Founded in 1983 by Peter Grimes and John Cipriano, NAILS was a response to a burgeoning new market of nail salons popping up in Southern California. The first issue of NAILS (February 1983) was distributed at the Long Beach Hairdressers Guild Show (as it was called then) to about 5,000 nail techs. Business grew quickly. At the time there were no other trade magazines, although there was a newspaper called Mainly Manicuring, which folded a few years later.
Original advertisers in NAILS included Alpha 9, when it was owned by the Sperling family; No Lift Nails, which had an acrylic line and really was the first company to bring out primer for acrylics and is still today the main source of primer; Nutress, which had Wet Look top coat; Kayline, a furniture manufacturer.
An interesting article in the first issue featured a salon owner who wanted to list her salon under Beauty Salon but was forced her to list them under “artificial fingernails” or “manicuring.” Ultimately, the nail category grew enough to justify its own section. The first editor’s note referred to nail technicians as “manicurists” and it was several years before the word nail technician became commonly used (around 1988).
The two partners handled most of the sales and editorial chores until finally hiring an editor, Heidi Fron, and salesperson, Suzi Asato (Robinson).
Bobit Publishing (now called Bobit Business Media) bought the magazine in 1988, after the original partners split, not agreeably. The first published by Bobit was January 1989. Jay Garbutt was named publisher, Fron stayed on for a few months, then Anna Morgan took over as editor. Suzette Hill joined the magazine in 1989, and Cyndy Drummey joined the magazine in 1990.
NAILS launched a short-lived tabloid newspaper in 1990 called Nail Tech News.
Cyndy Drummey was named publisher in 1994, and Michelle Mullen, who joined the magazine as western sales rep in 1999, was promoted to publisher in 2013. Hannah Lee joined the magazine in 1999 and is still editor today.
NAILS started a nail technician association in the mid-1990s called Nail Industry Association (NIA), which purchased the NNTG association (originally a New York based association that formed to get nail licensing in New York in the early 1990s). NIA folded in 1996.
NAILS launched an international edition in 1992 and suspended it in 1996; launched its first Vietnamese edition in 1996, suspended in 1998, launched VietSALON in 2006, which is still published today.
In 1992, NAILS launched its annual Career Handbook for nail care students and new technicians.
NAILS Magazine Who’s Who Awards (1989-1991).
NAILS wins first Maggie Awards for Best Special Interest Trade Magazine in 1993.
NAILS wins Maggie Award for most improved publication in 1997.
NAILS wins Maggie Gold Award for Overall Best Trade Publication in 2008.
Beloved sales representative Helen Vanegas dies in 2002.