Starting Your Career

Why a Professional Portfolio Matters (And How to Create One)

Nail tech Kimberly Martin impressed interviewers with a book that showed off her skill range. Now she uses it to show clients what she can do.

When Kimberly Martin went on salon job interviews, she found that having a physical portfolio book that showed a taste of her skill range was a huge selling point in a salon owner’s eyes. “Their first comment was how they loved the book. I’d get comments like, ‘It shows variety, creativity, and is very professional.’”

Martin has since been hired at Amanda's Trademark Salon & Spa in Norway, Maine, and now uses the book to show clients what she can do, especially in terms of her nail art offerings. She’s even upped the ante from a photo album to a printed and bound portfolio. “It's much easier than the original photo album.  I don't have to worry about printing off pictures and sorting them into dividers. Another downfall to the original photo album was, with all of the handling, photos would start to come loose from their pockets and even a couple pages came loose.” 

She created the portfolio book at a one-hour photo place and loves how it turned out. “It's personalized with a Marilyn Monroe quote to match the nail design on the front cover (design inspired by Robin Moses). I ended the book with ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’, my favorite Dr. Seuss quote to match a Dr. Seuss-inspired design.

“My clients always comment on the layout and love having access to all of my pictures.  I plan on making a separate holiday portfolio too,” Martin says. 

If you’re thinking of creating a portfolio to show potential employers, here are some items to consider including:

>  A nice photo of a full set of acrylic pink-and-whites. It’s one of the most basic services and most employers will appreciate your skills in this department.
> A shot of toes. If you’re proficient in gels, then include a photo of some nice gel toes, rockstar toes, or other decorative toenails.

>  If you have a creative side, include up to five photos of your nail art. Even if you don’t plan on selling nail art as a service, it still shows the potential employer you are passionate about nails.
> Photos of any other nail specialties (wraps, Minx nail coatings, party nails, etc.).
>  A copy of your license and any other accreditations or certificates you’ve earned (like completion of manufacturer courses, first-aid classes, or beauty school nail competition placements).

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