If You Can't Join 'Em, Beat 'Em!

So sad that fellow nail artist Lynne Deatherage and I didn't start to get to know each other until after she made the move all the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas! Before she relocated her life and career more than halfway across the country, she was practically right next door to me in Clovis, Calif.

But she did move, and has had quite the nightmare of getting re-established in a new state, a new community, and a new culture. When she arrived in her new hometown full of ideas for rebuilding her clientele, she was met with an unfamiliar attitude from fellow professionals in the area.

First she had trouble even finding a salon to work in. The overwhelming belief was that acrylics were a bad idea at any rate, and the fact that Lynne uses an electric file apparently about had her run out of town. Someone suggested that she should go work at a local discount salon if she was going to ruin people’s nails with acrylic anyway.

When she found a salon to work in, she encountered more problems with coworkers who continued to look down on the new girl in town. No one wanted to network with her, no one wanted to be friends, no one cared about her past career or wanted to learn from her or share what they knew. And no one had ever heard of "rock star nails."

So Lynne put on her proverbial big-girl panties and sucked it up — and rocked out her nails California style: with all the bling they could hold. And lo and behold if suddenly the world — or, at least, Fort Smith, Arkansas — didn't beat a path to her door.

Since finding the magic button to getting her business going in the new town, Lynne has found herself a new salon to work in, one with a "normal" owner who supports her and the way she does business. While the other techs in town — the ones who told her she was doing it all wrong because she did acrylic and used an e-file? — have suddenly started clambering over themselves trying to tap into the popularity of rock star nails, the newest game in town.

And here's where I really just want to bang my head against a brick wall when I hear Lynne's tales. First of all, remember, these other techs already made it clear that they do not want to be friends with Lynne. They don't approve of the way she does things and they've gone to great lengths to alienate her and make her feel unwelcome in the local nail industry community. And when it turns out they're wrong, and their clients really do want what Lynne's bringing to the game? They still can't make nice and be professional and try to network. They send in a spy, then go out and buy a bunch of glitter and start offering knock-off nails.

Except, remember, these are people who weren't even OK with acrylics. So, now everyone in town is doing rock stars. Except most of them are undertrained in the technique; services are breaking down, nails are popping off, and word is getting around that rock star nails don't last.

Lynne put her thinking cap on and did some research. And it turned out that the term "Rockstar Nails" was available for trademark.

That's right. Trademark. So Lynne registered "Rockstar Nails" as a trademark in the state of Arkansas. Now she can legally request anyone in the state offering "Rockstar Nails" to cease and desist all use of the name.

No. She can't prevent other nail techs from practicing the technique. And no. She isn't trying to claim that she "invented" rock star nails. But she will be able to protect her professional reputation and her business by forcing lesser trained techs from sullying the good name of "Rockstar Nails" around town.

Funny thing is, Lynne has been sharing her challenge with the professional community via Facebook and professional networking forums, and I was befuddled to find how many people gave her grief about her recent trademark triumph.

I'm already running a little long with my musings here, so I'll spare you what could constitute an entirely separate rant about trademarking in the industry ... I really wanted to point out how saddened I am to hear this whole story. This entire town could have banded together and had a big networking event; they could have embraced their new colleague and they could have benefitted from her knowledge and experience.

I'm used to being part of the industry that believes that there's room for all of us, there are enough clients to go around, and sharing your skills and knowledge is a good thing. So Lynne's battle with her new local colleagues leaves me shaking my head and wanting to yell.

You can't protect your business by lying to your clients. They're going to find out about gels, acrylics, rock stars — you name it. And you can't get away with telling them that those other services that you don't offer are "bad" for very long. And when you lose clients to another tech who offers those services you didn't want to learn? Don't blame the other tech for your short-sightedness. That's just lame. It's immature and unprofessional, and it lowers the entire industry.

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