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I was honored to be asked to judge Nailympia USA for its debut at Premiere Orlando. I have long admired the competitors, organizers, and judges of this global nail competition and the standard it sets within our industry. Here’s what I learned from my first stint as a Nailympia judge:
• Judge Vitaly Solomonoff gave me this piece of advice: “Leave your emotions at the door,” which I think is helpful for anyone judging or putting their work out there.
• The focus of a judge in Nailympia is on a particular aspect of the overall nail. The narrow focus allows judges to really home in and contribute to only part of a score. This system took the pressure off me, so I never felt like my numbers were making or breaking a competitor.
• A perfect 10 is hard to achieve. As in NTNA, the perfect score is elusive, and with good reason. A 10 is what all should strive for and shouldn’t be given freely. 
• Secrecy is key. The anonymity of the judges behind the curtain combined with the lengths that are gone to not to show anyone the final rankings ensure a completely fair competition.
• Different judges handle different kinds of categories. I personally opted to judge a nail art category, as that’s what I usually judge within our offices and for NTNA. When I looked at my fellow judges for this category, everyone was equally or more qualified in this area, meaning contestants were given quality, unrivaled feedback on their work.
• The rules are precise and well-explained. I can’t tell you how happy I was to find a rules-and-regulations handbook right next to my seat. This handbook explained every detail of each category and judging segment, so nothing was unclear.  
• Competing boosts confidence. My favorite part of this experience was watching the competitors take the stage. With multiple divisions and places, some competitors managed to walk away with stacks of medals or major goods from sponsors. Some Nailympians travel from all over, some are repeat competitors, and others send their work in, but all walk away with an air of confidence that’s unbeatable. Trust me, as I got to read the winners’ names onstage and witness the reactions firsthand. 

As someone who does not do nails, I can sometimes feel self-conscious about critiquing a nail professional’s work. However, the team behind Nailympia exudes the utmost passion for nails. That common bond is enough to boost anyone’s spirits and possibly their career. I can’t encourage you enough to consider entering this competition and receiving feedback from the top names in the nail world. 

My sincerest thanks to Alex Fox, who runs this competition and cares so deeply for everyone involved. Thank you to head judge Elaine Watson, who gave me the opportunity to see the reactions firsthand of those who took to the stage. Thank you to all who competed — you are all champions to me.

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