Nail Technician of the Year: Debra Shoaff

Debra Shoaff is Nail Technician of the Year for 1996. She discusses her work ethic and how she approaches nails.

Nail technician/owner: The Nail and Hair Gallery

Location: Wampum,PA

Years doing nails: 20

Age: 38

Making Nails Number One

Working as only nail technician in a hair salon for 17 years, Debra Shaoff treated as outsider.” I felt as if nails were a second-class service in the salon,” she says. When Shoaff started her nail career, it was unfashionable to be a manicurist, she says. “Nails had no respect at our school due to the fact that the teacher used manicuring as ‘Monday morning busy work,” remembers Shoaff.

<p>You'd never know this was once a normal suburban garage. Shoaff's home-based salon is sophisticated and professional.&nbsp;</p>

Ten years into her career, Shoaff became an educator for nails manufacturer. “I was like a sponge for information from the company and other nail technicians,” says Shoaff. “my skills improved and so did my desire to do [perfect nails.”

In 1991, Shoaff was able to branch out on her own and opened her home-based salon, The Nails and Hair Gallery in Wampun,Pa., which employs two full time nail technicians. The salon has a clean, ultra- modern look with coordinated furniture for sophisticated nails and hair stations. Shoaff created the look in a converted two-car garage with the help of her husband and friends.

<p>Debra Shoaff gets a hug from NAILS Shows competition director Sharon Parker when her name was called at the NAILS Industry Awards banquet.</p>

It’s because of her strong commitment to the nail industry, and to gaining the respect of her peers and the public that Shoaff nominated herself as Nail Technician of the Year.

“I have set standards for myself as professional nail technician,” says Shoaff.”I exhaust all avenues open to me for education seminars, tradeshows, competitions, and professional magazines in my pursuit excellence.”

As her name was announced the winner, Shoaff says she felt thrilled and honored. “My clients appreciate my effort, but to have industry appreciate it to makes me feel very proud’” says Shoaff, who was NAILS’ 1994 home-based Salon of the Year winner.

After winning the award in 1994, Shoaff’s salon was mentioned on a local Pittsburgh television station and was featured I n a local newspaper. “The media coverage brought us 48 new clients in six weeks,” says Shoaff, who is quick to point out that the quality of her craft is second only to the relationship she has formed with her clients. “They are my inspiration, my friends, and my reward for the efforts to perfection,” she says.

Shoaff’s quest for knowledge doesn’t stop at the beauty industry. She has found that motivational tapes are great contribution to the well-being of herself, her business, her employees, and her clients.

As her 20-years high school reunion approaches, Shoaff is anxious to share her success story with former classmates. Many of them became hairstylist and had no interest in doing nails or respect for the industry. They turned up their noses at her desire to do nails. Shoaff specializes in acrylic, but has also mastered the art of gels, airbrushing, hand-painted nail art, and fiberglass. She’s also scheduled to do a covered for NAILS Magazine as part of her award. So who’s laughing now?

“My career has run full circle,” says Shoaff.” Im on the cosmetology advisory committee at the school where I graduated from, and now nails are no longer considered second-rate to hair.”

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