THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL NAIL TECHS
Sometimes on this industry landscape, there seems to be some secret roadmap that successful people have, and we don’t. We scratch our heads and wonder how they get all that free product, and how they got to have 300k Instagram followers, or how they were able to work on that celebrity for the red carpet? What’s their secret? And more importantly, how do I get to do those things too? THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL NAIL TECHS
If the state of my Instagram DMs is any indication, nail professionals are looking for advice on how to “get ahead” in the beauty industry. “How do you do celebrities?” “Can you look at my work and give me some tips? I want to do what you do.” Honey, I can barely believe I get to do what I do – but I am happy to share what I know, within reason.
When I decided to make the jump from my hellish corporate job and enroll in nail school, I knew that I wanted to do what I do now – have an agent, work with celebrities and brands, work fashion week, and generally own things like a boss. So when I got into school, I was that annoying girl who clutched at her face and whispered, “you guys, can you believe we’re here? We’re living our dreams!” It’s no wonder that everyone hated me – I was insufferable. THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL NAIL TECHS
The first day of nail school, I already knew my exact goals. I researched the manicurists that I looked up to, and whose careers I wanted to emulate. I read everything I could about Julie Kandalec, Miss Pop, Fleury Rose, Elle and Marianne Newman. I read industry magazine interviews and looked at their portfolios on their agency websites. I tried to come up with my own path and how to reach those same career heights by making a million plans and figuring out how I could do similar things where I am, in Chicago. All that was left to figure out was how the heck I was going to make it happen.
Herein lies the main difference between the path I took and the method many nail techs who reach out via email or DM try. I researched and tried and failed at a lot of things. I bugged Tom Bachik on twitter a couple times, but when he stopped answering, the message was clear. No one was going to make this happen for me. I figured it out, and I’m here to tell you there is no secret. Let me repeat that for the people in the back. There is no secret sauce.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but behind the success enjoyed by the top names in our industry, there is a lot of hard work. There’s early morning call times and countless rejection emails – if you’re lucky enough to receive a reply at all. There’s disappointment and jobs they had to do “for exposure” (read: no money.) There’s expensive kits they had to buy and sometimes not-so-nice celeb clients that are difficult and belittling. There’s the constant self-doubt and creative droughts and the grind of having to do events and constantly produce and create content for the brands they work for.
I’m not asking you to feel bad for successful people. I promise I’m not. But what I am asking you to consider is the hard work and talent that went into making them who they are. When I receive a DM asking me for my agent’s email address so some random person can try to join my agency (I swear this happened), I feel very conflicted. I remember the aspiring manicurist that I was just four short years ago, and try to put myself back into those wide-eyed shoes. The other half of me wants to write back, “Sure, let me distill down four years of learnings and failures just so you can get a leg up, just because you decided to ask one day.” THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL NAIL TECHS
I don’t reply that way, because I’m a professional, but I also don’t always reply. I will happily share my knowledge with anyone willing to ask – but ask in the right way. This path isn’t for everyone, and I want others who seek out the “status” of creative ambassador or celebrity manicurist to know that it’s a difficult road. There is no predetermined path, so even those amazing manicurists listed above question themselves. This a job full of fickle clients and brands that favor a large Instagram following above all else. There’s a lot of pressure, including the pressure we put on ourselves to be better everyday. I figure if someone who reaches out to me wants this job badly enough, they will make it happen for themselves, without shortcuts.
Despite what sounds like sour grapes above, I do genuinely want to help others who aspire to do session work, so that is why I now teach an intro to session manicuring class. I want to share the things I wish I knew when I started. You can find me at ISSE Long Beach on January 29th, 2018, teaching “From Full Set to On Set: An Introduction to Session Manicuring.” I’m sure I will be teaching this class at other shows in 2018, so stay tuned for those. If there is enough interest, I would be willing to host it in a webinar or online class – just let me know in the comments below. THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL NAIL TECHS