a natural looking nail that fits the hand. By concentrating on the product application, I can eliminate unnecessary filing," she said.

She generally completes her competition nails in two hours and 15 minutes, taking a full hour for the nail product.

"The rest of the time is the fun part... the detail work," she said.

Beyond those comments, Leila is herself unsure of what she does specifically that would help beginners, commenting instead that "I think I just have an eye for the kind of nail that wins."

But she did have some observa­tions for those that are competing or thinking about it. The first is to take the same actions she took when deciding to compete ... "check out a few competitions and look at the type of work being done and what the judges are looking for."

"But you have to have the right attitude, a positive attitude," she added.

The reaction to all this winning from her co-workers in the five-station shop has hardly been mixed ... they seem to be as proud of Leila's trophies as she is, even though they are starting to over­whelm a corner of the shop near her station.

And the reaction from her clients?

"Most are very supportive, and want to know all about the compe­tition, where it was held, that sort of thing. But I do get the occasional comment like 'Are your prices going up now that your winning?” she said.

To handle that situation, Leila offers what she calls the competition set, for a higher fee than she normally charges.

One other outcome of her competitions, according to Leila, is that preparing for the events, and the concentration needed had helped in other area: More specifically in the setting of long range goals, both personal and professional.

With such success, will she con­tinue to compete? Absolutely, even if she is unsuccessful. It's just too much fun, she says, with a bit of a twinkle in those blue/green eyes.

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