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John Hauk Surprises A Fan

Veteran tech John Hauk drops in on student blogger Starr Rooks after hearing that meeting him was one of her professional goals.

<p>The Royalty Beauty team of Candy Legg, John Hauk, and Nicole Brown flank Starr Rooks (second from right) during their surprise visit.</p>

At NAILS Magazine, we pride ourselves on bringing you the latest industry stories, but every once in a while we get to be part of the story ourselves. Such was the case back in May of this year, when we were working on a story called “What’s on Your Bucket List?” One of the respondents was a nail student by the name of Starr Rooks, who wrote, “I just wanted to submit my nail tech bucket list items. I’m currently a student and I’m not sure if I could participate, but if so then here they are.” We were of course thrilled to hear from a student who already had so many goals in mind, so we followed-up on her list to flush out the article.

The first thing on her list: “Meet John Hauk.” Hauk, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is a world champion nail competitor, global educator, and celebrity manicurist based in Centerville, Ohio. He’s been featured in NAILS many times over the course of the past two decades, but we contacted him to update his headshot (and to pass along the sweet message that a nail student looks up to him so much as to put him on her bucket list). He was so touched by this that he wanted to do something more for Rooks than simply update his headshot for the article. And that’s where this story begins.

<p>John demoed a variety of nail styles on Starr, as her classmates take photos and videos to capture the experience.</p>

John’s Story

It all started when NAILS Magazine contacted me to update my headshot. One of the editors told me the magazine was working on an article on nail techs who have made bucket lists and that I was number one on Starr Rooks’ list. I was so touched that someone would not only think of me but would put me on their list as number one! I quickly began brainstorming what to do to make a project out of this, make the most of this for Starr, and give back to the nail industry. I called my good friend Jim McConnell at Light Elegance and shared my thoughts; he graciously donated all kinds of products to my project.

After doing some sleuthing, I found out Starr lives in Charlotte, N.C., and is in beauty school. I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to visit her at school and give a personal one-on-one class?” So I made arrangements with her instructor Pasty Worley at Academy of Nails and Esthetics to make a visit. On Thursday, June 21, my Royalty Beauty Team — Royalty Beauty is a company I founded in January to organize events such as Cruise with the Nail Stars — of Nicole Brown, Candy Legg, and I packed up the car and drove 500 miles southeast, all the way from Cincinnati to Charlotte to give the school a surprise visit the next morning.

I wasn’t sure what to expect or how we would be received, but once we were inside the school I was thrilled to see there were about 30 students and staff members awaiting our arrival, all with cameras. Her fellow students had gotten her to stay in the back of the school, so we could get ready to surprise her. They then called Starr up front to “do a ­manicure on a client,” or so she thought.

When she came out we were waiting for her with flowers, balloons, and gifts. Everyone yelled “Surprise!” Starr put her hands over her mouth. She just stood there shocked for a minute. I walked up to her and gave her a hug, and I started to explain why we were there. I told her how NAILS Magazine had gotten a hold of me to share the bucket list article and that I was touched, so I want to do something very special and help her along in her career of doing nails.

After presenting all the goodies we had brought to her we settled down and demoed some nails for her. I asked her if it would be OK to use her as a model, and she said yes. I demoed an acrylic tip and overlay, acrylic sculptured, and gel tip and overlay, but what stole the show was the gel stiletto and gel art that Nicole and I did. I know those nails left an impression on Starr and the other students. We answered many questions about nails, clients, competition, and products, all while giving advice on how to get started in the nail industry and working in the salon.

I hadn’t really planned this part out ahead of time, but while at the school, I felt compelled to pay off the balance on Starr’s tuition. I had heard that life had thrown a bunch of road blocks in her way, so much so that she had almost not been able to start beauty school. So several hours later after we were done demoing all kinds of nails and techniques, I, on behalf of Royalty Beauty, presented Starr with a receipt that her school tuition was paid in full. She began to cry. Everyone around her started to get emotional too, and they formed a group hug and told her she deserved this, as Starr is such a generous and gracious person. She thanked me as she accepted the gift.

After Candy, Nicole, and I said our goodbyes to all the new friends we had made, we began sharing with each other how successful and fulfilling the visit was. We wish Starr all the best and much success!   

<p>Starr is rendered momentarily speechless when John presents her with her beauty school tuition paid in full.</p>

Starr’s Story

I’m still floating on cloud nine, so before I begin rambling let me just start at the beginning.

I’m a quiet person; some might even call me shy. I knew I would have to work on that in order to pursue my dream. It is definitely a work in progress. A few months ago I saw a NAILS Magazine posting on Facebook regarding professional bucket lists. So I wrote one out and didn’t send it. A few days later I conquered my nerves and submitted it. Let me tell you I am so glad I did.

To my surprise NAILS managing editor Sree Roy e-mailed me and told me there was a possibility I would be in the magazine. At this point, I’m excited and glad that I got over my nerves.

The number-one thing on my bucket list was to meet John Hauk. He creates the most beautiful, amazing, and flawless nails. If you have ever seen his pink-and-whites then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Seeing his work definitely gives me something to aspire to.

One day in early June my instructor tells the class that we’re having a guest speaker and some 3-D nail art demos on Friday, June 22, so she wants to make sure everyone will be in class. 3-D nail art? Count me in. While waiting for the guest speaker to arrive, I was told a client had requested me to do her manicure. As I turned the corner to greet my client, guess who was there?


I could not believe it. John Hauk was there — at my school. I was totally speechless. I just can’t put into words how awesome that was. John also brought the amazing Nicole Brown and Candy Legg with him. Talk about some talented ladies. Wow!

When I wrote the bucket list, I had just assumed that I would be at a nail show one day and meet John, take a photo with him, and that would be it. I never imagined that they would drive out of their way to Charlotte en route to the Nail Tech Networking Event of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tenn. I was just so honored that he made the trip to meet me.

Not only did John stop by the school, but he also brought me some amazing goodies! There were beautiful flowers, star-shaped balloons, and a ton of Light Elegance products. I had reached the height of my excitement and went into shock. Then he did demos of pink-and-whites, tips with overlay, and gel and stiletto nails. Nicole also did a demo of a sculpted gel with color gel marbling that was so beautiful.

I’m so glad my classmates and I got to learn new techniques and watch John in person. That was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I simply cannot thank John Hauk, Nicole Brown, Candy Legg, NAILS Magazine’s Hannah Lee and Sree Roy, Light Elegance, and the Academy of Nails and Esthetics enough for this amazing opportunity.

I’m so glad that I finally mustered up the courage to pursue my dream to become a nail technician. I have already met some wonderful people and I can’t wait to really get out there and meet more wonderful people and make more amazing friends.

Related Blog:

NAILS 101: A Student Blog [Read more about Starr's journey here]

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