From Dawn To Dusk With Kym Lee

Kym Lee, founder/CEO of Galaxy Nail Products (Corona, Calif.), drives more than an hour each Thursday to do nails for loyal clients in a Huntington Beach, Calif., Salon.

Kym Lee, founder/CEO of Galaxy Nail Products (Corona, Calif.), drives more than an hour each Thursday to do nails for loyal clients in a Huntington Beach, Calif., Salon. “Doing nails is my passion and it is therapeutic,” says Lee, who claims only one ulterior motive: product testing in a real-world laboratory. NAILS senior editor Debbie Rosenkrantz spent a 16-hour day in the salon with Lee. Here is a glimpse of the hardworking nail technician.

After receiving permission from Salon Canvass owners Richard Towle (on floor), D. Kevin Macaulay (middle), and john Lantow (right), kym Lee installed a dedicated phone line (with hands-free headset) near her station at the back of the salon so she can stay in touch with Galaxy headquarters throughout the day.

The rooster hasn’t even crowned when Lee opens Salon Canvass and prepares for her first client with a few sips of Diet Coke and half a blueberry scone. She quickly calls Jim Arsenault of Nailco Salon marketplace to discuss product distribution.

Lee’s first client Norma Pirckett arrives 10 minutes late for her backfill. “My eyes popped open and I bolted out of bed once I saw it was light outside. I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh! I must be late for my nail appointment!” She relates the latest anecdotes about her daughter and husband as Lee adds one new sculptured nail to her right thumb.

Not many brides-to-be would drive more than three hours to get their nails done just two days before the wedding. Still, colleague and long-time friend Stephanie Olofson, made the trek from Techapi, Calif., to have Lee apply a perfect set of pink-and-whites.

Lee’s hairstylist and co-worked, Griffin Michael, reschedules his 12:30 appointment for 8:15 p.m. Lee checks in with Galaxy and then takes a rare lunch break, where she discusses her competitive spirit. “Competing helps you keep your edge in the salon,” says Lee. “it gives you credibility and motivates you to say sharp and excited.”

Lee plays teacher/mentor to beginning nail technician Michon Spina (right), who watches as Lee preps six-year client Barbara Nemeth’s nails for a backfill.

“You know you have been doing nails for a long time when your clients who used to bring their children in with them to their appointment now bring their grandchildren in,” laughs Lee, as she watches 16-year client Beverly Goulette wheel her grandson back to her station.

After applying translucent Naples Breeze polish over 13-year client and AIDS nurse Janice Justis backfill, Lee calls the office to make sure everything went smoothly at the end of the business day, even though her work day is only about half over. She pulls her hair into a ponytail and dives back into work.

As she waits to begin her refill service, 12-year client Delaine Orach picks up Lee’s cuticle nippers and starts to pick acrylic off her broken nails.

“Delaine is my problem child,” she says, playfully scolding her client and explaining why she shouldn’t use nippers to pick at the acrylic.

Lee applies short acrylic overlays on Michael’s nails to protect them from water and staining from coloring chemicals. Lee applies the pink and white acrylic to look as natural as possible.

After a long day of backfills, refills, one new client, one full set, and four broken nails, Lee locks the salon up with a smile as bright as the one she started the day with.

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