Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bring It On

Originally posted August 15, 2010

For over six years, I have been working part time (my choice); self-employed as a nail tech at a small, but upscale, salon in the SW area of Portland. Marcy was mom's nail tech, but was planning on leaving, so asked mom to have me come by to talk to her once I graduated. The weekend after I went to Salem and got my certifications, I did just that.

Marcy and Heidi were both there, and basically gave me tests similar to "practicals" we did in school -- an acrylic with tip, a sculpted acrylic, one hand manicure, and one foot pedicure. I guess I passed; we all shared the space (we each worked two days/week) for the remainder of their tenures. Heidi was newly pregnant, and Marcy was thinking about going back to school for a nursing degree.

By the end of the summer, Marcy had started nursing school, so turned her clients over to me. Then, by mid-November, Heidi had been placed on bed rest, so I took over for her, as well. Thank goodness because I was working for a "beauty supply" (one which sells to anyone, but gives discounts for professionals), and DID NOT like it AT ALL! My biggest complaint was that I was instructed to make stuff up if I didn't know the answer to a customer's question! Secondarily, the boss didn't like that I didn't want to work there forever... um, duh (especially at $8/hr)? I have a nail technology degree; of COURSE I'm going to want to use it!

Anyway, by Thanksgiving that year (2004), I was working 5-6 days a week, but still only part time hours. When I wasn't actively working in the salon, I was either out marketing or downstairs trying to drum up business from the hair clients. Within a year, I stopped actively marketing and I no longer hung out at the salon unless I had a client. By this point, I had enough clientele to meet my expenses, and then some.

Over the years, my rent has gone up a few times. To compensate, I've taken on a few more clients. Currently (not counting the time off I've been taking to babysit contractors), I work about 15-20 hours per week. This leaves me to spend a good amount of time with my family. I like it this way, and this works for our family dynamic.

Back in March, I started reading about a new product called Shellac. It's made by CND and is a gel/polish hybrid (goes on like polish, but cures under a UV lamp; your nails are completely dry at the end of your service). In April, I started talking to the managers of the two main supply stores where I shop; neither had heard of it yet, but took a handful of my business cards and promised to call as soon as they got it (as well as to hand them out to people looking for a nail tech in SW Portland - easy marketing).

Shellac was released May 5th. On May 6th, I got my calls, and went to both stores; picking up most of the collection of colors, two each of base & top coats, and a few other things I needed to start offering it to my clients. Little did I know it would take over the nail industry!

After release in a few other countries, CND discovered the product had so exceeded its greatest expectations, that there was now a hold on supply stores' ability to order (not just backordered; they actually couldn't order at all). CND then suspended release to more countries, and sent out a letter to their customers (visible on the website) stating that they were amping up production on current orders.

There's been a couple of updates since then (I've also gotten my salon listed, with me as a contact, as a Shellac salon), and, since I am on my last bottle each of the top & base, I am getting antsy. I have enough to cover my current Shellac clients for at least another month (they're coming in every two weeks), but won't take any new Shellac clients until I get more product. I'm already scheduling into September...

About a week ago, I decided to change my voicemail to reflect this new policy. I've also been reading industry-related blogs and any other information I can get my hands (well, fingers) on. In THAT process, I came across a blog of a woman by the name of Maggie. She is just a few years older than I am, but has been a nail tech for about 20 years. Reading her blog has inspired me to flex my creative muscles.

I started with layering different colors of Shellac on those willing to try (as well as Princess). I then tried a set of "Rockstar" toes (on myself -- "Rockstar" just means glitter added to either acrylic or gel) -- easy enough; just messy. Princess then asked me to do two different designs on her nails -- one hand with ladybugs (which I've done for years), and one with piggies (new, but simple enough).

All of that has led to this: I ordered some new products, and storage containers for the new product (S&P shakers from Tupperware work great for glitter), from EBay. I also bought a few things from my local supply store. My goal between now and the end of the year is to work on my hand-painted art (especially themed nails), "Rockstar" skills, and make my pink & whites better (I do fine with acrylic, but P&W gels take practice).

Once that is accomplished, I will update my brochure for the new year, adjust some of my pricing, and make postcard-sized pamphlets to hand out (our hair stylists also offered to put one in their mirrors, so their clients can see the new stuff I offer). I'm ready to take on more, younger, clients; I think they need me!

Oh, and I decided "nail tech" just doesn't say enough about what I do... My new title: "Nail Stylist".

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