Behind the Scenes: Shari Finger

Shari Finger, owner of Finger's Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill., did sculptured acrylic nails on this month's cover model.

One word describes Shari Finger's feeling when she was named Nail Technician of the Year for 1997: Wow! Although she was speechless at first while accepting the award, Finger has plenty to say now.

"I really want to use my title as a platform to do something good for our industry. I want to set a good example and get some positive PR for nails," says the owner of Fingers' Nail Studios in W. Dundee, Ill. Her crusade? To wipe out dangerous discount salons off the map.

"Consumers should be aware of salons that don't practice safe sanitation, that use products containing MMA, and that use drills incorrectly. If consumers stop going to these types of salons, the salons will eventually disappear. What bugs me is that so many of us go above and beyond the call of duty for our clients while others are doing the bare minimum and are still in business. I'm tired of people coming to me after the damage is done to their nails and all I can do is refer them to a doctor."

To get the word out about these "unprofessional" salons, Finger and her staff are putting together a newsletter for their clients devoted to what the expect in a nail salon -- from proper sanitation to high-quality products. Finger is also sending out press packages to newspapers, talk shows, and women's magazines about her award-winning salon, which will include a letter about the bad publicity the nail industry is getting because of the poor practices of many discount salons. "If enough people knock at the door, eventually someone has to answer it," she says.

Answering an ad for receptionist in a nails-only salon is how Finger got her start in the business 11 years ago. Illinois didn't have the nail technician licensing at the time so she literally learned by watching over a nail technician’s shoulder.

"Basically, I was self-taught. I watched by day and practiced by night. Nails got in my blood," she says. A year later, after working as a nail technician in two other salons, Finger opened her own salon. Her impressive resume also includes retired competitor, competition judge, competition director, and former NIA secretary/treasurer.

And now she can add cover technician to her many hats. Always considerate of others, Finger brought the "surprised" cover model a small gift pack of beauty products to show her appreciation. It's thoughtful acts like this that go into the making of a Nail Technician of the Year.

caption: Shari Finger applies the same level of concentration and intensity during the cover shot as she does to all of her other industry roles. But she does take time to relax with her husband, two young sons, and three dogs.

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