Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Goals

I am not a "resolutions" person... I set goals. Sometimes they are accomplished, sometimes they aren't. Last year's list can be seen here; seems I've done all but number four (and instead of "a fresh coat of blue paint", my room got a full redo!).

This year's list:
1. Finish putting my room back together -- mostly I need to put my certificates, etc back up on the walls, put up my new polish racks, and put my new pedi chair together.
2. Find some kind of shelf to hold a small amount of retail items (in such a tiny room, there's just no way I can carry a large amount, but I want to sell oil, lotion, top & base coats, files, etc; small every day stuff that almost everyone could use).
3. Keep up on my Quicken ("balancing my checkbook"). This goes for my personal stuff, too... I'll go months without doing it, then cram to get it done.
4. Hit another nail event.
5. As always, take on more clients. I'm not going to put a number on it like I did last New Year's, but I will say this: Increasing your available hours slowly is the best way to build quality clientelle. Every school year, I update my hours based on my daughter's school & activity calendar. My eventual goal is to work 30-40 hours by the time she's in high school.

Interestingly, I can't think of any other goals I want to set this year. So, I will leave you with this: Going into my ninth year as a professional nail tech, I know I've come a long way. However, I will continue in my pursuit of more education & refining my skills... for as an artist, I am ALWAYS growing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santamas Came Early...

In case you haven't been paying attention to my posts on my business page, I recently revamped my print materials (product cards to go in with my gift certificates, completely redone brochures, and business cards with a slight change in contact info). I also opened a business checking account (to separate my personal stuff from my business even more than it is, and so I would feel more comfortable with using the SQUARE credit card device), & cleaned out my nail art supply kit. As I put everything away, I took stock of what I have, and what I want.

Have --
1. Vials of regular glitter.
2. Vials of irridescent glitter.
3. Miscellaneous tiny vials of chunky glitter.
4. Tubes of acrylic craft paints.
5. Ten paint pens.
6. A paint palette that holds 10 colors.
7. A baggie of paintbrushes.
8. A five pack of dotting tools.
9. A plastic case with 25 empty mini vials.
10. A book of easy nail art tutorials.
11. Glitter paints.
12. Many miscellaneous nail stickers & water decals.
13. A piece of mesh with a random pattern.
14. A tiny baggie of transfer/crafting foils.
15. Miscellaneous samples of pigment powders (plain & irridescent).
16. Small vials of colored acrylic powder.

So, I made a list, and went shopping. For the record, there is no "Hobby Lobby" nor any "Craft Warehouse" anywhere near me... I am limited to JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts and Michael's. I also will order stuff online, but only if I know they are a trustworthy site and have good stuff.

I ended up ordering:
1. 125 ft of 1" transfer/crafting foil (25 vials which each hold 1" X 5').

And, I ended up buying in-store:
1. A 12pk of ultra-fine neon glitter (almost as fine as pigment powder, but not quite).
2. Two size 18/0 paintbrushes (for detail work, like snowflakes).
3. A smaller palette (will hold six colors).
4. A 12pk of shimmery pigment powders.
5. A new piece of mesh with a diamond pattern.

Then, today, I spent an hour custom-blending pigments, and filling up all my empty tiny vials with pigments & glitters. A friend of mine is sending me a larger, heavier-duty piece of diamond-shaped mesh (so I'll have three choices for patterns), and another friend of mine is sending me some holiday-themed decals (I was running low).

I added a crafting rolling cart to my Amazon wish list (my current plastic kit is just to small now), and am very much looking forward to blinging up some nails!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


... via Nails Magazine, online.

First, here's the online article from August's issue (also in hard copy):

Second, here's the update (online only) after Sree contacted me to ask about inspiration for my makeover for an upcoming article:

I will post photos on my Facebook page when I finally get everything back up/organized BUSINESS PAGE.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Losing & Gaining Clients

I don't play the "it's the economy" card... but for some of my clients, it really is. I lost two clients this week simply because they couldn't afford to get their nails done right now. I get it; it's the holidays and people are using their measly paychecks for things like gifts for their families and property taxes (thankfully, WE can afford to pay ours in one chunk; not everyone is so lucky).

On the other hand, I have two newbies coming in within the next week. Both have been sent to me by other nail techs. One has moved from Iowa (the infamous -- at least in my nail world -- Holly Schippers', aka: FINGERNAILFIXER, client), and the other is from southern Oregon. Both are relocating to Portland, and both are devout CND Shellac users.

I love all my gel polishes (adding more to my collection every month), and the majority of my clients are gel polish clients. However, I am an artist, and CND Shellac is the best medium for nail art of the gel polishes I've tried... so I nudge my clients to step outside their "one color" (even if it changes every appointment) mantra, and try something more.

I offer layering, engraving, glitter (a little or a lot), nail apps, hand-painted artwork, pigments, transfer/crafting foils, and so much more. Art isn't JUST painting a flower... it's creating a look customized for you, for the season, to match an outfit or an accessory, or to be an accessory all on its own.

I am sad to see the two lost clients go (& truly hope they come back as finances allow), but am thankful that the ones filling their spots. These two want me to push my artistic boundaries... and I am really looking forward to it!

Note to my current & future clients -- Feel free to "Follow" me on Pinterest: nailartistry04. I repin designs I want to try, as well as nails I've actually done (among other things like yummy food and funny sayings).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Love Experimenting!

You all should know that about me by now, right?

Ok, here are my two most recent experiments -- (1) Which gel polish base & top coat (if any) will work with ibd's Just Gel gel polish? (2) Will OPI's Nail Apps work over gel enhancements?

(1) GelColor, by OPI, is the winner... but not by much. I had two ladies (Jessica and Nicole) who let me do my thing. On Jessica -- right hand was Gelish top & base, left hand was Shellac top & base, with Just Gel in "Tickled Pink". On Nicole -- right hand GelColor top & base, left hand Gelish, with Just Gel in "Turtle Bay". Now, I was hoping these would be full-coverage in two coats, but they're not. Both of these colors (and, I assume, the third one I bought -- "Solar Rays") need three coats for full coverage. BUT, those three bottles cost me the same as one bottle of GelColor, so it was worth it for this experiment.

Jessica had one Shellac'd nail (pinky) peel off at 12 days, but she admitted to not using her Solar Oil (bad girl!!). All nine other nails looked perfect, but for grow-out. The Shellac'd hand looked shinier at her two-week appt. Just as I properly prepped according to which base & top coat I used, I also soaked off properly. Shellac'd nails got CND Shellac Remover & CND wraps. Gelish got OPI's "Expert Touch" because I like it better than pure acetone.

Nicole had one Gelish nail (thumb) chip at the tip at 9 days, however she *did* use her Solar Oil. All nine other nails looked perfect, but for grow-out. The GelColor'd hand looked shinier at her two-week removal appt. Just as I properly prepped according to which base & top coat I used, I also soaked off properly. Both sets here got OPI's "Expert Touch" remover & OPI wraps.

As predicted from past use -- Shellac came off in 8 minutes (CND says 10m, but if your hands are warm, it comes off faster), GelColor came off in 12m (again, warm hands), and Gelish came off in 17m.

The reason behind this experiment is because (a) I've had bad experience with ibd in the past. Their previous gel polish, Gelac, was crap. It cured in the bottle, and I lost a ton of money when they wouldn't allow returns... and (b) I didn't want to invest in a new system, so was hoping that at least one, if not all, of these tops/bases would be compatible. Since they are, if I can't find certain colors I want in the three lines I currently carry, I'd be okay buying it in this line.

(2) Stay tuned to find out; I just did this on a client today. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm A Mad Scientist - Part Two

Experiment Two -- Can I make a regular polish into a soak-off?

Answer -- YES!

Details -- Shannon wanted me to apply one of the new Minnie Mouse polishes over her gel polish, but she wanted to make sure it would last through her trip to Disneyland (which started a week after her appt, and was 3-4 days long). I had some initial concerns, but then remembered that someone told me that back when Shellac was having a major shortage on some of their colors, they used Shellac base & top with a regular CND polish... and it worked. So, what I ended up doing was this: I used OPI GelColor's base coat, then two layers of GelColor "Black Onyx", then sealed with Axxium's (both OPI UV systems can successfully be used together) Soak Off Gel Sealer (this one is NOT acetone-permeable). I did not wipe off the dispersion layer (although, I probably could have...?), and just applied "Nothin’ Mousie ’bout It" directly over it. I then applied GelColor's top coat, wiped the dispersion layer, oiled her cuticles, and sent her on her way. She was scheduled for a pedi three days later (still before her trip) so that if there was a problem, I could fix it without ruining the black underneath (which is why I used the Sealer over the black).

Why It Worked -- Soak off gel colors are made with microscopic holes (like little tunnels) so that the acetone in any remover will be able to soak through; making it lift off the nail plate easily (but some of the top coats aren't, which is why instructions for some of them say to scuff the top coat before wrapping). Shellac and GelColor both have these "tunnels", so layering either of these base & top (make sure you're using the base & top coats from ONE brand; do not use Shellac for one and GelColor for the other) with a basic polish still allows for the polish's solvents to completely disperse (which takes 24hours!!). If you attempted this process with a full sealer (like CND's UV Gloss, Axxium's Soak Off Gel Sealer, etc), your polish would peel off with in a day or two.

Future Use -- Over any type of nail; natural or enhancement.

For the record -- if applying Shellac, specifically, over Brisa gel, you MUST use their UV Gloss instead of their Base Coat. Within this system, the base coat is formulated to bond to the keratin in your natural nail, and therefore won't adhere properly to your enhancement. All other systems I use (GelColor, Axxium, and Gelish), you can apply the system's base coat directly over the shaped gel.

End Result:

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm A Mad Scientist -- Part One

Experiment One -- Can I make glitter gel soak off?

Answer -- No.

Details -- Light Elegance Glitter Gels are meant to file off. In my quest to not damage anyone's natural nails, I decided that the one I had (got it in a SWAG BAG from the Willamette Valley Nail Event last April) needed to be applied over enhancements (gels, acrylic, etc). Then, I started to think, "I wonder if I layered it with soak off base & top coat, if it would actually soak off?" I had my friend, Jessica, come to the salon to test out my theory. I prepped, as if I was doing a regular gel polish manicure, then applied OPI's GelColor base coat, and cured as directed. I applied LE's Glitter Gel in "Peacock" (the only one I currently own) -- two layers, curing in between. I applied GelColor's top coat, and cured as directed. I wiped the dispersion layer, applied cuticle oil, reminded her of home care (she has Solar Oil at home), and sent her on her way. Fast forward to 15 days later. Grow-out was crazy (she looked like she had grown out about THREE weeks), and she had lost a couple of them... admitting to not using her cuticle oil as directed. :( I wrapped her in OPI's Remover Wraps, let them sit for 15m, then twisted & pulled, as I'm supposed to... nothing happened. GelColor, Shellac, and Gelish (the three polish versions I use of UV-cured color) all remove easily this way (Shellac is 10m or less), so I knew then that my experiment didn't work. I ended up gently filing the glitter gel off of the remainder of her nails, buffing them smooth, and applying cuticle oil to all ten nails. She was disappointed my experiment didn't work, but happy her nails were still in great condition (as they should be when a PROFESSIONAL nail tech - one who takes her job seriously - removes any product from your nails) and that she got almost two weeks of wear with a beautiful, glittery teal!

Why It Didn't Work -- All soak off gel colors are made with microscopic holes (like little tunnels) so that the acetone in any remover will be able to soak through; making it lift off the nail plate easily. LE's Glitter Gels do not have these "tunnels".

Future Use -- Over any enhancement or a full-coverage (glue-on) nail (like Prescriptions) used for a temporary "party" nail.

End Result --


Friday, September 14, 2012

Never Enough Time

As many of you know, I revamped my work space over the summer. I was basically shut down for six days. But, apparently, that wasn't enough. While I *did* put my room back to working order, I don't have anything up on the walls except my coat rack, menu, state certifications, and the new polish rack (which doesn't even have regular polish on it; it's holding my gel polishes right now).

I had a "super irritated" moment last week when I just decided that, since I need Ace's help to get more of the stuff up (class certifications, a mirror, two gel polish racks, etc), and we're focused on the bathroom remodel at home, I just would give up the idea of doing anything in my studio other that work until the bathroom is done.

The sense of relief I felt after that decision made me realize that I was honestly stressing out a little... simply because my project wasn't done! It's like I had to give myself permission to take a break, so I could focus on something else.

If you haven't looked at the last few pics (so far) of the album on my FB page, here's a couple shots of my (empty walls) studio.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Policy Vs Fairness

ALL professionals within the service industry should have a cancellation policy. Most that do ask for a minimum of 24hrs notice, so that your spot has some hope of being filled if you cannot be there (almost all professionals within the service industry have at least a small handful of clients hoping to swoop up that cancellation, with enough notice). If you do not give 24hrs notice, the usual policy is to charge you a portion of, or all of, the fee of your regular service, to be paid before the next service. In my chair, this is the policy.

All my clients know this, have been told this, and are rarely (some, never) late (no one more than 10m; and that's usually due to traffic). There are variations of harshness included in this policy. Some service professionals I know also require prepayment of all services from that point on, to make sure the client doesn't "forget" again. I have yet to do this.

I also have an emergency policy. If it is a TRUE emergency (car accident, death, etc), you get a "pass". I also let my clients have a one-time late/missed appt "pass", with a reminder for next time. But, if you just "forget", especially if it becomes a habit, I will enforce this. I haven't had to give more than a warning to anyone in the 8 1/2 years I've been doing business.

Then, though, there's this problem: what if your client, who's never forgotten before, forgets? Then, when you call & text, doesn't answer. You start to worry because she's in her 70's, that's what happens...

Sure, I *could* charge her... but I think I'll just remind her of my policy this time. One reason is the fact that she was one of my first clients, and I'm not sure I actually ever told her my policy. Another is that I had to be at my studio anyway; I had another client after her that couldn't move her time, and I had a friend of mine meeting me to pick up some things.

So, my plan is: when I put my certificates, calendar, licenses, etc back up on my wall, to make sure front & center (visually) are a short list of rules (including everyone washing their hands -- still get some flack about this one -- and my cancellation policy). I will also make sure those rules are included on my brochure, and will inform all new clients when they make their first appt with me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Decision Made

Long, drawn-out, too many emails back-n-forth, story short -- BR-client and I are taking a break; both on a professional level, and on a personal level.

For the record, I don't regret what I've said or how I've said it. It is what it is, and I am who I am. You don't have to like it (or me), but as I've said before, I will not tolerate ANYONE being unprofessional, or being treated in an unprofessional manner within professional spaces.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


After 8 1/2 years in the business, at the same salon ('cuz I love it there), I was fired. Now, before you get your undies in a bunch, let me explain. A certain biologically-related client of mine is good friends with a couple of my other clients. BR-client has been friends with N for over 10 years, and L for about 4 years. Both of those ladies have been coming to me for less than two years. BR-client and I had what some refer to as a "come to Jesus" talk (although, honestly, it had nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with personal & professional boundaries), away from my salon. I *thought* we finished this discussion on the same page...

I was wrong. The following day, BR-client & L went to a specialty camp on the coast. When BR-client & L got back, I got a phone call from L. She told me that she needed to cancel her appt (which was scheduled two days after that day), and her other two we had on the books. I asked about rescheduling and she said, "No. I need to find another nail tech. I value kindness above all, and I feel you weren't kind to" BR-client. This threw me completely for a loop; I've never been fired like that before. I don't know about you, but I value HONESTY above all, & I was nothing but honest with BR-client in The Talk.

While I'm irritated that I lost a client due to nothing regarding my professional life, I'm more irritated that BR-client's ranting about my "mistreatment" of her (playing the victim as she has for as long as I can remember) was the reasoning. So, now, I take another difficult step. I must tell BR-client (although I'm positive she already is aware) that L fired me, and that her personal feelings toward me, when *I* thought we were fine, have now affected my professional life. I came close to telling her that I will no longer do her nails. I cannot, and *WILL NOT*, have my professional life affected by someone's incorrect, and one-sided, opinion of something that is (honestly) none of their business... and has nothing to do with how well I do her nails.

But, then, I had an epiphone. It would only be fair, and professional, to give BR-client warning of her impending firing. So, I decided that I would email her what happened between L & me, my feelings about the subject, and insist that in the future, her personal feelings toward me not affect my professional life. If they do once more, I *will* fire her. I do not need that kind of stress in my life... especially my business.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is YOUR Shop "NSS"?

"NSS" is the politically-correct way to say "Chop Shop". It stands for "Non-Standard Salon". If you do some research, you'll find all sorts of information about why you should steer clear of these places.

My friend, Erin, originally posted a much longer version of this. I have borrowed this section with permission, and added my own notes in regards to Oregon's Rules & Regs, and the way *I* do business:

If you patronize a Shop that's dirty just because it's cheap and you like a great deal and love to save money, you're helping to keep dirty Shops in business. If you go to one of these places and get cut or get an infection and go back, you're making it okay to get cut or get an infection. If you continue to give these places money, you help a less than stellar business grow: It's that simple.

So, I'll break it down and make it super easy for you - call it me lookin' out for you: Here are some obvious, or not-so-obvious Signs that the Shop you're in might not have YOUR best Interests in mind:

Some things you might want to keep in mind for consideration while getting a Service are:

*Does the Shop clean their spa chairs thoroughly and deeply after each client with a disinfectant spray/cleaning tools (And, more importantly, do they let that "spray" circulate in the tub for 10 minutes)?

*Do you know if your Salon cleans and changes the filters on its spa chairs regularly?

*Do the techs take your tools out of a clean-looking disinfectant solution or autoclave/sterilizer before your service, or do they just pull random tools out of their jackets or drawers for use on you?

*Is your nail table dusty or dirty?

*Are they using clean towels for your service or are you putting your feet/hands on a (slightly) damp or dirty towel?

*Is the floor clean?

*Are your files and buffers brand-new or used (You can tell if they're used by the presence of a white "film")?

*Is your acrylic e-file sander bit new or "dusty"?

*Do your toe separators look new, or are they "curled" and worn?

*Does your tech wash his/her hands before and after every Service?

*Are the Salon's and tech's professional Licenses clearly and distinctively displayed?

*Does your tech eat during your Service or touch his/her face (nose, mouth, etc.)?

Simple things, but no amount of money is worth putting your health and safety at risk:

Good Nails Aren't Cheap. Cheap Nails Aren't Good.

A few things to note --
(1) Oregon approves use of disinfectable files & buffers if, AND ONLY IF, they are (a) labeled as such on the file/buffer itself, and (b) properly sanitized & disinfected according to state regulations.
(2) Oregon does not allow reuse of anything not labeled as sanitizible & disinfectible, including but not limited to: files & buffers not labeled as such, orangewood sticks, toe separators, etc.
(3) My own studio doesn't have the space for a fancy pedi chair... I use a dishwashing tub (that I S&D between every use, of course). Many of my clients have mentioned that they like that I use the tub, and not once have I had any complaints about it.
(4) My tile top is cleaned with a natural cleaner spray in between every client and my floor is swept between every client. (FTR - This is why I schedule 15m between clients.)
(5) My disinfectant solutions are mixed per instructions, and changed out, at minimum, once a week (more if needed; solutions shouldn't be cloudy or debris-filled).
(6) My floor is cleaned with a towel & cleaning spray at least once a week.
(7) I use clean towels with every client (and with gel polish services, you also get use of a SOFT LANDINGS table towel).
(8) I wash my own hands, & use sanitizer, before every client... and expect you to do so as well.
(9) My state certifications (Oregon doesn't have "licensing"; we get "certification"), price list, rules of my studio, and all my class certificates (five from CND, one from OPI -- so far) are all on display. Ask me anything. Seriously.
(10) Please, please, PLEASE!!! stop patronizing these shops. There's a reason they're "cheap". I will admit, compared to these places, I am "expensive", but I'm also well-educated. I do this because I love it, not to screw you for a buck. These places don't give a rat's @$$ about you, and will nickel-and-dime you every time.

Two more links for you:
What To Look For In A GOOD Nail Spa
Oregon Cosmetology Board

Sunday, July 15, 2012


GELISH has been out for a few years (it actually came out before SHELLAC... like a year or so before), but it was only available from online distributors. Don't get me wrong; I'll buy stuff online to use in my business... but let's stick to files, buffers, nail decals, glitter, etc. I refuse to buy polish, gel polish, and the like online because frankly there are too many fakes (although I will do a SWAP with a trusted friend).

As a professional nail tech, I have to stand behind the products I use. For me, that means buying a lot of stuff from local professional distributors. My two favorites are Ed Wyse (locally-owned "small" business, sells to both the public & the consumer) and CosmoProf (big chain, sells only to the beauty professional & beauty students).

When CosmoProf's manager, Gabbi, told me that they're going to start carrying GELISH, I was super-excited. It was a brand I wanted to try, since they have bright, fun colors I couldn't get in the other lines I carried at the time. When Gabbi called to tell me they were in about a month later, I picked up a top coat, a base coat, the six RIO NEONs, and a how-to sheet. When I went in to buy a few more colors, Gabbi also loaned me the how-to DVD.

As with all new products I buy, I like to test them on people (myself, included) before I offer them as a service. I basically needed one or two natural nail clients & one with enhancements who'd already worn gel polish over them. I had offered to do my friend, Anna's, nails for free with a gel polish of her choice months ago; she was trying to stop biting her nails, so I said that as a reward, I would do her nails. My friend, Krista, offered to be my other natural nail guinea pig ($30 instead of my regular $35 price), and my clientfriend, Shannon, offered to be my gel enhancement guinea pig (only charged for the enhancement rebalances; no charge for the GELISH). As I said, I also tried it on myself.

MYSELF -- I wear gels (CND Brisa, for the record), and since gel polishes came out, I have changed it up every two weeks... I get to explore my more creative side, and show people I can do more than just paint a simple french, or just one color, and I still get the extra strength of gels under the color!
* My first trial with GELISH, I used their base, three coats each of "Carnaval Hangover" & "Amazon Flirt" (five fingers of each), some loose glitter, & their top coat. By the end of the two weeks, it had worn a bit on the tips of three nails.
* My second trial, I used Axxium's base, two coats of "Coco Cabana Banana", then marbled together "Coco Cabana Banana" & "Tiki Tiki Laranga", applied a sprinkling of glitter, then Axxium's SOG top coat. Using Axxium's base & top accomplished two things -- one, I was seeing if there was a difference in wear (knowing Axxium's top coat is NOT acetone-permeable, meaning you have to scratch it before applying your Soak Off wraps, unlike Shellac & GelColor) AND two, seeing if the two different formulas were compatible (they are). By the end of the two weeks, I only had one with noticeable wear on the tip -- my right index finger.
* My Third trial, I used their base, one coat OPI's "Alpine Snow" in GelColor, two coats of "Amazon Flirt", white craft paint w/a dotting tool, and "Tiki Tiki Laranga" for the inner dots, then GELISH top coat.

SHANNON -- Shannon also wears gels. Well, correction: Shannon wore gels for years, then her pregnancy (her twins are now 4yo) messed with adhesion, so we switched her to gel polish. A few months ago, she went back to wearing gels. I didn't get a pic of all three times I did her, but
* HERE is one set. Over her gel rebalance, I used GELISH's base, two coats of "Star Burst", topped with "Crown Jewel", & GELISH's top coat. She said there was no difference in how long those held vs how long her rebalances last with any other gel polish I've used on her.

KRISTA -- My original intention was to have Krista go three weeks, just to see how well it held up. I quickly realized that a SAHM to three is *NOT* the person to test this on. :) Krista used to wear acrylics (now, for the record, I prefer the term "L&P" or "liquid & powder", since gels are just another form of acrylic, and since both contain acrylates -- a little science lesson for you), and just wanted "pretty nails for a while". That, I can do.
* For her first round, after doing some serious cuticle work & proper prep (both are a MUST if you want anything to stay on your nails more than a day or two, btw), I applied GELISH's base, two coats of "Shake It Til You Samba", topped with "Izzy Wizzy", and GELISH's top coat. I got a call about 10 days in that she wasn't going to make it three weeks... so,
* I changed her to two weeks. For her second round, I did "Star Burst" topped with "Izzy Wizzy...", using GELISH's top & base coats, then I rescheduled her next appt to be two weeks from that. When she came back at two weeks, THIS is what her nails looked like.
* It was now time to remove them, and give her a basic clean up. HERE, all I did was remove the GELISH, shape her nails, clean up her cuticles a bit, and used a nail strengthener base coat, and a shiny top coat.

ANNA -- Anna is a substitute teacher, and a married mother of five. She was on the two-week plan. She used to be a horrible nail-biter, as well... so, I thought ANY kind of UV-cured color would help. Heck, even POLISH would help, as it would give additional strength to her nails and the brighter colors may make her take a second look as they would be headed to her mouth. Regardless, she's been bite-free for a few months now; I'm very proud of her!
* First round, we chose "Ooba Ooba Blue" topped with "Crown Jewel". In the future, I will use either three coats of these NEONS, or undercoat them with a coat of white.
* Anna's nails at 13 days (couldn't do 14; she had an appt) HERE.
* Anna's redo HERE -- "Carnaval Hangover" topped with "High Voltage". These turned out much better, since I didn't have to undercoat them.
* She went exactly two weeks HERE.
* At the end, I gave her the same clean up mani that I gave Krista -- HERE.

* Gelish cures with completely different times under the UV lamp as the other brands I carry (OPI's Axxium, OPI's GelColor, and CND's Shellac). It is VERY important to remember which brand cures at what times... some products can breakdown if you under- or over-cure.
* Gelish is compatible with the other gel polish systems I carry; meaning, I can use Gelish's colors with any of the four UV-cured tops & bases I own to give you more or less strength, depending on your needs (this is great, considering that I figured out that GelColor is NOT compatible with Shellac -- fyi). It also means I can layer Gelish colors with any other brand's.
* Gelish's prep for natural nails is the same as with GelColor.
* Gelish's removal is a cross between Axxium (scratch first to break the top coat's seal) and GelColor (15m or less).
* ROCKSTAR Gelish is not nearly as easy as ROCKSTAR Shellac. Gelish is more resistant to adhesion of loose glitter (& loose pigments, for that matter) than Shellac, so to do a proper ROCKSTAR application, you have to partially cure your top color layer, press in your glitter or pigments, and finish curing. I had success with 30 seconds under the UV lamp, then finishing with the other 30 seconds, then applying my top coat.
* Gelish's top coat is similar to Axxium's SOG top coat, though not quite as strong. Neither are acetone-permeable, so I can wear either over my own UV-cured color (no matter which color/brand I use) and not worry about messing them up by using acetone on other people.

THINGS *YOU*, as the consumer, SHOULD KNOW --
* None of the UV-cured colors need to be soaked off in a bowl of acetone, and they should NEVER be filed off -- with a hand file or an electric file -- unless the color is applied over your enhancement (gel or l&p system). If the company who makes the products doesn't offer a special wrap (or your tech is trying to save money), acetone on a cotton pad, wrapped with a piece of aluminum foil, is THE ONLY thing they should be using.
* Your cuticles MUST be softened & pushed back, your nail surface must be COMPLETELY free of debris, & you need to have a nail prep (BondAid for OPI, Scrub Fresh for CND) of some sort used (some techs use IPA; that works for most products, but not all. I prefer BondAid & Scrub Fresh), for your gel polish manicure to last. Really, if you want anything to stay on your nails -- polish, gel polish, &/or enhancement -- these steps must be taken.
* Just because a salon offers "Shellac Manicures" (or some variation thereof) doesn't mean (a) they actually use CND's SHELLAC, and (b) doesn't mean they've been properly trained to use whatever products they offer. Do your research. Ask lots of questions about sanitation (another blog on this later), their licensing/certification (states' rules vary -- in Oregon, we actually have CERTIFICATIONS, not LICENSES), training/classes they've had, etc.
* Each practitioner is required to have AND TO DISPLAY their license, as well as their city/county business license (I have a compliance waiver, simply because I don't make the minimum required in my county to have an actual license).
* Check them out on Yelp, if possible. Call the state board or do some checking online (Oregon's cosmo website can be found here), check the websites of the company's products (OPI, CND, etc) to see if that salon &/or the techs who work there have had proper training (ftr -- I've taken four CND classes, earning me "GRAND MASTER" status, and one class from OPI, "GelColor"... wish they'd offer more). Oregon, btw, is not a state that requires continuing education (I wish it was!), but I still do a lot to stay ahead of the game -- networking, online videos, & practice, practice, practice! Your tech should, too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ahhhh, Progress!

When I started planning my Studio MakeOver, I knew it was going to take some time to get things done. I wanted to do it right; so I planned five full days off (well, THREE full days, and two that had one client each; ones I couldn't move) as soon as my polish rack was finished. My plan (lol -- "plan"... maybe THAT was the problem) was as follows:
Day One -- Remove everything from my studio, put it all nicely into the basement at the salon, and deep clean the whole room.
Day Two -- Spackle & mud, as needed.
Day Three -- Prime everything, paint all the white.
Day Four -- Paint all the yellow.
Day Five -- Put everything back into my room that is staying, take everything else home to sell on Craigslist, etc.

Here's what ACTUALLY happened:
Day One -- Went according to plan. Daughter joined me and was a huge help. I also posted on my business FB page, asking for assistance in choosing which yellow to paint. Both were similar once swatched, so I made my fans choose by name. The choices were "Moonlit Yellow" or "Soft Lemon". Moonlit Yellow won by a landslide!
The next day was my birthday, so I didn't do any studio work that day.
Day Two -- Took care of one morning MAN-I-cure (took me 1/2 hour), took mom & daughter to the airport, then returned to the salon. This is where things went a wee bit south. You see, the mesh tape dropped out of my bag in my garage, and I didn't know this until I was at work. I *could* have driven to Fred Meyer or the Ace Hardware nearby, but by the time I actually discovered the fact of the missing mesh tape, it was about 4p and I was tired... I had also discovered that day that two of the screws in my walls didn't want to come out, so I also needed pliers to force them. I went home.
Day Three -- Now dedicated to finishing spackling & mudding. Took about an hour. Also slapped on some KILZ to some staining on my ceiling.
Day Four -- Taped off the floor, and primed everything except the ceiling, since another coat of KILZ was needed on the staining.
Day Five -- Had a basic pedi to take care of in the a.m., then finished priming the ceiling, and painted all the white (baseboards, picture rail, the roughly one-foot section of wall above the picture rail, and finally, the ceiling).
Day Six -- Had two clients in the morning, then hubs came by with tools & my polish rack. We had lunch together, then got those things installed. I decided that the old light bar doesn't need to go back up; I'm just going to install a second lamp over the client's mani chair. Hopefully, I can buy another of the one I installed over the pedi sink.

Currently, I am taking a studio break, but I *did* wash my curtains (they still need ironing before I put them back up; one set has handmade flip flop hooks!), and did some at-home painting. My dirty towel basket was brown... now it's white. It needs another coat, then sealer. My sign was light blue; it got painted medium/dark purple. It currently also needs another coat, then the stencil in white, then seal.

I will put some of my things back in starting tomorrow, but this will be a slow process, since I need to figure out where things are going, what I still need as far as storage goes (at the very least, a stackable drawer thing for backbar - under my pedi sink area - and a nice wall-hung polish rack for my gel polishes. I have a good-sized Shellac rack that CND sent me, and want one from Deco Polish Racks, but I'm not sure what size I need, yet), and what I'm going to be getting rid of (definitely the old pedi chair, some decor items, and polishes). This Sunday, hubs will return with me so that he can change out my switches & plates. They are "almond", and I am making them all "white".

If you're not already, you can "LIKE" my business page and watch my progress in pictures. I'm posting them as I go.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moving Along Nicely...

So, today, while my daughter was at the water park with her friend & her friend's family, my husband and I finished painting my new polish rack, then went over to Home Depot & Lowe's. I picked up two new drawer knobs (decided to hold off having hubs make a new storage cabinet for being my chair; for now, I'm just going to paint it white, to match the polish rack), push-in wall hangars, and two small sample cans of paint. I like this lamp for hanging over my pedi sink (goes with my framed CND certificates), and this rug for under my new pedi chair. Sometime this week, I will paint all four walls with sample swatches of the paint, so I can decide which I like best (so far, I'm leaning more towards "Moonlit Yellow", but "Lemon" is also in the running).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You May Proceed...

Ok, thanks to my, my husband's, and my daughter's efforts, my custom made corner polish rack is done! I have narrowed my paint choices to three; I think I like one best, but will still get little cans of the three and do paint swatches to make sure. I have my new pedi chair and both cushions (one for spring/summer, one for fall/winter) bought, but not put together. I have researched carpet tiles and found a company I can get some from, but it's not cheap. I had found a 4' square rubber-backed low-pile rug I was going to order, but I measured my pedi space today, and it's a bit smaller than that (and I don't want to cut a pre-made rug). So, my next step there is to check out the local carpet places & see if I can get the tiles, or maybe have a custom rug made, for cheaper than the catalog I have. I also need to see about a lamp I can hang (on an eye bolt or something) above my pedi bowl that has a really long cord, so I can have better lighting. Pretty sure those are the last bits I need to get done before I can shut down. Oh, and if you're a client of mine, I WILL be shutting down June 21st through June 25th for the makeover.

Sometimes, Cheating Is Ok... Sometimes, It's Not

When you're in the beauty industry, things happen... Your regular clients occasionally need to go somewhere else to have their services done. For me, it's usually due to my client's schedule (work conflict, out of town, or lack of daycare are the three most common), not because of mine (although lately I have had less open appointments to accommodate last-minute clients). A few weeks ago, a client of mine, R, was leaving town for a weekend of fun with her friend, J. When she was finally able to make it back into my chair, I was prepping her for what I now call her "Diva" service (thanks, Tanya!). What do I see, but rings of fire! They weren't actually red, but there were very defined rings; ridged out of her natural nail. I semi-jokingly said, "What did you do?!?!" She goes, "I cheated... I'm sorry!" I told her next time she needs to cheat on me, that I have plenty of names for her of highly-qualified, certified by CND/OPI, nail techs I can send her to. GEEZ! Last tidbit:Here's a great, but long, article about MMA every person should read & understand.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time For Change

For those not aware, my husband & I are remodeling our bathroom. We're still in planning stages (almost done with that), but starting this project got me antsy at work. So, I decided (since I've been there 8 years and the only thing I've moved around is the stuff on the walls) to revamp my whole room. I don't have an exact set of dates yet, but I know it will be this summer; probably after the bathroom at home is done. Once I have everything bought, my plan is to take 4-5 days off. I will use the first day to take everything down off the walls & out of the room, then wash the walls, ceiling, & floors. The second day will be caulking/spackeling all the holes in the walls, then taping off & priming everything. The third day will be painting everything (depending on coverage I can get on day three, I may need day four for this). The fourth day (fifth, if more paint was needed) will be putting everything in its new place. Current plans include: {1} New lighting directly over the pedi bowl, {2} Move current lighting directly over mani area, {3} Paint picture rail & above (there's a one foot gap between the picture rail & the ceiling), plus ceiling, window frames, door, & door frame all white, {4} New chair (bought the Poang chair in Birch from IKEA, plus both the Alme natural and the Blomstermala multicolor cushions -- natural for Fall/Winter and multicolor for Spring/Summer), {5} Full coverage thin-nap rug or carpet tiles for under the pedi chair, {6} Paint walls pale yellow (I've narrowed down my choices to three), {7} New (handmade by husband & me) corner polish rack & nook-sized cabinet for behind my tech chair. There may be more... but that's all I can think of for now. Photos will be posted on my FB's work page, if you care to see the progress. Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Subbing... w/Trust

How often, as a nail tech, do we go on vacation? Practically never, right? We're rarely sick, we don't take extended vacations, and we sure as heck don't trust our clients to other techs! Well, that has now changed. Last year, I met a fabulous nail tech on Facebook. Like a few others, she was local. Unlike others, she had just gone through the training to become a CND EA (the same job I was offered, but turned down). Over the next few months, we became good friends... seems we have more in common than just nails. One thing we don't have in common, though, is her love of scuba diving. With her new work schedule (she not only takes clients three days a week, but she now must travel fairly often for her CND gig, and likes to add on days for diving), she needed someone she can trust to take care of some of her clients when she's gone for longer periods of time. A couple months ago, she asked me to block out two Tuesdays -- one to come over to her salon for shadowing, and one (two weeks later) to actually work at her salon with her clients. Part of the "problem" a lot of nail professionals have with turning over their clientelle (even if it's only a one-time thing) is trusting that your sub isn't going to steal your clients or smack-talk you to them. In this case, it was also trusting that her sub wasn't going to steal from her, since her salon is in her home. For Tanya, in her 23 years of being a nail tech, she's NEVER asked another tech to take over for her... never! In me, she saw a trustworthy individual and a skilled tech. I've been doing nails professionally for only 8 years, so for her to trust me with her clients (one of them is HER BEST FRIEND of more than 20 years!!) speaks volumes. Anyway, I took on four of her clients -- her bff Melissa, plus Thea, Lynn, & June. They all reported back to Tanya (all good things) by the end of the day. Two days later, I got a text from Melissa, asking if she could schedule her next appt with me at my studio, because Tanya won't be back in time to take care of her before she (Melissa) goes on a business trip. I checked with Tanya, and she said, "Yes! It was my idea!" Fantastic. Then, Sunday, I got a FB message from Thea, asking if I had time in my schedule to do a few repairs for her this week; I took care of her yesterday morning. I'm glad they like me enough to ask me to sub, and I'm glad Tanya trusts me enough to sub. I literally have no words for how I feel being put into this position (if I were religious, I'd say "blessed", but I'm not), but if you're a tech, you should understand.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Education

Last Monday, I decided to take a four-hour OPI GelColor class. I've been using GelColor quite successfully since its soft release last November, but this was an opportunity to get a little more education under my belt (and, who knew, maybe even learn something I didn't know). Things I learned: How to apply a French without that telltale "hump", how long you actually need to shake the bottles (thank goodness I have a hobby paint shaker I got on Amazon!), and we got a tutorial on OPI's new Lacquer Apps. I spent part of yesterday playing with GelColor, loose glitter, a colored glitter gel, and the Apps; if you're interested in photos, they are posted publicly on my work page on Facebook (

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bad Day

We all have them... those days when absolutely nothing seems to go our way? Yeah, that was yesterday. First, let me begin by reminding you that my daughter's soccer games are Saturdays. I have a rule that I work Saturdays ONLY if I can work around my daughter's game(s). Six weeks ago, when yesterday's appointments were made, I broke that rule. One of our hairdressers' clients' daughter was (a) turning 18 and (b) it was Prom... so the client made appointments with the salon's massage therapist (a basic massage), me (mani/pedi for each of them), and said hairdresser (color/updo for birthday girl, updo for friend). I was told to be there at 11a (two mani/pedis would take me four hours total -- I'd be done around 3p). Knowing I would miss my daughter's game, I made arrangements for her (yes, she was hugely disappointed -- as I have only ever missed her games when either her or I have been sick, & once when I was in New York for a weekend a few years ago -- but she *did* understand). Knowing I needed to eat before I started, and I needed to wash my basket-full of dirty towels, I left my house at 10am, and walked into the salon at 1030a... and promptly had the friend (J) handed to me to "get started on, because I must have miscommunicated" (hairstylist's words -- she thought she told me 10a). Not a problem; I had snacks I could eat in between... ... Or not. I had exactly 1/2 hour to do her manicure before she HAD to get into the massage therapist's studio, because the MT had another client coming at 1230p. Luckily, J didn't need a lot of work; I got the whole manicure, but not the polish, done before her massage. C then came in, so I took care of her mani, and got her feet soaking while I (after her massage) finished J's polish. I was interrupted by hairdresser about 5m before I was done with C (the birthday girl), wondering how much longer I'd be. Since my pedi tub needs to be cleaned & disinfected (15m) in between each client, I took that time to chow a Babybel cheese and some applesauce... but still didn't have time to even start my dirty towels (luckily, I had just enough clean ones). I was about 10m from finishing J's feet when hairdresser came back again to ask how long I was going to be. At some point, while I was cleaning, I got a message from both my daughter and the mom-friend who took her to & from the game, telling me that it was M's "BEST GAME YET", and that they tied 4-4 (previous games were 0-5 and 0-10). That upset me. Then, hairdresser called up the stairs & told me my check was on the desk downstairs; great. Finished cleaning, gathered my stuff, and went to collect my check. I know it "shouldn't" matter if a client leaves a tip or not, but after being early, being thrust into work when I wasn't ready, not eating lunch, & missing my daughter's game ("BEST"?!?!? ugh)... then to be written a check for ONLY the amount of the services was a slap in the face. As a regular client at our salon, she should know better. And, I knew better than to schedule services during my non-work time. So, I remind all of you -- a proper tip within the beauty industry is 15-20%... for EACH of your service providers; especially if they're doing you a favor! Oh, and in case you're wondering, I finally got "lunch" at 4p, when I got home. UGH!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Case You Missed It...

Since I couldn't call in my report on the Willamette Valley Nail Event, I wrote this letter instead. They read it on-air: I’ve been a nail tech (although I prefer the term “nail stylist” or “nail artist”) for eight years, and have yet to go to an industry show or event. I just didn’t see the need, being that they are costly, out-of-state, events that would take me out of my chair for at least two profitable days (I am the epitome of “Small Business Owner”). The majority of them are still mostly about hair. Nails are still the “red-headed step-child” of the industry. Apparently, that’s all changing. When Kristen Dutcher (of Keizer, Oregon) decided that we needed something closer to home, just for Nail Professionals, she put her heart & soul into making it happen. She contacted a ton of distributors, and talked Keizer’s Renaissance Inn into giving us a discount on rooms, should we choose to stay over the night before. Instead of driving down Saturday & staying at the hotel, three of us rode down in style (thanks to Cindy Walston’s husband, Rod) – we had a Town Car take us. That was traveling in style; next year, though, we’re getting a couple more ladies, and taking a limo. There were 17 nail companies and 27 educators that descended upon the Mid-Valley of Oregon; some even came in early to do meet & greets, and host private classes (I didn’t participate in any of those). Big names were there – Linda Nordstrom (Famous Names), Carla Collier (we ALL know who she is), Classic Mully (Nubar, as well as a winner on the competitor’s circuit)… just to name a few. Everyone was friendly, even doing demos all day. There were goodie bags for the first 100 people (per the number on your ticket, there were actually 140 people in attendance) – consisting of a huge sampling of goodies from names like CND, Haken, Famous Names, Light Elegance, Masterworks (Amy Becker), Sparkles (omg… the GLITTER!), INM, and many more. The nail art competition was small, but winners included Lisa Tanner (1st place for Flat Art) and Shannon McCown (1st place for 3D). I don’t know what their prizes consisted of, but the artwork was amazing. I hope more entries are sent in next year. There were also many prizes given throughout the day, based on your bracelet number – a CND Shellac rack, many bits from Medicool, Soft Landings Towels, glitter from Sparkles, subscriptions to NAILS and NAILPRO magazines, Minx, glitter gels from Light Elegance, a Valentino Beauty Pure, and so much more. There were over $4500 worth of these prizes given away!! From a personal standpoint – I loved the selection of products, the friendliness of all the educators, the willingness of everyone to teach/talk/demo their products. I also loved that NOT ONE educator spoke ill of any other company. I *do* think the restaurant inside the hotel should offer a lunch special to all attendees. I brought a sling bag with snacks & water, but was hoping I wouldn’t need to get into it… I did, anyway. Kristen did a wonderful job putting this all together, and I look forward to more. Next year plans to be even bigger. All of this year’s vendors said they’d be back, and there are a few who weren’t able to attend this year that said they’d be there next year as well (hoping for OPI's presence). A second day of “Hands-On” classes will also be available. For more information, bookmark the website:, and send a friend request on Facebook to

Monday, April 30, 2012

Featured on NTR

Tune in to Nail Talk Radio tonight -- Naja and Athena will be reading my report on-air about the 1st Annual Willamette Valley Nail Tech Networking Event!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview Update

I apologize for not getting to this sooner, but the last few days have been crazy-busy. Anyway, Sree got to my salon about 10m early; having ridden the MAX. I gave her a tour of the whole salon, and gave her a few bits of info about the ladies with whom I work. She took a few photos of things in my room (my new "garden", my framed certificates, my sign, my calendar, etc), asked a little about each thing (ie: I mentioned FRAMED ART STUDIOS, where my husband had my certificates framed by his HS friend, Brooke; hopefully, she gets a mention), and we got down to business. We talked about NSS (Non Standard Salons --- aka: "Chop Shops"), what I do & don't view as actual competition, my classes, shopping local, the area where I work, my co-workers, my salon owner, turnover within my salon, a little about my family, how I got started, and a few other things. One thing I made sure to talk about is my friendship with Tanya -- she started out as just my local CND Educator, but has become a good friend. I am taking over her clients one day (in two weeks) because she's out of town for three weeks (part business, part personal). The amount of trust -- in me, as well as my skill set as an (only) 8yr tech -- speaks VOLUMES, and I am grateful for the opportunity. Conversation was easy; she's very low-energy (in a good way). Her actual pedi only took about 45 minutes, but she ended up taking a few more photos after we were done; she was there about an hour and a half, total. She said as she was leaving that she was sorry she didn't get to meet the salon owner (Patti doesn't usually work Saturdays, but had planned on coming in that day... however, she wasn't scheduled 'til 11a), and let me know my article will be in the September (probably) issue. My friend, Erin, dedicated this song to me: PHAMOUS

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm Going To Be Famous

NAILS MAG posted last Wednesday, asking "If you're in Portland and want a visit from NAILS Magazine, leave us a comment below and let us know the name of your salon and why it's special. (Managing editor Sree will be at the Portland Marriott City Center in about a week and a half and would love to write an "On the Road" article about a salon near that location.)" I literally thought about it for a day (& asked my daughter her opinion) before I responded, "I am in SW Portland, right on the MAX line! Salon Shibumi on SW 18th, between Jefferson & Madison. Sree can PM me on here, or email me at I'd love to give her a pedi, or Shellac manicure!" After a few back-n-forth emails between Sree & myself, we agreed on a time & day (I had to move two clients, but totally worth it, and they didn't mind at all!). I will post an update as to which month I'll be featured in, but this can only do good things for me!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hot & Cold

I don't know about other people's books, but mine always seem to have this "Full one week, dead the next" thing going on... Ok, not always, but on a fairly consistent basis. Take the end of March, for example. I had mostly full days Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday. Saturday even had two clients. Then, my husband & I decided that since (1) it was Spring Break as well as our anniversary weekend (Sunday, April 1st -- 8 years married), and (2) our daughter was gone for the last half of the week, that we'd go to the beach for a few days. So, I called my Thursday, Friday, & Saturday clients and moved them. I am lucky in that the majority of my clients are as flexible as I am (some, more so), so upon hearing why I wanted to move them, they were very accommodating. Anyway, then I get back from our mini vaca, and I have literally eight clients scheduled that week. Of course, given that things happen, people get sick or hurt themselves, or whatever, two of my clients had to rebook, and one cut part of her appointment. One of my clients was also an freebie; she's the owner of the salon where I work, and we trade services (her nails for my hair, and sometimes, my daughter's hair). I made (not including tips) $181. Then, this week hits --- I have *one*! open time slot available. So, here's my goal -- I was going to say "Fill the dead space", but actually, that's not my goal... my goal is to get the any new-to-me client to book her/his appointments on those dead weeks. I don't need to be fully booked, but I kinda like being able to say, "I'm sorry, I don't have any openings until ______." Oh, and speaking of new-to-me clients, I have one coming this Friday morning... seems a bit high-strung, but perhaps it's just due to being mistreated by her former nail tech. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 26, 2012


So, a few months ago, I traded Zoya's "Rica" for Zoya's "Twila" with a polish blogger, THE NAIL FILES. I *do* know her real name, but you don't get to have that information because she swore me to secrecy (hehehe). As a nail tech, I actually am not using many of my regular nail polishes anymore, so trading works great for me.

About three weeks ago, TNF posted a photo of her FB page of a broken neck on a bottle of OPI "Unripened". I know this is considered a "vhtf" (very hard to find), so I felt bad for her. Fast forward to early last week. She mentioned that she had a new bottle of JULEP polish up for trade. So, seeing as I own zero JULEPs (they are a monthly mailed subscription polish), I sent her an email, offering her my own bottle of "Unripened"; used once.

She was over the moon happy, & offered two JULEPs (giving me my choice from five she had) in trade. Then, she asked if I also happen to have "Mad As A Hatter" (another vhtf). I did, but that one had been used a couple times. She asked for photos, and after I sent those, said, "I will give you all five of the JULEPs I listed below if you'll send me Unripened & MAAH!"

Since, as I said, I own no JULEPs, I agreed. I'm not using these polishes; they are sitting on my racks collecting dust. I could sell them to the highest bidder, but I'm not like that. So, I agreed, and sent them to her with a couple of other goodies (CND pedi sampler pack & a little chocolate). When she got them, she sent five beautiful JULEPs in a keeper box.

They're gorgeous; seriously. I don't need to swatch them 'cuz I've seen what they look like on blog sites. For the record, I now own: Elizabeth, Rachel, Brooklyn, Gayle (not my fave, but pretty), & Leighton. I'm thinking these will be great on my toes (since I never wear regular polish on my fingers)...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All Done! Well, For Now...

Last Monday was my last CND class for a while... I think. I now have my Master Painter (Shellac and Colour&Effects), Master Architect (CND's liquid & powder class, formerly known as "acrylic"), and my Master Sculptor (Brisa gel line). I just did a two-hour, Shellac basics & spa mani/pedi lines, class, as well, titled "Flavor of the Season". All of these classes got me a beautiful certificate.

All of these certificates should be professionally framed, as they are not standard frame size. Luckily, Ace has an old high school friend who owns a frame shop in SE Portland. For Santamas, Ace had my first (Master Painter) certificate done; yesterday we took in the other three to be done to match. The fifth will be my official "GRAND MASTER" certificate, which will also be framed by Brooke.

I *do* have a GelColor (OPI) class in May, but after that, my big push for classes is done... for now. As I've said before, continuing education is important; even if your state (or, if you're not even in the beauty industry, even if your chosen career) doesn't require it. If we don't open ourselves to new, bigger, better things within our scope of practice, we can't grow as a professional.

It seems that the goals I've set for myself (see that list here) are slowly, but surely, getting checked off. Oh, per that list: I'm actually getting the INTUIT version of the credit card tool, my husband is working on my shelving as we speak, and I think I actually may do my room in a pretty light purple...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Upgraded & Updated

Well, my print materials, anyway... Every two years, I raise my prices. My cost of living goes up, my cost of product goes up, I take classes to raise my skill levels, sometimes my rent goes up; I am the only one who *can* give me a raise. In the eight years I've been in business, the only clients I've lost have been ones who've moved or died; not due to my prices.

Monday's visit to Tanya's was super successful. Not only did she fix (this is why we all should continue our education; practice, practice, practice!), then "blinged out", my left hand's nails... she also went over all my promo stuff. New prices start January 1st, 2013 (well, technically, the 2nd; I'm off on the 1st), & I thought "Who better to help me with this than someone who's been in the industry for more than 20 years?"

1. My business cards: Will now have my full (legal) name, title ("Grand Master, Nail Stylist, & Artist"), name of my business, address of business, my cell number, email address, & my work page on FB --- in that order. Basically, I'm adding "GM" to my title, removing the "office" number (since it now directs you to the salon owner's cell, and she then forwards the messages), scooting everything up a line, and adding my FB account.

2. My promo cards: Will now have Shellac info on one side, and Axxium & GelColor info on the other. Shellac price list will be removed; in its place will be a blurb (possibly pic, if I can find or make one) that says, "If it doesn't say *CND Shellac*, it's not *CND Shellac*. Don't settle for imposters!"

3. My brochures: Will have an updated map, & directions from different highways, on the back (the old baseball field has a different name and the business next door has been sold). My basic services will be priced the same as they are now, but my enhancement & specialty services are going up. I also eliminated "Gel Top Coat" (decided to just include that as part of the acrylic service, if needed, instead of hand buffing to a shine), and added a second art section (one for simple painted things, one for "bling" like glitter, pigment powders, transfer foils, engraving, etc).

Now, I need to get all the new images on a disc, and arrange a time/day Megan will be available at the UPS Store up the road. She has a Graphic Design degree and already helped will my printables last time, so I'm going to stick with her for the updates. I may, down the road, have her design my website, too... but that's at least a couple years down the road (maybe for my 10 year work-iversary).

Monday, March 12, 2012


Today's "Master Architect" class was the last of three classes I needed for my "Grand Master" certification. This one was all about acrylics. Three interesting things: (1) They have a new acrylic powder they have introduced, but we didn't get any in our kits... and (2) They have new additives (pigment powders, etc) they'll be selling late this Spring, so we got samples of those. Actually, I had gotten samples at my "Master Sculptor" class last month, so this time, I got two more; I now own four... and

(3) Included in our kits was green, red, & black acrylic powders; all of which are being discontinued because of the pigments coming soon. These give me things to play with on my daughter, being as she is currently my only acrylic "client".

So, technically, I don't physically have the certificate that says "Grand Master" (I didn't even know until today that we *got* a "Grand Master" certificate; only that we got the three "Master" series certifications). That one will come within a week or two.

My husband has an old high school friend who, along with her partner, owns a custom framing shop (she owns the frame shop, her partner owns an interior design shop -- they share a large studio space). She did such a great job with my "Master Painter" certificate that I want to use her for the other three, as well.

Tomorrow, I head to my friend (and local CND rep & educator) Tanya's in-home salon to go over (1) my price list & print materials I'm going to redo at the end of the year, and (2) my May calendar to put her clients into my book, while she's out of town for three weeks.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Almost There...

So, next week Monday, I take the last in the series of three Masters classes CND offers. I've already taken Master Painter (Shellac application and their Colour & Effect line of polishes) and Master Sculptor (Brisa gel system, which I've already been using since it came out, but I did learn a couple of new things). All my print materials will have to be updated soon, as well... to reflect all these classes.

This one is Master Architect, and it goes over their new Retention+ acrylic system. They've had Retention+ monomer for a while, as well as a few others, and the Perfect Powder polymer -- these two are what I used most. Currently, the only acrylic "client" I have is my daughter (age 12 1/2), so it will be nice to learn something new & have at least one person to practice on.

I know a lot of people think enhancements on children is ridiculous. As a tech, I'd have to agree... mostly. MOST children have no clue how to take care of their things, nails included. However, since my daughter has grown up within the beauty industry, she does. She's never bitten her nails, always asks me to file/trim them when she breaks one, has regular manicures (not as regular as I'd like, but better than most kids), and consistently uses her Solar Oil.

That said, I would love to add a few regular acrylic clients back into my rotation... if nothing else, to keep my skill level where it should be. And, on that note, I was granted one of the biggest compliments I have ever been given recently...

The CND Education Ambassador who is teaching these classes happens to have turned into a good friend. She also lives about 15 minutes from me (she has a licensed in-home salon). A couple weeks ago, she asked what my May schedule looked like. I said, "Pretty open at the moment; I haven't booked many that far out yet. Why?" She said, "Because I have to travel quite a bit that month, and want you to take care of some of my clients while I'm gone."

Are you kidding me?!?! YES! As an (only) 8 year tech, to be asked something of this nature by a 22+ year tech is HUGE! I love that she trusts me & my work enough to temporarily take over part of her clientele. It's also a bit scary... but I'm looking forward to it.

Part of the reason for these classes, aside from the obvious --- making sure we're all using CND's products as they intended --- is to network. Networking becomes useful when you need to find a trustworthy tech; someone to take over your clients when you want to take a vacation or need to take a hiatus (for whatever reason), someone to refer cold-calls to when your book is full, someone who you know is a good tech.

I am hugely grateful for this opportunity, and looking forward to getting my name & my work out there even more.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are You "intuit" or just a "Square"?

The "Square" ( was the first to come up with an easy way to take credit card payments from your smartphone. Then came "Salon Swipe" (, with cheaper fees. And, now there is Intuit's "Go Payment" version (, which is even cheaper.

As you know, I have been contemplating getting one of these devices. The basic gist is:
1. Free app you download onto your smartphone.
2. Free card reader.
3. Small per-swipe percentage paid.
4. Slightly higher percentage paid if you have to manually enter the card for any reason.
5. MUCH cheaper than having a standard credit card machine (percentages are smaller, and for at least two of these, there is no monthly fee for anything).

Since one of my goals this year is to up my retail from practically non-existent, to an actual money maker, I know one of these swipers would be beneficial. But, which one?

I work 30 or less hours per week, and last year, my gross reciepts were close to $10,000 (that's less than $1,000/month). I know Intuit's version charges a monthly fee is you do more than $1000/month... but I also know that isn't happening any time soon.

So, I'm asking my readers if any of you have any experience (on either side of the salon chair); which is the best option for someone like me?

Got an email from the local rep -- she misquoted the rates. They are:
The plan is an either/or. Choose EITHER:

$12.95/mon – No minimum charge

1.7% on qualifying charges (swiping the card); 2.7% on mid-qualifying charges (keying in the number); 3.7% on non-qualifying (corporate/government cards)

$.27 per transaction on qualifying and mid-qual charges; $.34 per transaction on non-qual charges


$0.00/mon – No minimum charge

2.7% on qualifying charges (swiping the card); 3.7% on mid-qualifying charges (keying in the number); 3.7% on non-qualifying (corporate/government cards)

I would, obviously, fall under the second case. I'm not sure how many of my co-workers are signing up, but I think it's at least most of us, if not all.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Misinformation & The Uneducated...


Today's post is not aimed at any one particular blogger, but at the beauty industry bloggers, in general. I'm an avid reader, and a stickler for grammar, spelling, & internet etiquette. I am *not* perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be, but I am educated and know how to use spell-check as well as read over my blogs before I post them. I *really* wish others cared more about how they come across.

I also am a long-time nail tech, and as such, I really do know what I'm talking about. If a "polish blogger" is reviewing a polish, great. That blog is about how the specific product they're reviewing worked or didn't work for them. Most that I've read are receptive to comments from a nail pro.

If a "beauty blogger" is going to a salon & having a specific service done, then they write an article about it, it drives me close to insane when they try to compare it to other products and have no clue what they're talking about. (No, Shellac is NOT "the same as" Gelish, or Gelicure, or GelColor, or any of the multitude of other gel/polishes! No, acetone does NOT ruin your nails. There are more, but I'll spare you.)

But, apparently *I'm* not supposed to speak up to correct their errors (nicely, of course; this goes back to the etiquette thing). So, let me tell you something: It is dangerous for anyone who is not FULLY educated on a specific subject to claim to know all about it. These bloggers are misleading the public; possibly to the point of serious damage.

I do not claim to know everything about nails; I still, after 8 years in the industry, have a lot to learn. This is part of the reason why I actively network with other nail techs and other people "in the biz". But, after 8 years, I do know A LOT; I especially know a lot about the products I actively use!

I don't care how often someone goes to the salon; multiple visits does not make you a beauty professional. You do not have the knowledge about products that I, and other techs, do. Please don't pretend you do, then spout off your MISinformation. If a person truly loves this industry, as I do, you'll start asking the real professionals for advice & assistance every chance you get. The majority of us are willing & able to help you!

** Side note -- While I'm at it, I'm also very irritated at those on certain beauty industry pages (websites, as well as FB pages) who complain about products, then don't pay attention or dismiss beauty PRO's help & corrections. Stop it. If you do your research, you won't have these problems anymore.

**RANT OVER! I now return you to my regularly scheduled blogs.**

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Education Rocks

I really wish I lived in a state that required ongoing education in my industry... but, it doesn't. Hence part of the reason NSS are so prevalent, imo. However, I do not consider myself, and other nail techs of my caliber, "in competition" with these places; I am better than they are.

Just one of many aspects of why I'm better -- I take classes anyway. Just because they aren't required in my state does not mean you shouldn't be taking them. And, just because they are only offered by specific companies whose products you may not use doesn't mean you shouldn't be taking them, as well. ALL efforts to further your education can be beneficial.

With that in mind (plus the fact that I actually *do* use CND products), I took the second of three MASTER classes offered by CND this past Monday. This one was "Master Sculptor" -- all about their Brisa gel line. I've been using the Brisa system since it came out (& since I graduated beauty school) in 2004, but I know I can always improve my skills... and I may even learn something!

Sure enough, I picked up a couple new tricks for laying a nice pink & white, as well as how to do a faster p&w rebalance. I also learned that CND reformulated their bonder; you now must cure it for 10s in your UV lamp. During class, I got to play with different pink "builder" gels (they also have clear, white, and black); some of which can be used as a cover for shorter nail beds, bitten nails, &/or marks of trauma on the nail bed.

We also got a preview of CND's new line of pigment powders... :)

Anyway, two down, one to go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Multiple Impressions

Just a quick share:

The owner of the salon where I booth rent (Patti) has been a CND Shellac ("Wildfire", to be exact) lover since its release in May, 2010. Her favorite color since she was a child has been cherry red... the color of old Mustangs, and her long-held vision of "glamour". It also helps that this guy she's been seeing LOVES that color on her nails, and owns at least one fancy car in that color.

So, when I brought OPI GelColor into the salon, she balked. It took quite a bit of convincing; I even promised her I would remove the GelColor and apply Shellac if, within a week, she didn't like the GelColor. We chose Big Apple Red, because it's the closest GelColor to Shellac's Wildfire... and still, she was unsure about it when she left my chair that day.

A week later, I asked her thoughts. "It's not rubbery like Shellac..." At the time, I had no idea if that was good or bad; it's true, though. Shellac, being a hybrid, is rubbery. It's meant to bend a little with your natural nail. It won't do that on an enhancement, of course, but she doesn't have enhancements. This bendiness is also one of the reasons why Shellac doesn't do so well on nails that are prone to peeling &/or are super-thin... too much bend will break the Shellac, and it'll come off.

Another week went by and, due some some snow in our area, she had to reschedule her appointment to accomodate some of her clients. By the time I got her back in my chair for her re-do, it was a full 18 days from the day I first did them. Aside from working about 50hrs/week (give or take) as a full-time hairdresser, she also has an active social life... and the morning of her appointment with me, she had unpackaged & assembled two new salon chairs, then broke down the boxes for recycling.

During the box-breakdown, one of her nails' GelColor peeled off. So, she got a good 18 days of wear (Shellac would be peeling one her by day 12 or 13, unless I double-top-coated). After she declared, "I LOVE this stuff!", I also confirmed the color choice. She said, "This is actually closer to my favorite OPI shade - Thrill of Brazil - than the Shellac was." Um, yeah... actually, it's a dead ringer for the regular polish with the same name, but, she's sold!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shout Out to Shutterfly

Last year, my beloved Ed Wyse Beauty Supply (sorry, ladies; these stores are only open in Oregon, Washington, & Idaho) gave me an OPI calendar. It was really cool; people had sent in pics, and OPI had chosen some quotes from their fans off of OPI's Facebook page. This year's calendar... boring.

A nail tech friend of mine posted some status messages about the nail calendars she was making; selling them to her clients for $12 each. Now, I know I don't have the clientele that warrants selling them, but I do have a Shutterfly account. So, I hemmed & hawed; asking my husband & mom what they thought. Ace, as usual, told me he didn't think my clients would buy them, but to make one for the salon. Mom loved the idea.

I was still on the fence when I got an e-coupon; $20 off my next order (plus, free shipping over $30 is standard right now, and they have prints starting at 9c each). That did it for me. I set about deciding which photos I wanted; pulling a few extras just in case. Then, I figured out which layout I wanted, and how many photos each month. I had a hard time figuring out a couple of months' text, but once that was done, I sent it to my nail tech friend, Cathy to look it over.

She said it looked great, and helped with the last month's quote I couldn't come up with. I deleted all of the religious holidays (I am agnostic, & my clients run the gamut); substituting neutral-sounding ones (ie: Santamas, Leprechaun Day, etc), & added my immediate family's birthdays & my wedding and work anniversaries, then got to work on the prints I wanted. We had my stepson's senior portraits & my stepdaughter's sophomore pics we hadn't printed, yet, as well as some snapshots I wanted to frame for my studio.

So, now, I wait patiently for it to arrive... and my wonderful friend, Cathy, gets my OPI one (since they're limited release, and she didn't get one). I'm already working on next year's, with photos I'm taking now (less of a time consuming process later). As you may remember, one of my goals for this year was to take more pics of my work. So far, so good!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year; New Goals

I don't make "resolutions"... I believe setting goals & making plans are a better way to work toward achieving success. So, this year, I sat down and made a few plans for this year.

1. Take the remaining two CND certification classes: Master Architect & Master Sculptor.
2. Download the SQUAREUP app so I can finally take credit cards.
3. Take more photos of my work (preferably, *all* of my work).
4. Get my retail up to par, and sell, sell, sell!
5. Attend at least one networking event.
6. Repair the few holes in my walls left from the previous techs, and give my room a fresh coat of blue paint.
7. Get my room fully reorganized (which *will* happen as soon as my husband builds me that corner polish rack I've asked for).
8. Buy a new pedi chair OR a massage/heat pad for the current one.
9. Add at least five more regular clients.
10. By the end of the year, I will need upgraded brochures & business cards -- 2013 brings price increases, and I'll be a "CND Certified Grand Master"!

I'm sure I'll add more as I think of them, but this list of ten is a good start!

I'm also curious: What are YOUR goals within your business this year?