Behind the Scenes: Melinda Nelson

Cover tech Melinda Nelson has always been a nail junkie.

<p>&ldquo;About five years ago the booming service was fiberglass,&rdquo; says Melinda Nelson (right). &ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s pink and white acrylic nails. To remain successful, you have to do what the market dictates.&rdquo;</p>

As a little girl, Melinda Nelson remembers asking her mom to buy her glue-on nails. "I have always noticed people’s nails," says the owner of The Nail Cottage in Escondido, Calif. Actually, Nelson's official introduction into the world of nails came about when she was a nail-biting teenager and sought help from a technician. Eventually, her technician (who taught her how to do nails) left the business, so after Nelson graduated from nail school and began working in a salon, she inherited her former technician's clientele.

A few salons later, in January 1995, Nelson opened her own home-based salon. "It's very quiet and relaxing — things 1 couldn't control while working elsewhere," she says. Also in 1995, Nelson became a manufacturer's educator. "I had something to say and I had learned enough from the business that I wanted to help other tech­nicians," she explains. It was in nail school where Nelson realized her fondness for teaching. "I was doing full sets in 1 112 hours, and I ended up helping out many of the other students," she says.

That same year, Nelson worked for a nails-only product distributor as a sales representative/educator. Although she's no longer with the company, she says the educational experience was invaluable. "I visited salons where business was booming and saw some where business was dying. I could see what helped make a salon successful and what makes one fail." The biggest factor, she says, is location, location, location. A salon located in a high-end part of town that caters to their clientele's taste in salon decor and nail services is sure to be suc­cessful, she says. "There is a lot of money to be made in this business, and if you work in an area that has a discount salon on every street corner, the com­petition is tough," she says.

1995 was a big year for Nelson: "I thought, 'Where do I see myself 10 years from now?' When you get frustrated with your life you shouldn't be unhappy about it, but get excited and see   an opportunity to make changes.” So Nelson set goals about what she wanted to do, and says she has hit every one so far.

Nelson’s dedication to what she believes in is also evident in her personal life. In addition to home schooling her 16-year-old stepson, Nelson and her husband are foster parents. “There are plenty of kids out there who need help,” she says. I believe you need to give back to the community instead of always taking.”         


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