Mind the Gap

Taking on a new nail tech in the salon has been quite the experience. For me, it’s a matter of choosing an employee over a booth renter. All the nitty-gritty little legal details have opened my eyes to why my grandfather would say we’ve become commies: the labor laws that are good, the ones that are bad, the hoops that employers are expected to jump through, and why so many truly small businesses never become bigger businesses.

My clients, however, are getting an eye-opening lesson in how this business works. And, of course, how their unconventional nail lady has chosen to do this unconventionally.

Non-booth-rent set-ups are virtually unheard of in my area. There are always those salon owners who agree to commission set ups to help out a new tech — but those almost always work the same as a booth rent set up. I’m not here to discuss whether that’s legal or not, or whether its legality is right or wrong, who it hurts or who it benefits — I’m simply pointing out that the people in my life are getting a whole lot of information they were unaware of previously.

One of the things that continuously comes up is Baby Bird’s speed — or lack thereof — at performing services.

Most of us are pretty slow when we start out, so it’s not a surprise — to me, at least. But when people ask me how it’s going with the new hire and I point out that I’m most concerned with increasing her speed, the conversation usually comes around to explaining how much we DO NOT get taught in our nail courses.

California’s manicuring course is currently 400 hours. It’s plenty of time. It isn’t utilized properly. It’s only been recently that beauty school regulations were changed to allow NAIL TECHS to teach NAIL TECHNOLOGY. Wow! What a concept, eh?

Previously, in order to be an instructor of any of the courses in beauty schools, you had to have a full cosmetology license. Which meant that most nail courses were being “taught” by retired hairstylists. This is actually still a big problem in far too many schools.

There also seems to be a total lack of state-specified curriculum in the courses. Oh sure, there’s the required hours and operations — but notrainingon how to competently execute those services.

And most of the services that make up our industry out here in the real world aren’t covered at all. My clients have been shocked and dismayed to hear that the manicuring course doesn’t teach backfills or pink-and-whites, and many schools don’t even teach sculptured nails. Nail art is not part of our licensing. All this bling and rockstar stuff isn’t covered. And no drill training.

Not to mention that neither state boards nor most schools concern themselves with how well new licensees are able to perform services.

So the vast — overwhelming — majority of new licensees entering the industry are a far cry from being ready to start working in it.

Licensing criteria aren’t concerned with ensuring competitive professionals, and there’s no motivation for our schools to go above and beyond in that area.

Meanwhile, the public is under the impression that that’s what school and licensing is all about.

We have gaps that need filled in a bad way.


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