Cover Tech: Keeping a Competitive Edge

Winning nail competitions could get you noticed. How about being called to endorse nail products? Add to that starting your own product line! The sky's the limit for technician Kim Morgan.

Kim Morgan, a nail technician at The Hair Force in Winter Haven, Fla., admits that she never knew she had a competitive streak until she entered her first nail competition.<p>after four years of competing, Kim Morgan says competition is still her best teacher.</p> Morgan, the number-one competitor in NAILS Magazine’s Top 25 Competitors Ranking in 1993 and 1994, says, “The first competition nails I did I thought were gorgeous, until I realized how hideous they looked next to the nails done by the first-place winner. I had no idea that acrylic could look like that.”

Morgan, who has been competing for the past four years, says it took her a little over a year - and six competitions - before she won her first trophy. “Until that point, it was a guessing game for me as far as what the judges were looking for,” she says. After looking at her critique sheet, Morgan noticed that consistency of the smile line, a nice C-curve and arch, and a high shine are what judges look for most.

Even though she is a seasoned competitor, Morgan says she still learns something new with every competition. “Competition is my best teacher” she says, “and it keeps my job from being routine.”

Morgan says being named the top competitor in 1993 took her by surprise. “I had no idea I had made such an impact,” she says. By 1994, however, winning the title was her goal. “I thought that if I won the title two years in a row, I would be approached for manufacturer endorsements. And now that I have made a name for myself in the competition arena, nail manufacturers are calling me - a little girl from Polk County, Florida - to endorse their products.”

One of those calls was from Tweezerman, who asked her to represent the company on the Home Shopping Club TV show three times. “Competing has created a domino effect for my career,” she says.

In addition to competing, Morgan has an acrylic line called Luminations, which is an iridescent acrylic. Though a company manufactures and sells the product for her, Morgan owns the name. When she retires from doing nails in the salon, Morgan would like to own stock in a company that carries her own product line and perhaps be a partner. “This way, I’ll still have a piece of the industry as well as a steady income,” she says.

Before becoming a nail technician, Morgan designed floral arrangements, making just $5 an hour. “My nail technician back then kept on bragging about how much money she was making, so I quit my job and went to nail school full time.” After a year of doing nails, she went to work at her mother’s salon and has been there since. But having her mother as her landlord (Morgan is a booth renter) doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to pay her dues. “My mom is a tough businesswoman, and I’m charged rent and must pay on time just like everyone else,” says Morgan.

Being in the nail industry for 10 years, Morgan has seen a lot of “changes”.   “I think the biggest change is that manufacturers and other nail technicians are more conscious of the importance of education. It really shows in the quality of nails back then compared to today,” says Morgan. “There has also been a tremendous improvement in the acrylic itself as far as coloring and durability - nails look much more natural- because manufacturers are putting a lot more thought into product technology.”

When she’s not busy doing nails in tile salon and competing, Morgan enjoys spending time with her husband David, and their 4 1/2-year-old son, Tyler, and tending to her eight cats and two dogs. Even though she’s allergic to cats, she can’t resist adopting strays. Morgan says the suffering is worth it. To control her allergy, she gets weekly allergy shots as well as cortisone shots about four times a year. “We even had our carpeting removed and installed white-washed wooden floors because of the cat dander,” she says.

As an accomplished nail technician and competitor, Morgan has come a long way in the past 10 years, and says, “I come from a town known for retirees, not a bustling city like Los Angeles, which goes to show you that anyone from anywhere can be successful in this business.”


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