Bias and Bigotry Don’t Belong in Our Industry

A nail professional recently approached me with a concern she hoped I would voice. Fear of hateful and cruel retaliation made her want me to be the voice. As a compromise, I asked this nail professional to write a guest blog with a promise that I would keep her identity to myself. This blog is an important read for us all; change needs to be made. The industry is only as elevated as the lowest rung, and if we keep sawing the legs off the ladder, then no one will be able to climb it. -- Holly

To my fellow nail professionals,

I love this industry and am sincerely passionate about it. My heart hurts over the racism in our industry. I see a lot of bigotry on social media and there seems to be more and more, so I felt compelled to speak out.

It breaks my heart when I see posts going viral showing salons being torn up by clients because they were unhappy with their service, or when clients think they have the right to bully a nail technician who doesn’t look like them or speak like them. What hurts more is when I see the posts of techs supporting that behavior because the customer shouldn’t have been going there in the first place. Really?

I have seen videos where a customer was unhappy with her polish and proceeded to overturn the polish rack in the salon destroying the polishes and the floor of the salon. I’ve seen clients think there’s no value in the service they received and run out the door, jumping in their car and refusing to pay, almost running over the techs who tried to stop them.

In reverse, I’ve seen salons get into fights with customers (that’s wrong) who refuse to pay because they received multiple services, were unhappy with one, and didn’t want to pay for the other services (also wrong). I’ve seen people locked in salons (wrong) because they refused to pay and proceed to cuss out the technician (also wrong) only to video themselves doing it, then posting on social media in an effort to get viewers to choose up sides on the issue and yep, nail professionals are all too happy to weigh in on the debate.

All salons do not have these things happen in them, but yet on social media they are painted with a broad brush. I see the comments: “Chop-shops, you get what you pay for” or “wish they spoke English, she/he didn’t understand me so their work sucks” and on and on.

One of the most recent videos I saw showed a woman of color walking into a non-standard salon and handing out flyers for her salon telling the other patrons to come to her salon, support her business, and not “these people.” The employees at the salon just kept working with their heads down. It was being videoed and then was posted on social media. Does she have the right to promote her salon? Absolutely! Does she have the right to do it inside someone else’s salon? Absolutely not! She can promote all day long outside, but she was actually telling clients not to give these people their money inside their salon because they don’t respect you. Why didn’t the employees tell her to leave? I don’t know. I know it wouldn’t have been tolerated in my salon.

While I understand the human need for not feeling like you are being taken advantage of we must stop this. We cannot continue to divide this industry by them versus us (that’s all types of them and us, in case you’re wondering). There are enough clients in the world for all of us. Nail techs should be searched out by zip code not ethnicity. After that, look up their social media and see who you feel will be able to provide you with the services you want.

If there are salons in your area you feel are damaging the reputation of this industry, take a few hours out of your salon and try to get to know them. Introduce yourself, see what they do versus what you do. Don’t be judgmental. Show them your Instagram pictures and ask to see theirs. Try to form a partnership instead of a competition. They are not your competition; we all serve different markets. Do not solicit their clients because you think they should be giving you their business because of some post you saw on social media.

The world outside of nails is continually divided by race, gender, finances, religion, political affiliation, and more. As a Nail industry we need to stop the division and show a united front to get the respect we deserve. When we trash others in this industry, we are trashing ourselves. You may say to yourselves or others that you’re not like them, but when you think about it, everyone’s license says “nail technician” in some form or another, so it can paint all of us with the same brush.

I’ve thought often about all the things I hear and see, that are said about people in this industry, and it hurts my heart when I see such bias and bigotry. While I know there will be some who will continue to trash others in an effort to build themselves up, I hope a majority will see that we need to stop. Don’t promote racism in the nail industry.

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