Customer Service

My First Nail Service

Ten salon clients share their inaugural experience getting their nails done, and what it was exactly that got them hooked.

<p>Maeling Parrish (right) with her client Lonnie Newman</p> 

We thought we’d turn the tables on 10 nail technicians and ask each of them to suggest one long-term client we could contact to find out why she has remained loyal for so long.

Although some of the clients we spoke to went elsewhere for their first nail service, each of them has her own reasons for staying with the best technician in town.

It Was Better Than I Expected

About five years ago, Mamie Gunnlaugson, who never had her nails done before, admired the gel nails worn by a coworker and thought she’d give it a try. She was referred to Carrie Kohuch, owner of About U Salon & Spa in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and has been a loyal client ever since.

“My first nail service was better than what I had expected,” says Gunnlaugson. “I thought my nails would pop off right away, but they lasted three weeks I Carrie is so friendly and communicative. I always look forward to my appointment. I’ve even been a competition model for her.”

Not only is Kohuch her nail technician, but the two women have become really close friends outside of the salon.

She Gives a Gift to My Hands

As a meat packer for a major supermarket chain, Lonnie Newman’s hands were in desperate need of repair — she had split nails, cracked cuticles, and the powdered Latex gloves she was required to wear left her hands extremely dry. Although she was embarrassed to have her nails worked on, coworkers convinced her to go to their nail technician, MaeLing Parrish That was nine years ago. Today, Newman is still a regular client at Nail Sensation in Columbus, Ohio, and it’s all because of Parrish.

“When I first sat down at MaeLing’s workstation, she didn’t even react to the bad condition of my hands and nails,” Newman recollects. “She simply went to work and took the time she needed to transform my hands. She really made me feel at ease. From that day on, I have worn oval-shaped, medium-length acrylic nails. I am always receiving compliments on my nails, and how natural they look. MaeLing is such a professional and her skill is of such high-quality that it’s not like she’s working on my nails, but that she’s giving a gift to my hands.

“She Explains Exactly What She’s Going to Do

Sybil Muller had a constant, annoying split thumbnail, which would get caught on everything. One evening back in 1987, the salon where she had her hair done held a meet-and-greet reception for clients. That night she met Kathleen Smelser, who was the only nail technician working at the salon.

Says Muller, “From the moment I sat down at her manicure table, Kathy put me at ease and I felt very comfortable with her. She explained exactly how she was going to treat my thumbnail.” Smelser now owns Finishing Touch Salon in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., and not only has Muller been a loyal client for nearly 20 years, her daughter and husband have followed in her footsteps.

I’m Now Proud of My Hands

Kathy Thornton was a chronic nail biter, and the woman who could help was right underneath her nose at the salon where she got her hair done. One day nail technician Maisie Dunbar, who rented space in the back of the beauty shop, approached Thornton and suggested she get her nails done. Thornton was very apprehensive at first because she never had a nail service before, but she finally agreed to a manicure and fiberglass wraps. Now, 12 years later, Thornton remains a regular client, but now gets acrylics, and has followed Dunbar to her own salon, M&M Nails and Wellness Center in Silver Spring, Md.

Thornton recalls the day Dunbar first worked her magic on her nails’ “When she was done, I was surprised that those were my hands. I started showing off my nails to everyone, instead of always keeping my hands in my pockets. I was amazed at the after effect.”

The Atmosphere Feels Like Coming Home

Jean Fisher was a nail biter, and in 1987 she decided to do something about it. When she first started going to V.I.P. Salon & Spa, she was booked with a nail technician who applied tips with acrylic Although her nails looked awesome afterward, they would lift a lot Then, when the nail technician left the salon, Fisher was booked with owner Reneé Borowy, who kept trying different products on her nails until she found one that worked.

“I was nicknamed ‘the nail problem client,’” laughs Fisher, who now gets pink-and-whites. “I am so impressed with how Reneé makes my nails look. VI.P. is the model for a great salon. Reneé trains every one of her technicians, so clients can rest assured that if their technician is not available, any other one will do a wonderful job.

“The formality and lack of knowledge at some salons made me feel uncomfortable,” says Fisher. “However, at V.I.P., every technician is extremely knowledgeable, and the atmosphere is like coming home.”

“She Treats Everyone the Same Way

After finishing college five years ago, Karli Kaplon started working as a customer- service representative and wanted her nails to look nice Since there aren’t many salons in the. area she lives in, she just happened to call the one where Rhonda Kibuk worked and was booked for a manicure with her.

“It was a wonderful first experience,” says Kaplon “I really loved the way my nails looked afterward, and they even look great without polish. Rhonda is extremely friendly and makes you feel welcome. She treats everyone the same way.”

Kibuk now owns The Purple Pinkie Nail Salon in Ford City, Pa., and Kaplon still remains a regular in her chair.

My First Manicure Led to My Career

Lindsey Hart was only 14 years old when her mother drove her to her first manicure. While all of her friends were going to discount salons, Lindsey wanted the best. At the time, Lisa Kirkland and Lynda Ward took turns working on Lindsey’s and her mother’s nails.

“I felt right at home at the salon,” says Hart.” Lisa and Lynda are both such warm and welcoming women. I even worked through high school so I could afford to get my nails done.”

As a regular salon client, Hart learned about other beauty services, and over the years, she became very passionate about skin care. Then, about three years ago, Kirkland and Ward ventured out to open their own salon, A Perfect Pair Nail Salon & Spa in Dunedin, Fla.

“Lisa and Lynda really wanted me to work with them,” says Hart, “and they gave me the push I needed to attend skin care school. After becoming an esthetician, they really took me under their wings. It’s quite amazing that my first nail experience led to my career.”

She’s Really Good at What She Does

Nellie Cutright had salon-hopped for a few years because the acrylic nails she had applied never lasted as long as the nail technicians promised. Then, as luck would have it, one day at the laundromat she came across Barbara Lee’s business card. Her salon, Country Nails & More in French Creek, W.Va., was located nearby.

Says Cutright, who has been a client of Lee’s for four years now, “At my first visit, it took Barbara three hours to remove the acrylic. By the time she was done, my nails were a horrible mess, but Barbara transformed them. Not only is she really good at what she does, she is also a great person.”

She Makes You Feel so Darn Good

For about 15 years, Mary Ann Reising endured frustration, and sometimes, even pain, to have nice-looking nails. She tried many different discount salons because of the prevalence of them in her area, and sometimes the technician would over-file her nails, which would be painful. Then, five years ago, her bad luck in choosing the wrong salon changed when a friend of hers told her about Kimberly Setzer, owner of Allure Salon & Spa in Algona, Iowa.

“Kim makes you feel so darn good, which is nice after a busy day,” says Reising. “She is such a positive person and is always upbeat. Also, the salon environment is much more relaxed than the salons I had been to before. Kim really loves what she does, and it shows.”

“It’s a Place Where You Can Cultivate Friendships

Ana Kaufman was only five years old when her family left Cuba and moved to Florida. One day, a few years ago, while driving in her neighborhood, her eyes immediately honed in on the sign for Havana Nights Nails & Spa. Kaufman recalls, “When I saw the name, I had to check it out because I am from Havana. What I noticed right away was the cleanliness and how pristine the salon was.”

Cuban-bornowner Sandra Casanova has been Kaufman’s nail technician and friend ever since that day. Says Kaufman, “Sandra really takes her time and gives you individual attention.”

Kaufman also likes that the salon offers other types of beauty services, and that the staff is very accommodating with appointments and will go the extra mile to fit clients in. She was even treated to baklava with coffee for her birthday. Says Kaufman, “It’s not just a salon, but a place where you can cultivate friendships.”

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