Friday, May 29, 2015


Artistry of the Nail is *MOVING*!! Not too far, though; just down the hall. As of July 1st, I will be in the center room upstairs of the salon. Set up will be similar to the current one; with more room!

For the last six months or so, I've debated with myself, talked to my family, a few friends, and a couple of trusted nail sisters; I've been trying to figure out if I want to move my studio. I currently rent about 60 sq ft (tiny), but more & more, I've found myself wanting space to have a real retail area (I currently have mini bottles/jars of things, and a few pedicure items in the windowsill...), offer hot towels & paraffin (no room to store the equipment), maybe even have a waiting area so when the occasional client is early, they don't have to go back downstairs to wait for me to finish!

We had a salon meeting mid-February, during which we all found out we'd have a $100/m rent increase starting with April's rent. We also were (finally) getting new rental agreements. Now, the rent increase was quite a large jump, but deemed fair (she pulled comps in the area, and we're still paying less than the going rate for our neighborhood; plus we get free parking for us and our clients!). I, too, wanted to get a comp for nail-specific or small-office space, so I started calling around.

I asked my massage therapist (Rachel) to help me look around her building's neighborhood (she's six blocks from my current location), talked to my esthetician (Amanda; her building is 8 minutes directly north of me), and talked to a few of my reliable clients to see how far they'd be willing to travel. Obviously, the closer I am to my current building, the less client loss I'll see.

Rachel told me a few things -- (1) The other massage therapist in her building may be moving out. That space is ~100 sq ft, has a utility sink, and a small closet with a built-in desk. (2) The building across SW KING from her has a Spaces For Lease sign out front; it's been there a while and she knows from her own space-research that he had different sizes of rooms available. (3) There is another building around the corner a couple blocks further up the hill from her which also had a Spaces For Lease sign out front.

After a few back-and-forths, it was determined that her co-worker got permission from the landlord to sublet her space; if she can find someone to work in there 3 days per week, she could continue to use it the other 4 and hold down her other job. Ok, that's not going to work for me (unless she can't find a sub-letter, and has to leave, anyway)... I called the rental company of the building across from her, and as soon as I said I was a nail tech looking to rent a larger space, the agent told me that the owner is "looking for a Professional-type, like a lawyer or therapist..." So, your sign's been up for more than six months, and you're that picky about your renters? Your loss! I then checked in with the other building's rental agent. She said they have one space available right now; it's 365sq ft and $900/m. Hmmm... if only I had another beauty professional I could share it with. She offered to keep my number handy, in case another smaller space opened up.

I then contacted the guy in charge of all the local salon suites (the one company I looked at has four local locations). After much back & forth with him, I got that a normal space goes for ALMOST $1000/MONTH!! That's ridiculous. They see no difference in ability to make money & pay between nail techs and hairdressers or other beauty professionals. They also do not give you any discount if you want to set up your room on your own, and don't want the cable & internet the rooms come with. Um, no thanks.

I also talked to another massage therapist who rents space in Hillsboro; her landlord has multiple buildings and she gave me his number. Moving my salon to Hillsboro would probably lose me at least half of my current clients, but rent would be cheaper, I'd have downtown Hillsboro's professionals to draw from (plus recommendations from some of my Hillsboro-area beauty professional friends -- I have at least five or six who would probably send people my way), and the commute would be less than 15m (current commute is ~40m, depending on traffic). My esthetician friend game me her landlord's number, as well; that building is three stories, has parking for the space renters (4hr street parking for clients), and has multiple sizes available, as well (for a bit less than I currently pay). One of my nail sisters, Michelle, just got the ok to rent space on her university's campus, so she told me "Think outside the box...".

I started eyeing other buildings within my own salon's neighborhood. There are three just west of us, only a few blocks away, with FOR LEASE signs out front. However, before I started research on those, I shared information with the owner about the salon suites; thinking that if she sold the current business (something she's talked about off & on for a couple years), and she *didn't* want to stay, her & I could share one of the slightly larger suite spaces. She'd never heard of the company, so looked it up on her iPad while I was giving her a pedicure. She agreed that was definitely an option.

Then, I sprung another idea on her. How about I take the center room? I know it's a bit more in rent than what I pay now, but if I moved into that space, I have the potential to make more money. I told her I want to do real retail, offer hot towels & paraffin dips, have the storage that that room has. I'd be willing to sign a new rental agreement. Originally, I thought I should deconstruct my current room, but then I realized that doing that would leave a section of flooring & wall (the section under the pedi platform) incomplete. A better idea would be to leave it as is, and see if a new-to-the-business nail tech wants the space. Another option is that a massage therapist, esthetician, or office professional wanted the space; they were then free to do whatever they want to with the space (including removing or just repurposing the current set up). I would, of course, take everything else (except the little cabinet behind the desk; that would also stay), and set it up in the other room. She said, "Notice I haven't said no..." but asked to think about it.

That was last Friday. After sketching & researching things I'd need to move in there, I came in on Tuesday and took some measurements of the room & closet. I also snapped a few pics. Since I had to borrow a tape measure (I forgot mine at home), I asked to borrow the salon's, so she asked me what I was doing. I wasn't ready to share with the rest of the salon's staff, so I said, "Remember that thing we talked about Friday? I'll get you a sketch later today." When I got home, I asked my husband to draw it out using the software we bought to mock-up our house remodeling projects.

He got all fancy with it, of course, and filled in wall color, door color, shelving color, trim colors, a curtain for the closet, etc. Then, he showed me the 3D rendition. OMG; perfect! I had him screenshot the overhead drawing, and I sent it to Patti along with some notes and the links to the mani tables I'm considering as well as the pedi spa I found (no plumbing!!). I emailed her all of that Wednesday, and today, I got a YES!! This is the mock-up, if you're interested (rectangle in upper left corner represents the pedi spa chair in its OPEN position; closed while not using would take 2/3 of that space). I'll be posting pics on my FB page of the new room redo as I get stuff completed. Ikea trip, anyone?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

LED Experiment

With CND finally introducing their new LED lamp, I decided to run some tests. First, let me explain a few things: UV light is a spectrum; a range. LED lamps run within the "visible light" part of that spectrum (so, when your "tech" tells you "LED is safer than UV", they are either lying to you or have zero idea on the subject themselves; LED is still UV). Traditional UV lamps can range anywhere in the 300-400 nanometer range (although most range 350nm-385nm), and each company's lamp is calibrated to properly cure their specific product. LED lamps are usually dialed in around 405nm.

When you use a lamp not intended for a specific product, you risk your product being under-cured (most likely not visible to the naked eye, btw... so don't tell me "well, it *looks* cured!") which can, over time, lead to serious skin issues including burning sensations, itching, skin peeling, and worse. You also, of course, lose the guarantee from the company and if you get sued when someone has a medical issue, you are on your own.

All that being said, I, like many artists, want to know certain information about products so that I can figure out which "rules" I can break. When I asked multiple sources how many nanometers CND's new lamp is, I got *ONE* answer: "That is proprietary information because the lamp is still patent-pending." Hmmm.... To me, and a few other techs I've spoken to, that is a bit fishy. Not unheard of, mind you, just irritating. I even ran all of this (my thoughts on the subject & what I know for sure) past my husband (one of his two degrees is in Electrical Engineering, so to say he "knows a little" is an understatement). He agrees completely with me, and educated me even further on a few things.

So, I set out to do some testing. Now, since LED lamps for nails have come on the market, a lot of techs have tried using them to cure *traditional* UV-curable nail products. Some had success, some did not. Of course, there are a LOT of products that are curable in either (anything that is LED-curable is also, by default, UV-curable... but not necessarily the other way around). Most experiments I saw involved curing the UV-curable products in the LED lamp for the times set for LED curing (30s for most layers; usually less for base coats).

The problem was, when you go to wipe off the tacky layer (aka: "dispersion" layer), a lot of the color also came off. What was happening is what some pros call "The Frosting Effect" -- seemed cured on top, but was still runny underneath. That runny layer is what will, over time, cause those skin issues I mentioned above. The answer, it seemed, was to cure longer; 60s each for colors & top coat seemed to be the agreed-upon time.

CND's new lamp came out and guess what? There are four buttons -- one for base coats (10s pulse), one for Shellac colors (60s), one for all Brisa/Brisa Lite gels (60s), and one for all CND top coats (60s). According to all info I can find, the lamp will cure all current and all future CND products. But, the fact that their products (minus the base coats) will cure in their new lamp in the same amount of time that techs have successfully been curing their products for in other lamps, and the fact that ALL LED lamps made for use with nail products have to fall within the violet spectrum, tells me that their new lamp is within a few nm of 405.

My testing was done in five stages --
(1) Using CND's Shellac on one plastic nail tip and using CND's Brisa Lite on another plastic nail tip. Each got 10s (no pulse) for their base coats, 60s for each color/gel layer, and 60s for top coats. The Shellac'd tip only got top coat on HALF the nail. When done curing in my LED lamp (I own OPI's, btw), I used IPA99 to wipe off the tacky/dispersion layer of each tip... I got a little residual Shellac; no more than usual.

(2) Using CND's Shellac over another company's soft/soak off gel. On my right hand, I used Artistic Nail Design's base coat (for soak off, you use their "Bonding Gel"), then "Correction" (the one in the jar; to give me a little extra strength), then their soak off top coat ("Glossing Gel"). {For the record, when you use a system in full -- base coat, center, top coat -- that is not *mixing systems"; once you finish off the system with their top coat & wipe the dispersion layer, you can layer any brand of color on top of it}. I then cured two layers of Shellac for 60s each (I used "Electric Orange") and Shellac's top coat also for 60s. Those nails lasted over a week (more than I expected), had zero breakage, a little tip wear (as expected; I'm right handed), and zero skin problems.

(3) Using CND's Shellac over CND's Brisa Lite system. Base coat for 10s (OPI's LED lamp doesn't have a pulse), BL Sculpting for 60s, BL Top Coat for 60s, two layers of Shellac (this time I used "Lush Tropics" and added their "Seaglass" glitter additive) cured for 60s each, then topped with Shellac's top coat and cured that for 60s. I've been wearing that and have the same results as (2).

(4) Using CND's Shellac over Artistic Nail Design's hard gel (RockHard). This is on a client; she wore it with no problems for two full weeks. I used my e-file to remove the gel and found zero uncured/undercured/goopy Shellac. She has zero skin problems.

(5) Using CND's Shellac over Artistic Nail Design's soft gel, on a client (yes, I tested this on myself, but her soft gel is thicker than mine was and she's elderly... I may have different results). She, also, had zero skin problems and the Shellac was as it should be when I filed it off her enhancement.

I want to run a test on Shellac under the LED lamp by itself on someone, but none of my clients wear Shellac alone. Maybe I'll put it out there on my FB page to be my guinea pig...