Business Management

My Favorite Mistake

Sometimes the most painful mistakes you make, turn out to be experiences you learn the most from.

For nail professionals, NAILS asked what has been their “favorite mistake” — the one that taught them valuable lessons that continue to serve them and help them in their nail careers to this very day.



My biggest mistake (and lessoned learned) was when I had my first apprentice at my nail studio. She’s the sweetest girl, but she came with some major career handicaps.  First, she had absolutely no experience, which was fine because I was willing to train her from the ground up. Second, she had no car or any efficient mode of transportation. Third, she only wanted to be a nail technician because of coercing by her older sister, so she didn’t even want to do nails to begin with.

I had been in the industry for over a decade and had always been the nurturing type. And I’ve trained many people but had never had anyone work under me. So when I acquired my apprentice, I tried my hardest to make it work. Despite the fact that she carried good conversations, she could not perform a decent standard manicure.

I held her hand and led her through it, but after nearly eight months of teaching her, or to put it bluntly “coddling a baby,” I felt like I was ready to rip my hair out. What a mistake I had made having an apprentice. It was difficult for me to discipline her because of her kind nature. She would pout and it would break my heart. 

She couldn’t paint or do a simple French or any basic tasks, and on top of that, she was terrified of glitter. But when I realized she only came in whenever she pleased, was never punctual, and only worked once a month (Yes! Isn’t that crazy?), I reached my breaking point and fired her.  

The mistake of hiring her made me grow as a salon owner today. Now, I’m never afraid to voice my opinion (with much grace, of course). I did the poor girl a favor though. Nails were never her forté nor her passion. I believe now she does something with customer service and retail and is fantastic at it. And letting her go made me learn to stand my ground, something I feel every strong salon owner should be able to do.

Amy Oung

Harmony Nail Studio, Warwick, R.I.



My favorite mistake so far as a nail technician is only charging a flat rate for nails, which I currently do. I am well known for it, yet sometimes I regret it!

I never charge extra for nail art, extra glitters, Mylar, Fimo canes, decals, or anything. Some of my more intense designs, that in my opinion should probably cost well more than what I charge, only cost my clients $40 for a full set or $35 for a backfill.

I just feel like my clients are loyal and deserve something from me, so I strive to be a friendly, open minded, creative, and efficient nail tech.

Sometimes I feel as If I am “underpaid” but never under-appreciated. My clients always talk about how they love my nail art and can’t believe how affordable it is.

Alycia Barrett

Nail Candy, Redding, Calif.

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