Goodbye to a Dear Friend: Helen Vanegas

The industry, and I personally, lost a dear friend recently when NAILS sales rep Helen Vanegas died.

<p>Helen Vanegas shown here in 1993 at NAILS Magazine's 10th Anniversary party with Tony Cuccio of Star Nail Products.</p>The nail industry—and I personally—lost a good friend on January 16. Helen Vanegas, who had been NAILS’ advertising sales rep since 1989, lost her long battle with ovarian cancer. She was a wonderfully sweet woman who loved the nail business and this magazine, and made everyone she connected with feel good about themselves.

She took to heart the idea that if you cannot say something nice about someone, don’t say it at all. She was genuinely interested in people and when she asked, “How are you?” she stopped and waited for your answer.

I knew Helen for nearly 12 years, and worked with her much of that time. Although technically I was the boss, I learned more from her than she ever got from me. She was so good at her job because she knew that when you really care about people, it shows.

She made friends of bullies and blowhards because she looked for the good in people—and found it.<p>1996. Helen with Backscratchers' president, Mike Megna</p>

Helen did everything with a flourishShe dressed with a flourish, matching from top to bottom (she was so exacting about her nail color matching her outfit that she usually custom-mixed her own polish.) She entertained with a flourish, wowing her guests with exquisite meals and a table dressed to the nines. She traveled with a flourish—bringing not only enough suitcases to carry matching shoes, bags, and jewelry, but also a set of candles, bubble bath, a full-sized framed photo of her family, her own coffee pot, and usually a full bottle of wine.<p>1993. L-R: Helen, Carl and Carol Bianconi of Nail Art ala Carte, Ed Bobit (publisher of NAILS Magazine)</p>

She did things that made people say, “I wish I was more like that.”

She lived and fought a very long battle with a flourish as well, and no one who knew her could help but be awed by the grace and courage she showed in her final years.


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