No Friends Like Nail Friends

Nail friends,  who are techs that we meet through the course of our work lives, truly understand each other.  Meet my nail friends.

How many times have you gone to a class, attended a show, or just randomly met another nail tech you vowed to keep in touch with? More importantly, did you? Tuning in to others around you just may give you the opportunity to develop amazing friendships that reach beyond the nail table. This is my story about my amazing nail friends. Hopefully it will inspire you to develop your own group of nail “angels” to surround yourself with.

My friendships developed as I began to further my career in the nail industry. In 2004, I attended a class in Cleveland taught by Vicki Peters about goal-setting. After the class I waited to speak to this guru for some advice. I had been in the industry for 15 years, had worked in top salons, traveled around the world for education, and was at the time home with a young family. I asked Vicki what that next step might be for me. She looked me square in the face and said, “You need to be an educator.” And with that she marched me down to the show floor and introduced me to several regional managers from top companies. She took a chance on me and I did not want to disappoint her. I had no way of knowing the tremendous journey I was about to begin. I followed up every introduction with a resume and thank-you letter for the opportunity to discuss the possibility of becoming an educator. I got several calls back and by the next show, five months later, when I saw Vicki again, I was an educator.

Soon after joining the company, the regional manager position became available. I was set to attend a regional training and was encouraged to apply for the position. How could I do that? I haven’t even worked a major show, didn’t know any of the other educators — it was all just too fast for me. The national sales manager convinced me to fly into Chicago and interview for the position. The meeting went very well and she encouraged me again to consider taking the position. I was still very hesitant and before I went to the training I withdrew myself from consideration.

The training at the Midwest Chicago show would alter the direction of my career forever. This was also where I first met Chelly Eric of Salon Nirvana in Winthrop Harbor, Ill., Gina Malson of The Nail Buff in Fondulac, Wis., and Carol Ervin of Salon Innovations in Mishewaka, Ind. That first training was to this day one of the best experiences I’ve had. It’s not that the training itself was that great; it opened my eyes to a whole new level of technicians and new possibilities out there for me to challenge myself. All of us were in different salon situations, different years in our careers, yet we all now shared the common bond of being manufacturers’ educators. We also discovered that several of us had interviewed for the regional manager position. In another situation that may have brought out the competitive spirit, but we all enjoyed each others’ company so much it really didn’t matter who they chose. I was a bit disappointed that I had withdrawn myself for consideration when I met the great group of women I would be working with. The fear I had of taking on this new position was unwarranted.

I looked forward to the next event that would bring us together again to share, laugh, and of course eat! Every show was another opportunity to connect with each other and our lives. We would swap stories about our businesses, our kids, employee problems, and marketing ideas. Chelly and Gina were salon owners when we first met. Chelly has a beautiful salon in her home where she does both nails and hair. Gina has a charming booth-rental nail salon in a home that she owns in downtown Fondulac. I opened my full-service salon in 2001, offering nails, hair, skin care, waxing, and makeup. Carol opened her full-service booth-rental salon, Nolas, in Mishewaka in 2006. Carol also offers hair, nails, skin care, waxing, and makeup. I rarely find anyone who does both hair and nails in the salon and all four of us were full cosmetologists with different specialties.

I know a portion of the confidence I needed to open my own salon came from the wisdom and guidance I received and from sharing so much about our own salon experiences. Whenever we were scheduled for the same event we would always plan on either rooming together or at least meeting for dinner to catch up. The conversation would always end up about business or nails. These events soon became fewer and farther apart as our careers started to take us in different directions.

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