Business Management

Lemonade and Happy Endings

You’ve all heard the expression, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well we asked techs to tell us about a time they did this. Six techs talk about how they were faced with a negative situation and managed to turn things into a positive.

I had that experience just today. A client had cancelled a previous appointment for gel-polish because she was packing to move and had wrecked all her nails. She was going to let them get all ruined, but when she came to get her hair done today I explained to her that keeping gel-polish on her nails and coming more often (every two weeks instead of three) would keep her nails protected. She agreed and booked two more appointments.

Kathy Lynn Payne

Off Broadway Salon, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada


I was working in a psychiatric hospital doing shift work for 19 years. I was getting so burnt out from it and one day I mentioned to a coworker that I needed a change. She asked me what I was interested in and after pondering it for a while I said I would like to do nails. She encouraged me to look into it and now eight years later I am still loving every minute of being a nail tech — and my ex-coworker is one of my favorite clients!

Melissa Fox

Via Facebook


I remember when I was organizing the first Nail Tech Networking Event of the Smokies. I made the mistake of renting a meeting room at a hotel based solely on the website’s description and one photo. We got to town the day before the event (another mistake not arriving sooner), but could not access the meeting room to set up until after 10 p.m. that night.

When we finally saw it, we knew I’d made a drastic mistake! Not only was it not nearly large enough, but the decor was heinously outdated. Needless to say, I hardly slept at all. The next morning I was standing at the hotel’s front door by 7 a.m. when the manager came to work. 

Remembering a chapter from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I took full blame and threw myself on her mercy. I told her I was so sorry, but the room was too small and we were never going to fit in there. I laid out the scenario of how it would have to be. We’d need to prop open the door so educators’ tables could be set up on the sidewalk, along with the many trailing extension cords, and hopefully no one would trip. Then I asked if their larger event center was available, and as luck would have it, it was. However I did not have the $500 to pay for it! 

My proposal to her: I pulled out every bit of cash I had (less than $200) and asked if she’d consider renting it to us for that, plus the $150 I’d already paid for the smaller meeting room. I explained that if this first event was a fiasco, then there wouldn’t be another one. But if this one was a success, then we’d book our next one at their hotel too. She got the owner’s approval over the phone and there we were hauling supplies from one building to another with the maintenance men setting up tables an hour before educators and attendees arrived. We held three events at their hotel until we finally outgrew it and the rest is history.

Jill Wright

Jill’s — A Place for Nails, Bowling Green, Ky.

About two-and-a-half years ago I rented a booth in a little 10’ x 10’ room. I thought it would be perfect being that there were seven or more other hairstylists also renting booths. It turned out to be very difficult to build my clientele with no walk-ins and no one calling. Finally my client base started to grow but the types of services requested weren’t going to work in the little space I had. And the owner of the salon turned out to be a little nuts. So in a desperate attempt to get out of the little space to a location where I could expand, I found a nice little spot in a not-so-conventional location — a warehouse. Hey, we all have to start somewhere right? So the space was just under 1,000 square feet with approximately 500 of that already set up for an office or other business. The rest was warehouse space. Within a month I was opened up. Someone took over my lease to the little 10’ x 10’ room and I was able to move on out and expand.

Once I was in this warehouse I found it difficult to find quality nail techs who actually weren’t afraid to work a little and who were actually willing to put in the hours and pay their dues to build up clientele. And, people were having a hard time finding me. Who looks for a salon in a warehouse? I toughed it out for two years in the warehouse and grew as much as the location and space would allow. Fortunately, a space opened up right across the street, so I partnered with a hairstylist friend and we opened up there together.

This move cost way more than I anticipated, but it comes with much more potential than the other two locations. We now have a massage therapist and have room to add another one plus an esthetician. The place looks fabulous and business has been booming. We just moved into the new location in June 2012.

I think the lesson to be learned here is to be patient, make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in, and work hard toward a goal to improvement.

Melodie Hand

Tickled Pink Salon, Clayton, N. C.


I remember the time I foolishly decided to leave my comfy booth-rental situation at my first salon job to work for a crazy lady as an employee. Despite several conversations about what I expected from an employer and how I operated as a professional, that salon owner still insisted that she was delighted to have me join the team.

 She promised me I’d be the only nail tech at the salon and that she wouldn’t hire another nail tech until I had built up to the point that I wanted help. Two weeks later I was sharing my room with another nail tech.

Then all those clients I had worked hard to build up in the two years before I moved to this salon dropped off the face of the earth and the new salon wasn’t bringing in new clientele for me.

 About six weeks into my sentence, the owner informed me that she was going to change the product I was working with. As an employer, she supplied my product, but since I was her first nail tech, she had been all about getting me what I wanted to use when I signed up.

 The product she wanted to switch to was popular with some of the bigger salons in the area, but it was also a product that I had specifically discussed with her during our interview process — one that contained MMA.

 So I told her no, we were not going to use that.

 Suddenly I was “insubordinate” and how dare I talk back to the person who signs my paychecks — and seriously, I spent two more weeks at that salon experiencing the most real life Jekyll and Hyde personality I have ever encountered.

 I couldn’t go back to where I had been booth renting because they had filled my spot, and seriously, everybody in town used that MMA product. I was stuck between a rock and my integrity.

 But because of that, I spent several days rolling spare change donated by Mom and Grandma, and after much aggravating time spent on the phone with property managers, I opened my first studio salon.   

Maggie Franklin

The Art of Nailz, Visalia, Calif.


  <p>Jamie Pyles (right) came to the rescue when salon owner Athena Elliott made a Groupon offer she couldn&rsquo;t fulfill.</p>

I ran a Groupon offer for an experienced nail tech who came in as a new booth renter. She was relocating and starting over. We decided that Groupon would be the best way to get people in her chair. My mistake was putting it in my name. She quit right before it went live. Six hundred Shellac manicures in 36 hours was overwhelming to say the least. My clientele is too large to accommodate this many new customers so I put out a professional post on Facebook asking techs for help.

I was flooded with replies of support. Techs as far away as Minnesota, Florida, and Oklahoma reached out offering to work for free in exchange for any training I could give them. I was blown away.

Jamie Pyles was in manicuring school in Oklahoma and wrote to me about her passion for her new career path, having already taught herself how to apply Shellac. Next thing I knew, 500 miles and nine hours later Jamie was sitting in my salon working on her first client. With shaky hands, she went right to work. The clients were so impressed they tipped her graciously for her fresh ideas and eagerness to learn. In four days, Jamie knocked out over 20 Shellac manicures, two pedicures with Light Elegance glitter gel, and a set of Minx. More impressive, 90% of these clients came back very pleased needing a soak-off. This Groupon taught me a lot of lessons, but Jamie made me so proud of the new breed of nail techs who are entering our industry and finding support in social networking.

Athena Elliott

SPAthena, Houston

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