Friday, December 12, 2008

Where Has the Year Gone?

As I was sitting here this morning trying to think about what to blog, I could not help thinking how fast this year went by. I started to think of all the things that we accomplished this year at Star Nail and the list is remarkable.

It was a busy year with a few new countries under my travel belt. I gave seminars in Honduras, Latvia, Ukraine, London, Romania, Panama and South Africa. Of course there are a few US cities in there as well.

Along with the rest of our marketing team, we created and edited and edited and edited and edited FOUR catalogs!! Cina (my baby), Cuccio, Star Nail and All Season Nails all got a face lift with these catalogs. I'm so proud of all of us. They are amazing. I severely under estimated the work it would take putting together four catalogs at once. The day they arrived on the truck to our warehouse was a day of celebration. Our work was done....or really just beginning.

We added so many new products this year. At Cosmoprof we launched our new Eco System line. Eco System is composed of four odor FREE systems (acrylic, powder gel, gel overlay and sculpting gel).

We launched Nail Evolution, by FAR the best acrylic powder and liquid I have ever used in my 16 years of doing nails. All of my acrylic ad work, posters and Nailpro covers this year were done with this powder and liquid. The clarity just rocks my world.

Cuccio got a lot of attention from us this year. For a few years now we've been known as "the Butter Company". Well we've expanded on that. We added our Cuticle Butter Sticks (think of chapstick for your cuticles). We also added Butter Lytes. NOT Lotion. I can't even use the "L" word for these. It's our famous Butter Formula in a lighter viscosity. For hotter humid months OR clients that aren't quite as dry. Let's face it, there isn't only one skin type out there.

Photoshoots took on new life this year. Two of our best are yet to be seen. We shot a full day of Cuccio with three models, hair staff, stylists for their wardrobe, photographer with two assistants and myself (fingers and toes). Just wait until you see the ads that are coming this year.

Cina got a lot of photoshoot love. Many of the images are in the catalog and will be following in ads and style changes. This is always fun for me since Nail Art is my favorite part of our Industry. For this we had three models representing the most beautiful hands and feet.

Yes, 2008 has been a very busy year. I'm exhausted just recounting it. I know there is so much more that I'm forgetting.

2009 is already taking off. My travel schedule has not gotten any lighter. We'll be launching a HUGE DVD right after the new year. And I'm already working on new products for the Vegas Cosmoprof show. It never ends. THANK GOD. I love what I do.

Thanks for a great year and allowing me to continue my passion and love for the industry.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, December 5, 2008

How To: How to topcoat a Nail Art Decal without smudging the design.

Today's blog is a VIDEO blog. One of the most common technical questions I get is, "Why do your decals smear when I topcoat them?".

So I created a quickie video that shows A) just how many times you have to swipe over that decal before it smears (go easy on it folks) and B) a trick I teach to avoid it all together if you can't give up your swiping ways.

Just click the following link to go to and see the video.

Elaine's How To Video

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nail Tech Trick of the Trade

I'm always fascinated at the little home experiments nail technicians will do. Some of the greatest product ideas usually come from Nail Tech ingenuity.

At our company we offer two kits of color gel for creating a permanent polish look or works of art. In my line, Cinapro, we have the Pastel Kit and the Runway Collection Kit. Naturally, the best pigment mix comes from lab. However, a Nail Tech doesn't have to stop there. You can actually mix two or more of our colors together to make a new color. Custom colors can really set you apart from the competition. You can literally label the jar, "Mary" or "Lucy" after your client.

Taking customization one step further, Star Nail Gels can actually be mixed with....POLISH to create colors. The mix ratio is 60% Gel to 40% of your favorite polish color. Stir them up and apply like usual. If you want a lighter version of the same color, just mix less of the polish. With Clear gel you'll get more of a transparent color. With White gel you'll get an opaque color. Just be sure that you are using a 9watt UV lamp to cure your colors. Especially the opaque ones. The more pigment you add the harder it is for the UV rays to penetrate the thickness of the gel and cure it completely. A way to get around that is to do super thin coats (cure in between each coat) and do several coats to build it up.

Moving on to Acrylics. In the Cina line we offer a "Color Pigment and Mixing Kit". It's raw pigment you mix with your own acrylic powders to create custom blends of color acrylic. However, you can actually tint the monomer with your favorite polish. Just a few drops in your dappen dish of monomer will tint the liquid. Simply dip like normal and make an acrylic ball tinted through and through with the monomer. It's an alternative to those additive drops that tend to evaporate in the jar. Again, clear powder creates transparent (stained glass) effect, while white powder will create an opaque effect.

Building custom colors doesn't have to be just an artistic thing. Keep in mind not all powders or gels are so perfect for every given skin tone. Offering a custom blend to match your clients skin tone is definitely something you want to market to your clients. This will set you apart from the competition. Just be careful to keep your recipe in a safe place so that you can match your first batch in the future.

Have fun mixing!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My First Pogo Stick

On August 27 I wrote a blog titled "Misogyny". The topic was how miserable Apple made me when I went to use my new iPhone and discovered the screen didn't react to my nails. Women across the world have been feeling my pain.

Well, I am happy to announce that someone heard our cries. Introducing the "Pogo Stylus". The people who made the pogo have discovered a way to mimic the touch that our skin generates on the screen of an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. I've been using mine all week and am so relieved to type an SMS without hitting any and every letter besides the one I really want.

My absolute favorite thing about using the Pogo, no more disgusting finger prints all over my screen. There is nothing more embarrassing than extending my phone to share a picture with a friend only to realize my screen is covered in smudges.

The only downside... where do I keep my Pogo so that it is handy on the fly? Well Pogo does ship a clip on holster for your Pogo Stylus. However, it only fits the iPhone if you aren't using a cover. I'm constantly tossing my iPhone into my hand bag and just couldn't imagine the damage I would cause my phone if I didn't have my full cover on it. Maybe the people at Pogo will come out with a full case that has a spot to store the stylus.

To find a Pogo Stylus, just google "Pogo Stylus" and you'll find lots of retailers on the internet.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frequent Flying For Dummies

I just love the “For Dummies” books. For years now I’ve joked about doing a “Frequent Flying For Dummies” book. The joke in it is, if you’re a frequent flyer already, you don’t need my book. But if you’ve just started a career that is going to take you all over the Globe, here’s a few things you need to know. I’ll keep them in order of things you’ll go through.

1. Do not leave your medication in your checked bag. Pack some in your carry on!

2. Do not take everything but the kitchen sink in your carry on luggage. And by the way, two bags means TWO bags. Your hand bag counts.

3. Arrive to the airport on time. If you are flying domestically, one hour is the closest you want to cut it. Internationally, it’s two hours. Those of us that got to the airport on time, snicker at those of you that arrived late and now must cut the line.

*side note. Frequent flyers take “the line” very seriously. Like Kindergarten seriously. Don’t even try to cut or you’ll be in big trouble.

4. Check in ahead of time and learn to use the Kiosks. They are so much faster.

5. Keep your boarding pass and id in your hands until you’ve gone through everything ending in security. We hate waiting while you look “where I stuffed it somewhere”.

6. Security is an entire two chapters at least!! It’s easy…take off your shoes, sweater/coat/sweatshirt, belt and all jewelry. So don’t act surprised when the detector goes off because of your rodeo belt buckle and mobile in your pocket.

7. TSA is not your friend. Don’t think they think you’re cute when you’re getting it all wrong.

8. Grab your stuff and step away. Those of us trying to get our items, do not want to wait for you to put on your 50 items of jewelry and to tie your shoes. Just grab it and go.

9. Always double check your gate on the monitors before you go to it.

10. Always triple check your gate on the monitors before you go to it.

11. When boarding the aircraft, think of it like a fire drill. Get to your row, stand in the seating area, drop your gear and decide what’s going up top and what’s going down below. And for god sakes don’t have a conversation in the aisle while the line is backing out the door.

12. Pay attention to the safety bit. Those poor Flight Attendants are in charge of your comfort for what could be many, many hours. Give them the courtesy of listening even I you have heard it a million times.

13. Just because I am sitting next to you, does not mean I want to hear about your Ant Flo and her skin disease. Unless I’ve given you the “signal” that I care to talk, pretend I am not even there. And one person going “ah hum, ah hum” is not a conversation. If you hear this, you are talking too much. And remember, the people five rows back do not want to hear your conversation!

14. My seat is MY seat. Please do not let your bored child unleash his frustrations on the back of my seat. And for the LOVE of God and all that is holy, do not use the back of my seat to pull your butt out of yours! I’ve lost CLUMPS of hair to this maneuver and awoke suddenly with the sensation of a heart attack.

15. When it is time to get off the plane. Be kind and let the person ahead of you out of their seat first.

16. At baggage claim try not to walk up and stand in front of someone whom is already waiting. If you see your bag, politely say, “excuse me a moment I see my bag.” Then get it and step back.

These are just a few tidbits. They are the most annoying of all of the guidelines to traveling. I really could write an entire book.


(writing from Johannesburg, South Africa today)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Electric!!

To E-file or not E-file? That is the question. A few weeks ago I devoted a blog about "don't blame the machine blame the tech that misuses it". However after a discussion on my favorite tech forum I decided it was time to give you all some much needed facts on an E-File.

Shopping: When shopping for an e-file there are many things that should be top of your list. Even before, "I want it cheap.". How the hand piece fits in your hand is most important. If you use a machine that extends quite a bit past your wrist with a huge, heavy motor you will end up with wrist problems from countering the weight constantly. Also, ask for a "micro motor" machine. These aren't like the older versions, in that you won't need to replace tiny "brushes" inside the hand piece. Little to no vibration is also important in your hand piece. The vibration is the cause of two concerns. First, it can cause cumulative trauma to your hands over the life of use. Second, the vibration can cause the filing bits to smack the nail causing micro shattering. This can lead to lifting and breaking of the artificial nail. Torque is super important. To test torque let your bit spin and slowly add pressure to the bit. How much pressure can you add before the bit stops? Torque is what keeps the bit spinning even when you apply pressure. If you intend to shorten long acrylic nails. You will need Torque to take that excess acrylic right down. Also, Torque is a substitution for speed. If you have good torque you do not need high speed. Speed will only make your bit skitter across the nail and not actually bite product. High speed and applying pressure to your filing = Intense Heat. Add torque, eliminate pressure and speed and your client will love you to pieces.

Bits. Carbide vs Diamond. I used to be a die hard carbide girl. I am now a die hard diamond girl. Diamond bits, when used in a side to side (yes they cut both ways) manner, create a beautiful, perfect nail surface. Carbides shave down and tend to leave many flat sections that you need to even out with a buffer. Diamonds, when used on the correct speed will take MUCH more effort to cause damage. With Carbides, one quick mistake can cost you so much! Good diamonds are important as well. Be sure they are applied electromagnetically and not with adhesive. Your bits will last much much longer. Also, hand detailing is important. One tiny grain being much larger than the rest will create a trench everywhere you lay that bit down. All of your diamond grit should be even and equally distributed.

Oil. I'm an e-file drilling oil addict. I can't FINISH file without it. When drilling oil is applied to finish filing (if you use it during prep you'll cause lifting), you eliminate any chance of friction/heat. You protect the surrounding skin. And a great benefit, it eliminates airborne dust particles that we inevitably inhale!

Here are a few tips. Do not let your bit extend too far out of the end of the hand piece. If you do, and you drop your hand piece (don't EVER drop your hand piece) you will likely bend the bit and collet that holds the bit. A bent shank doesn't have to be visibly bent to do micro shattering to the nail. If it doesn't spin concentric and is the slightest little bit off of concentric, your bit will basically smack the nail every time you touch it. This results in lifting, cracking, breaking, vibration and discomfort.

Do not use anything but oil made for use with the e-file. These drilling oils are made without fragrance or dyes. Both of which will cause damage to your machine as it gets into the hand piece. A pure oil will not cause problems.

In closing, please be a safe e-file user. Get the proper training. There have been too many techs out there that have misused this tool and given it a bad reputation. It is NOT the tool, it is the user! There are many companies and accredited schools that offer certification in the use of the e-file. Feel free to contact me for any suggestions on where to get the classes, machines or bits.

(writing from Valencia, CA today...and off to South Africa)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ex List

About two months ago I was contacted by an actress with concerns about her nails. I thought it would make a fun topic for my blog today. Her name is Anne Bedian. She plays the psychic on "The Ex List" one of CBS's new series on the Fall Line up.

I was tickled to hear that a series is putting so much of a focus on her character's nails. The problem is, the poor girl is having so many sets of nails put on and taken off that it is starting to have an effect on her nail beds.

I decided to share the solution with my blog readers. It's great information if you ever want to get into doing photo shoots or working on sets. Basically, Anne's character has artsy nails. So she was telling me she has to go in and have them done before they shoot an episode. If I remember correctly the tech is using a Fiberglass system. She then applies all of Anne's nail art to the set of nails. Anne then travels to the set and shoots the episode. After the shoot she takes them off.

What I suggested is we size up Anne and get her into a full coverage tip. She could then get her tech the information for all ten nails and carry the tips. Right before an episode is shot Anne could then pick up the set of nails and take them to the set. Instead of using nail glue to keep them on for the episode, I suggested "toupee and wig tape". I have to credit my friend Tom Bachik for this one. He shared this idea with me for some of the shoots I work on.

I haven't had a chance to see Anne in action. I've had my TiVo set to record her episodes just so I can see what designs they are doing on her nails.

My next few blogs will be coming from South Africa. My flight takes off early Friday morning. I'm not so sure I'll have an internet connection while there. However, I'll be sure and blog my experience and upload the blogs when I get back. Hopefully, I'll be all set with the internet.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Beauty of the Industry

I decided to use today's blog to actually talk about myself! For anyone that has ever attended one of my seminars you already know I have a hard time with this. However, I do have a message behind telling my story and I hope you stay awake long enough to get the message.

I'd love to say I have always wanted to do nails or be in the nail industry. It would be one of those stories that's off to a great start. The plans for my future were supposed to be get a sports scholarship, go to college and be an architect. By the time I got to senior year I burned out of sports. All of my hard work paid off but ruined my desire. I ended up working in a local grocery store behind the financial desk.

My sister, Janis, was already a licensed Cosmetologist and managing a salon. One day, I decided, "I'm going to nail school.". Why? Because it was faster than Cosmetology and cost less money! Besides, who wants to do what their older sister is already doing? My father urged me to go for the entire thing and not just nails. He said, "You're going to starve.". This was back in 1994 when nails were just booming in Maine. I got super lucky. My business was off to a great start before all the Discount Salons popped up.

My first gig was working in the salon my sister managed. In my free time, I did lots of nail art and displayed it. I credit my natural artistic ability for drawing in a crowd and building my business. My clients didn't all want the art, but being amazed by my ability made them want to come to me.

Shortly after I got my license, my dad announced he was retiring from "fitting pipes on nuclear submarines" and going to school for COSMETOLOGY! Ya. We were all shocked. His reasoning was, "it is a great business to start. It's cash and carry.". I have to hand it to my dad, he dove right in and was great at it. As graduation got closer he and I began to discuss opening a business together. He would own his hair business. I would own my nail business. I was a little surprised that he'd want to share a space with my "stinky" business. As a teenager he used to complain if I polished my nails in the living room while watching TV. The smell was quickly forgotten by the smell of money!

Right around the time we opened our business, I attended the Boston Beauty Show where I met Tony Cuccio. I'll never forget that first lecture. I couldn't wait to get back to my business and make all kinds of changes that he suggested. Two months later I was at a Star Nail training and became an educator for him.

It wasn't long before I was really busy between my nail business and educating. My dad and I got a lot of local attention and even made the front page of our local newspaper. Later on my sister moved her business to the salon and we all got to work side by side. One day, as I was working on my clients nails, I overheard my dad talking to one of his clients. "If I had smaller hands and better eye sight I'd stop doing hair and just do nails." I couldn't believe my ears. "Elaine sits over there having a good time with her clients, they never cancel when there is a snow storm, they bring her gifts and she makes more money." It was as good as hearing him say, "You know Elaine, I was wrong about telling you not to go to school for nails." Not that I want my dad to be wrong....BUT boy did it feel good to hear I was right.

So fast forward 14 years. Where has the industry gotten all three of us?

Well, my dad used his experience to expand to a different area. He got trained as an educator for Shears and implements. Learned how to sharpen shears, got a mobile van and started a great business going to the local salons and sharpening their shears right then and there. He also carries a great line of shears to sell them as well. The best part about his profitable business, he can do it ANYWHERE. My mom (Nancy) and dad (Bob) live half the year in Florida and the other half in Maine. It's just enough time to see everyone that needs his services and he's gone just long enough that they are due to see him when he returns.

Janis is still doing hair and has the nicest group of clients any stylist could ever have. I still get updates when ever I call along with a "so and so says HI". It's a great career for her. She gets to be the worlds best mother because she is free to book around all the many things our 12 year old Athletic Marissa has going on.

And me, well, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles California (for MY career). I've been working full time in Star Nail International for three years. I get to research and develope new products. Travel to foreign countries and give seminars to Nail Technicians and our Export Customers. I get to see my artwork on the covers of magazines, advertisements, posters and on show billboards! It's been a long hard road, my 14 years. But entirely TOO much fun. How could anyone enjoy the job they do any more than I enjoy what I do?

What's my message? Sure you're a tech at a table now. And if you love that, you can continue to do it and from anywhere in the world. OR skies the limit. You could go on to do much much more. Life has been so rewarding, setting goal after goal and achieving everything I've set out to do. Of course I didn't do it alone. I have soooo many people to thank, who've helped me out along the way. But I always say, "If I can do it, so can you."

It really is a Beautiful Industry!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, October 13, 2008

How To: Get Published

One question that I get asked frequently is, "How do I get published in Nails, Nailpro or Scratch Magazines?". For most nail technicians it is the end all be all for stardom.

I'll never forget the first time I saw my name in a magazine. I was telling the other Nail Techs at how I display my nail art. An editor / lurker of the mailing list contacted me directly and asked me to tell her more. I had a nail table specially built with a sunk in center. The top was glass and allowed me easy access to display my nail art and change my display for each holiday or season. A few months later, there it was... a picture of my table and my name in print. I framed the cover and article then hung it on my wall for all to see. I was so excited I could have built a shrine around it!

So my first suggestion is to utilize networks. The editors are always looking for a story. It is probably one of the hardest parts of their jobs. It can't be easy coming up with topics and content so frequently.'s mailing list or message boards are a good place to start. Another (granted it is based out of England but still a great source for the editors) .

My second suggestion, start a Blog. It only took a couple of days (after creating this blog) for Sree Roy from Nails to contact me about my blog. She stumbled on it (God only knows how!) and wanted to link my blog address to "what the editors are reading". So you KNOW they are out there looking. is owned by Google and offer free hosting. If you do a free blog search you can also find many, many more.

Third, utilize the net. You can go to any Industry Magazine website and see the entire list of editors + email address under "contact us". Send them your ideas and offer a contribution to their article. OR ask them if there is an article that you can offer some content on. You may even be able to get on their mailing list of contacts for future articles.

Send in your images. Either by email or snail mail a disk. If it is a cover you're after, don't be afraid to ask what you need to provide (resume or images) in order to be considered for a cover. All three magazines I've listed (Nails, Nailpro and Scratch) have had or do annual cover contests. Submit your best work. KEEP in mind (while shooting your image) to keep the image taller than wide and imagine where their Magazine name and blurbs will go. Things like this matter in a cover contest. They need the image to work with their layout.

And finally (though I am sure I'll think of more ways) get to the beauty shows and network. The magazines usually have a booth at most of the major shows. Here's your chance to meet face to face and sell your award winning personality that made you a successful nail technician!!!

Nothing is out of your reach. It is just how far you are willing to extend your arm, that will determine your outcome.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photo Shoot Day

I like to call these, field trips. For anyone that has never had to do nails on a photo shoot, I thought this would be a good chance to give an aspiring artist a few bits of advice.

First of all, be expected for a long day. Everyone always has the best intentions of getting done quickly, but this is never the case. Generally, if someone says the shoot will end at 5pm, it can go much later. Just be mentally prepared for that.

Keep a well organized and clean kit. If you have been hired to do manicures, don't stop at manicure products and implements. Be prepared for the worst. Bring as much as you can. I always keep some acrylic and forms just in case a models nails are a disgrace.

Work quickly. It's ok to socialize with the model. In fact, I find they are generally a tad bit nervous (even if they won't admit it). Usually, I'm the first person to spend time with them so it's good to break the ice. But, keep in mind the entire day is a ticking cash register. So get right to work, be efficient but don't cut corners.

Tell your model it's ok to be a whimp. If you are being too aggressive you need to know before you leave a mark on her. I always tell my models to let me know if anything is uncomfortable so I can adjust what I am doing before I leave a mark.

Don't pack up and run out just because you are done. Sometimes, it doesn't stop there. You may be expected to direct her hand modeling if you are comfy and familiar with filling that role. You also may need to fix a break or mistake. Just be prepared for anything.

Be efficient, friendly, helpful and out of the way... I find that these things will get you more work in the future.

So for today's shoot, I had to do three manicures and two pedicures. I think I finished the nails by 12:00 after juggling them with stylists, hair and makeup. I got to the shoot at 8am and got home at 8pm. Keeping in mind it was for our company so I do have to be there to give my opinion for our ads. Our Marketing team was there to discuss changes and suggestions.

All in all....a very fun, positive experience. Add emphasis on the FUN!!!

(writing from Santa Monica, CA yesterday)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh Sorry, That Is My Mess You Stepped In!!

I totally hate myself for today's blog but I just can't help it.

I'm starting to poll my fellow Nail Techs at the mailing list "nailtech". They are a great source of information spread out across North America and some other countries. I started with Nailtech years ago (I think 13 or so) when it had first started. It's grown into an amazing community of well informed, educated techs helping anyone new to the industry (as well as each other).

Anyway it was a response that I got from Nicole Cormier in Winnipeg Canada that got me thinking about the issues American's are faced with our boo boo'd economy. Nicole is located near the border of the United States. So even though she is not IN the US, what's going on here has an impact on her business and how she conducts her business.

When I emailed her back to thank her for taking the time to reply I felt compelled to apologize for the effect my country's leaders AND American's (yes we do need to take some responsibility for our actions) have had on Nicole.

Since I highly doubt the politician's of America are reading my blog, I'd like to address my fellow Americans. In my travels I've gone to some amazing countries. One country I traveled to (a few years ago) was Surinam in South America. It is a tiny country on the north east coast. This country used to be owned and governed by the Dutch. About 20 short years ago they seceded and became their own independant country. Economically speaking, this took a huge toll on the people of Surinam. I was shocked to learn that very few people there can get credit. So, anyone that owns a home, car or business basically paid cash for it. I was so shocked by this. Being raised in a country where credit is given out like sweet treats from Willy Wonka's Factory, I couldn't believe people could accomplish, what seemed the impossible feat of purchasing a home without credit.

Another eye opener was Venezuela. Also in South America. Most residents there can not even get enough credit to own a Mobile phone. If they do have a mobile, they must purchase prepaid minutes. Their version of a "phone booth" was a hoot. Basically, a person that owns a landline phone would toss the wire out the window of their home or place of business, set up a table and umbrella and charge passerby's to use their phone!!!

Where am I going with all of this? As American's we are learning a hard lesson. Too much credit and not enough income = a financial mess. THAT is what has gotten our top financial institutions in the mess they're in.

Learning how to reduce your credit bills should be American's first plan of attack. Our second is pushing our leaders to protect us and the next generation from this financial mess.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Color Acrylic Step by Step

I decided to take a break from the Nation's failing economy and just do a fun techie topic. This is one nail from a set of nails I did for a brochure in Sally's. The brochure is for the ASP Pigment Mixing Kit.

Before you get to step a) be sure and prep nails just like you are doing a normal full set of acrylics.

a) I'm a die hard sculptor. You can get an extra layer of acrylic design onto a nail if you do not have the thickness from a tip. Here I applied a thin yellow free edge.

b) Using an orange I mixed up, I basically started layering balls. When you place the ball you lightly brush down the nail and press the ball out. It leaves what looks like a petal to a flower.

c) Here I did three in a diagonal straight line across the nail from side to side.

d) My second row over laps the first row.

e) Is the completed first row. After I finished the row I used a little bit of glitter acrylic over the yellow free edge to give it some dimension.

f) Is the finished nail.

You should be able to go into any Sally's and ask for the ASP section. The brochure is pretty big and shows the completed full set. I did a rainbow effect across the nails so their color variation is really cool.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


My word of the day is: Frazzled. This state, frazzled, can be brought on by many things. Politics, the price of gas, the rising cost of goods, the domino effect destruction of our financial system beginning with the top financial institutions and ending with the stock market.

Basically, unless you live on a private island or under a rock some where, you've GOT to be concerned right now. I know I've written blogs about making money and increasing business, but it's time to discuss... survival.

What are some things you can do to help your business survive this financial crisis? I have a few suggestions. Pour yourself some chamomile tea, kick off your bunny slippers and get comfy.

Salon and spa business owners first fear is, "How will I keep my customers when they can no longer afford to come?". Consider this. The LAST thing Betty wants to do is give up the ONE thing that makes her feel like she is getting "me" time. However, the guilt of putting survival money into the me time can start to effect her rational thinking. If Betty went to the local drug store and purchased nail products to do her own nails, she'd spend anywhere from $10 - $25. Now, take a look at your menu and ask yourself, "Do I have services on my menu that can offer smaller, less expensive services to keep Betty coming in?" For example, offering an express manicure that schedules for 20 minutes and costs only $10 could be the difference between Betty staying, or going to the local retail store and trying to do her own nails for $10. You'll still essentially be getting $30 an hour. And now, you've created a great service to invite stressed out executives to come in on their lunch break.

Fills. Your clients may start to stretch their fill appointments. How about offering a "maintenance fill"? Let's say Betty comes every two weeks for a fill. But now she's considering every 3 - 4 weeks. Keep some of that business by offering a 20 minute appointment. Remove her polish. Check her nails for lifting or any potential problems. Apply some brush on resin to seal down her acrylic or gel edges. Shorten and shape her nails. Apply polish. Again, you can get $10 for this service and still get her business.

Don't stop trying to get new business. Not everyone is feeling the financial crunch. There will always be the "have's" and the "have not's". I have been chatting with a nail technician on the mailing list. Her name is Athena Elliot. She was sharing some great ideas that she implements to get new business. I was so moved by one of her ideas that I asked if she would allow me to share it with my blog subscribers. She purchased cling on's with her Spa name and contact information. She said that it basically came to about $11 per cling. If you know a printer that makes these you could barter your services for the cost of the cling on's! Then, she offered a discounted rate to her customers that would agree to put the cling on up in the window of their vehicle for 2 -4 weeks. Her clients were so excited at the opportunity to save money and advertise their favorite tech that she has a line of customers waiting for their chance to have the cling on. In the mean time, Athena will be increasing her client base and getting her Spa a LOT of recognition.

Times are tough. And I think they will get tougher before they get easier.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Next Wednesday marks the start of the 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's pretty rare to know or meet someone that hasn't been effected (either directly or indirectly) by some form of Cancer.

The statistics are frightening. I went to The American Cancer Society's website for some statistics for my blog. Here just a few of them from their Breast Cancer Facts and Figures for 2007-2008:

* Excluding Cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for more than 1 on 4 cancers diagnosed in US Women.

* Currently, a woman living in the US has a 12.3% (1 in 8) lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. In the 1970's the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer was 1 in 11.

* White women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than African American woman after the age of 40. In contrast, African American women have a higher incidence rate before age 40 and are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age.

* In 2007, approximately 40,460 women are expected to die from breast cancer. Only lung cancer account for more cancer deaths in women.

* Here is the entire publication: American Cancer Society's Breast Cancer Facts and Figures for 2007 - 2008.

The key is early detection to increase your survival rate. The earlier you detect a mass the higher your chance of survival is.

I'm very proud that Tony has allowed me to bring back my Pink Ribbon Decals and add it as a permanent fixture to the Cina line. It's a small fun way of showing our support in the fight against cancer and support for cancer research. We added them to the shopping cart at where anyone can purchase them. They're a great team addition to anyone doing a walk or benefit fund raiser for Cancer Research.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

in loving memory of Carol Gadbois whom lost her fight against cancer last week. Her humor, nutty antics and laughter will be missed by all of us whom had the honor of knowing and loving her.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why Stop At the Nails?

Everyone cheer! My Cina Catalog is one more peek away from officially DONE and off to the printer. It has been such an undertaking!!!

One of my favorite images (of many) from the catalog, is a set of natural nails I did. I polished the nails a deep, dark purple. Almost black. Next, I accented the polish with a few crystal rhinestones in various sizes. Then, I finished off the look by using my Daisy Rhinestone Decals on the skin instead of on the nails. Here is the actual image.

We are in an age where art is so popular. Shows like L.A. Ink have inspired some of the least likely customers to get body art. So why stop at the nails? If you have a client going to a special function, throw some decals on her hand, fingers or even on her face. The adhesive on today's decals is unbelievable. They will definitely make it through an evening.

The trick is to take a Q-tip and clean the spot with Alcohol. So if you're doing decals on the face, wait until the face is made up. Then take that Q-tip and clean the make-up off that spot with Alcohol and stick your decal. The Alcohol removes the oils on the surface of the skin and makes the decal stay on longer. For things like the rhinestones, you can purchase skin adhesive. It's the same kind of stuff that you use to glue on your eyelashes. Some Indian stores sell this adhesives as well to adhere the bindi (oh I hope I have this term right), the stone on their forehead.

Have fun with it. Make sure you charge appropriately for your service. Time is money!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Network to Fill Your Appointment Book

My Mom, Sister and I have all joined the craze that is "Facebook". My husband and I got a puppy and we all figured it was the best way for us to share pictures from the West Coast to all our family and friends on the East Coast. I had NO idea WHAT I was getting into. Next thing I know, I have friends coming out of the woodwork. People I haven't even seen since High School. I'm getting flair, egg pets and invites to do compatibility tests! No one had warned me about the way Facebook works.

Here's what it is and why I've chosen it for my blog topic. When you create your Facebook account, it asks you questions about where you went to school and where you've lived. It then takes that information and pulls the names of people that have lived near you OR attended your same schools. THEN, like that isn't enough, it'll look at your approved friends and suggest people on their list that 'you might know'. I have to admit, I am a bit overwelmed. My memory isn't what it used to be and trying to recall how I know some of these people can be down right embarrassing.

Here's where sites like Facebook and MySpace can help you out. When I first moved to California I used MySpace to do networking. Elaine's MySpace (it hasn't been updated in forever so please do not hold it against me) I actually met a few photographers and got to do nails on their shoots. Instead of creating a personal type profile, I built a professional profile. You (as a tech, booth renter, salon owner or distributor) can create profiles on either of these sites and utilize their software to get customers to your business. Once you have created the accounts, advertise them. When you advertise, put the address to your MySpace or Facebook on all your ads. If you have a Website address for your business, create a link from the website.

It's fun and it's free!!!!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Don't Spend It All In One Place!

Ok Salon/Spa Owners this one is for you. Technicians fire up that printer and bring this to the establishment owner. 10% Commission on all retail? Are you kidding me? If you are still offering only 10% commission on all retail sales to your employees than stop wondering why your retail sales are so low. It likely has nothing to do with your customers and everything to do with the lack of encouragement in your business.

If Betty sells $100 in retail this week she gets a big whopping $10. Where is the motivation in that? She can get a gallon of gasoline and a Grande Starbucks for her hard work.

Here's what I recommend (and keep an open mind). Give your employee's 20-25% commission. Sure it sounds scary to take less but it will increase the number of sales and inevitably make you more money. Now you've given them an incentive to sell the retail product. Whenever Tony and I bring this up in our seminars the response is the same. "I won't sell for just 10%", and "oh hell ya I will for 20 or 25%!!".

Next, get competitive. Offer up a big prize at the end of the year. Trips are a great incentive. Winning money will just go towards bills or the necessity. A trip is an experience they might not otherwise get. But here is the trick. Don't just offer the trip to your employee with the highest sales, otherwise the others will just give up. What you do is give them a ticket for every $10 sold. The ticket then goes into a big fish bowl. Now everyone has a chance to win. However, the highest selling employee will have a better chance of winning because they'll have more tickets in the fish bowl.

Implement these two ideas and I guarantee you'll at 'least' double your retail sales.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Raising the Perception of Your Spa or Services

So, I'm going to give you a quick and easy way to raise the perception of your Spa and/or Services. Sanitation is a big deal right now in our industry. Clients have grown smarter (almost over night) when it comes to sanitation.

It started with a Salon in Watsonville, California and their Spa Chairs for Pedicures. Unfortunately, they were not cleaning the jets properly and started spreading a skin form of tuberculosis to their clients. Basically, their legs and feet looked as if they had horrible bug bites. The worst thing about it was it took over a year to clear up.

Then, Paula Abdul got a botched manicure and sported a HUGE bandage while judging on American Idol.

This is where I have one (of many suggestions) to help your clients have a higher perception of your Spa and Services. Natural Nail Client Guard from Star Nail International. It's basically a Sterile bag (commonly used for metal impliments to go into an autoclave) with your disposible impliments (file, wood stick, scrub brush and fizz ball to soak in). Just opening that bag in front of your client at the start of your services will give your client peace of mind. She will know that you are not reusing these impliments from client to client. When your service is over, you give her the impliments to take home or throw away.

Let's break it down financially. You are already required to purchase all these items to do your service. That comes out of your pocket. Now, with Natural Nail Client Guard, for little over a dollar (your cost) you can either a) work it into the price of your service and therefore costs you nothing or b) mark the cost up a little and sell it to your client. Now you are saving money on items you would otherwise need to purchase.

Back to those pouches for autoclaves. Right now, only Texas is required to use the Autoclave. But you can still use the pouches to raise your perception. If you see ten clients in a day, keep ten pushers and ten nippers. At the end of the day, wash your impliments in soap in water, soak them in your hospital grade disinfectant for no less than ten minutes (rinse them), dry them all off and then individually bag and seal each set. Tomorrow when your clients arrive, you are pulling out a fresh santized set of impliments and opening the bag in front of your clients. Did you know that hospital grade disinfectant is corrosive to the skin? If you are taking your impliments right out of your solution and using them on your client you could be causing more harm than good. You must rinse the solution off the impliments before using them. By waiting until the end of the day to do this all at once, you're also saving time. And we all know, "time is money".

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rhode Island Beauty Show

Another successful RG Shakour show has come to a close. Tony and I have been in Rhode Island giving our many seminars. Coming to the Northeast is always a home coming for me. RG Shakour is where I taught most of my Star Nail Classes.

Without a doubt, they have the best team and it's aways fun to see them.

Yesterday Tony and I conducted our all day seminar. Today was the show, more classes and an industry leaders round table. I was so impressed with my Northeasters. They came to the classes in droves and they asked great questions of us at the round table. These were motivated techs looking to expand their services and increase their income.

I only wish the techs were so hungry for information all over the United States.

I'll apologize now for such a short blog. I do have a nice list of topics for my next few and will get right on that this week. It's been a long weekend and I am looking forward to a nice relaxing evening with my family (Mom, sister Janis and neice Marissa) whom drove all the way down from Maine to see me.

(writing from Providence, Rhode Island today)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Nails Are Ruined!!!!

Every time I meet someone new, and they find out I am a licensed nail technician, the conversation turns into a diagnosis of their nails and suggestion of treatment. But, the one thing I hear the MOST is, "I had (insert Acrylics or Gels) nails and they ruined my nails!"

So I decided to talk to the end user today, the client. I am going to clear up some myths and give you the facts.

First, all of the products our company manufactures must comply, not only with United States Standards but also those of the countries we mean to ship to. Europe has the strictest guidelines with regards to chemicals of any nation. Given that bit of information, YOU (the client), can rest assured that we do not have chemicals in our products that could melt, dissolve or thin out your nail plate. The best way to prove this to anyone is to take a good size nail clipping, place it in a jar, fill the jar with Monomer (or gel), put a cover on it, and leave it soaking for days. The nail will never dissolve.

What does this mean to you? If it isn't the chemicals hurting your nails, than you are left with two options. 1) You were really rough on your nails and broke them off OR bit them off or 2) you nail technician did way too much prep filing to your natural nail. Techs need to take responsibility for that. They also need to be responsible when it comes to removing the Acrylic or Gel from the nails. Tools like nippers that cut the plastic and yank on the nails will do a lot of damage to the nail.

Next, "my nails need to breath!". In my last anatomy class, I'm pretty sure that the nail plate didn't have a set of tiny little lungs. The structure of your nail will not change. It is made out of dead cells. So thinking that a week out of your set of nails will change the structure of your natural nails is just foolish. Only the new growth will be affected. It will grow out without any filing done to it.

Oh and that thin flexible nail you are left with when you take off that set of nails...again...not thinner. What's happened is: the moisture that usually comes up from your nail bed, through your nail plate and evaporates got trapped under your enhancement. When you remove it, the first 30 minutes following, your nails are super moist and flexible. Unfortunately, that moisture evaporates after that 30 minutes and leaves behind a really dry, brittle nail. That is why cuticle oil or nail treatments are so important. Think of your nails like a kitchen sponge. When it is moist it is very soft and flexible. Once it dries out it becomes very ridged and brittle.

It is very important to know the facts about getting enhancements, maintaining enhancements and finding the right nail technician who will care for your nails.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Bling or Not To Bling?

I remember, ohhh about 3 or so years ago, MTV making a huge announcement that the word "Bling" was being retired. I remember because I thought it was hysterical that they would even make such a production out of the word.

Regardless, hundreds of thousands of people haven't gotten the memo. Look around you the next time you're at the mall. Tweens, Teens and even Moms are throwing a rhinestone on any and everything they can get their hands on. YES even their nails.

Rhinestones, in my opinion, are a Technicians best retail item. I'm not saying sell them by the packs (but you never know who will buy them to put on their own phone). I'm saying add them to your service.

Think of it this way, if you charged .10 cents US per stone used on a set of nails, and you used only 5 stones per nail, you've just increased your profit by $5.00! Pretty cool for something so easy and well loved.

My favorite kit in our Cinapro line that I LOVE to sell, is the Cina Rhinestone Decoration Kit. Watch the math on this baby. Betty the nail tech purchases this kit for $4.95. In the kit are 400 rhinestones. If Betty uses all the stones on her clients and charges .10 per stone... she's made a whopping $40.00 off of her $4.95 investment!!! That's a profit of $35.05!!! Helllooooooo!! Just try making that kind of markup on a bottle of shampoo or a bottle of nail polish.

Here's another one for you... 10 Gross Crystal Rhinestones from Cinapro. 10 Gross = 1440 stones. Betty's cost is $9.95. Again, if Betty charges only .10 per stone, she's made $144.00!!! That's a profit of 134.05!!!

Now here's my super speedy trick for applying rhinestones to anything and everything that will sit still long enough. A Stick of Spagetti. Yup... Mama Cuccio's pasta. If you take a dry stick of spagetti and dip it into water for about three seconds, the moisture activates the starch in the pasta making the end sticky. You can then use it to pick up those tiny stones and apply them to the nail (or anything else). If you get any glue or topcoat on the end of your stick, simply snap it off and redip. You're rockin and ready to fly through a full set and rake in the money.

Profits like these get me excited enough to sing about the Bling!!! The heck with MTV!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do You Test on Animals?

It's one of the questions that I am asked every once in a while. My favorite answer is, "Oh no we test on Elaine.". psst that is me. Our labs know what chemicals are safe and what chemicals are not safe. There is no question or experimentation in order for us to make our products. So if this is a concern for you, rest assured, we do not test on Animals. However, an occasional call worrying about me is ok too. haha

I do want to give you an idea of just how complicated our Quality Control is. First, our chemist creates what is known as a lab sample. That lab sample is brought to me to undergo testing. Viscosity, color, clarity, and performance all come into consideration. If any one of these is off the product is rejected and the chemist is back to the drawing board. Once I've approved our lab sample, it is on to production. I then receive what is known as the production sample. This sample represents what will be arriving to our warehouse. My job on the production sample, is to make sure the it matches the lab sample. Once it passes it is on to filling.

Our company and I take Quality Control very seriously. Because we batch code our products, we can pin point any possible issues that could arise after shipment.

So the next time you are opening a jar of Star Nail, Cuccio, All Season or Cina products, rest assured, no animals were harmed in the creation and your products have been checked and rechecked for quality.

(writing from Valencia, Ca today)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who Has the Time?

One of my favorite topics in Tony Cuccio's International Seminar is how "Woman's Lib was the worst thing for the American Woman.". Imagine a room FULL of woman and one of very few men just said that. It's quite comical the glares he gets.

Let's take a look at why he says it and how he ends up getting out of his seminar alive.

Pre-equality. Jane is home all day long taking care of the kids and the house. When Tarzan gets home he has a ice cold drink waiting for him. While Tarzan drinks his drink, Jane finishes preparing dinner and keeping the kids off Tarzan, "whom has had a hard day". Lucky Tarzan.

Today. Jane's day starts off at the crack of dawn. She must wake the kids up, prepare them (and Tarzan) breakfast, get them dressed and off to school (er work for Tarzan). Then, in the time she has left, she gets herself together and rushes off to her full time job where she is treated equally. Sometime after or around 5pm when Jane gets home, she still makes Tarzan and the kids dinner, helps them with their homework and gets them off to bed on time. At this point, Jane is lucky if she can stay awake for her only 'me' time.

Does this sound fair? Or equal?

So after a day like this who has the time to get the things done that Jane needs to do. If you are running your own salon, spa or booth renting I do have a small solution and it is one of my favorites. When that quiet time starts, put on your most comfortable pajamas, fuzzy slippers and grab that glass of wine. Put on some soft music and light some candles..... have I got your attention? Imagine doing your shopping like this! You have to keep that product coming into your business so that you can continue to do services and retail. Why not take advantage of internet shopping and do it in the comfort of your own pj's? This way, you're still taking time for yourself AND getting that necessary work done.

Otherwise, who has the time?

The company I work for just revamped the websites. We have (nail art), (profession nail products and accessories) and (all your spa needs). It's amazing how easy shopping on line can be now. Streamline carts with simple catagories make it quick and easy to find what you are looking for, high resolution images for the window shopper in you and a check out so easy that even your 80 year old grandma could do it. Even though security has come a LONG way, we actually process the sale inhouse, to keep nosey computers from listening in on your transactions.

So, while I know internet shopping will never replace a fun afternoon with your shopping is an awesome tool for those days when you just can't find the time!!!!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Would You Know If You Are Out of Date?

Remember when computers first came out? My first was a Commodore 64. I remember typing lines of code for hours just so I could hit one button and see words scroll down the screen. Computers have come a long way since the Commodore 64. Imagine how out of date a programmer would be in this day and age if he was still using that Commodore 64.

It is the same in the Nail Industry. If you aren't active in continuing education, you 'are' a Commodore 64.

I've met a lot of technicians in my day. I'm still shocked when I meet one that is still using the same nail system that they used in Nail School 20 years ago. Honestly, it is because of techs like them, that we (Star Nail International) still manufacture our original acrylic system (one of many systems we carry, but definitely the oldest). We haven't even changed the chemistry (in this system) in 20 years! What are you people thinking?

"If it isn't broke don't fix it.", is what I always heard growing up. But that doesn't mean, "if it is old and still works don't upgrade it." !!! Technology has changed in the Nail Industry. Tools of our trade have been perfected. Chemical compositions have changed creating more light weight, yet stronger artificial nails with tighter bonds. Even the techniques we learned in school have become somewhat obsolete.

If you do not attend beauty shows or product classes, I highly recommend it. There is so much information to be learned that will save you time and make you more money. Not to mention, taking your nail style from Granny to Great! Just like clothing can be outdated so can artificial and natural nail style.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Most often, it's the driver not the car!

When teaching a class on electric nail filing vs hand filing, this is my favorite saying, "Most often, it's the driver not the car!". If you are driving along and you go off the road down an escalator, is it the cars fault or the driver? Granted a malfunction could cause the car to go off, but for my example we will blame the driver. So to say that e-files are bad is like blaming the car.

"But the manicurist that does my nails uses a drill and now my nails are ruined!". Have you ever seen erosion from a constant drip, drip, drip of water? Even something so tiny as a drip can eventually cause damage! If you are causing damage or your technician is causing damage using an e-file than it is 100% the fault of the tech.

There are many mistakes technicians make when using a e-file. The first myth is that you need to have it set to the highest speed to work. Today's e-files have great torque in place of speed. Torque is just how strong your e-file is as it rotates. If you lightly touch the bit to the nail and it stops spinning, that is low torque. If you can put your bit right to the end of the nail and use the e-file to shorten long acrylic length and it does not stop spinning, that is high torque. Torque is a great thing, because it means that you do not need to work with high speeds. It's the friction at high speeds that makes the nail hot and burn the client. And. if you are working at high speeds, you need only a moment of bad judgment to do serious harm. My e-file is always set at a low speed unless I need to shorten the nail.

Bits are the second cause of damage. Most techs think that Carbide bits are the way to go. I used to. They shave a lot of acrylic off a nail. However you can only work in one direction causing lots of flat passes that still need to be fixed with a hand file. Now, for me, there is nothing better than a well made diamond bit. I can work in a side to side motion filing in both directions. This gets twice as much work done in the same amount of time. Diamond bits are much more forgiving.

Lastly, looking into a really good e-file oil will not only cut out the friction but also protect the skin surrounding the nail. And, as an added bonus it eliminates dust that a tech would normally inhale. It is basically a pure oil. No color or fragrance. Dyes and fragrances can damage the machinery in the hand piece. Be advised, you only use these oils to 'finish' file not to prep. Otherwise the oil can ruin your application and cause lifting.

Before you turn an evil eye on an e-file, consider this, a tech with little to no experience with hand filing can do just as much damage as a tech with an e-file.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are You Full Service?

Some drastic changes are happening in the USA Nail Industry. Back when I first started doing nails, acrylic nails was very popular. Back then I could get $65 for a full set and $35- 40 for a fill. Acrylic nails were something that only middle to upper class customers could afford.

We opened ourselves up to the Discount Nail Salon. By creating such a high priced market, we just opened the door and said, "come on in and take over". We gave discount salons plenty of room to come down on their prices and under cut us. Of all the countries I have traveled I can say, England is on it's way to having our same problems. Cost of service is still high there and their door is wide open!!

But, the positive side of this... it quadrupled the industry as a whole. Now, people that could not afford to have their nails done ARE having their nails done.

This has brought on a very important social change. If a woman had on a beautiful set of pink and whites (say 14 years ago) she could easily be looked upon as 'having money'. Now, just anyone can have beautiful pink and whites at a discounted price.

So how has this affected the Industry? More and more clients are asking for Spa Manicure (and Pedicure) services as well as Gel services. To have long beautiful natural nails has become the upper and middle class service. It takes time, commitment and caution to maintain a long natural nail.

My question (in the title), "Are you a full service tech?". Do you do Acrylics, Gels, Fabrics (Fiberglass, Silk and Linen) and several levels of Manicure / Pedicure? If you said no to any of these services you really need to rethink your actions. More and more clients are going to walk through the door of your Salon or Spa and request Gel. Will you be prepared to service them? Or will you turn them away only to feed your competitions business? Seek out continuing education and learn these services. Practice and promote them. Use, "I'm a full service tech" or "full service Spa" on your marketing literature. Keep the products on hand. And be prepared to provide the service.

It's all about getting them in the door. Once you have them, you can start to educate them on the services you prefer. By then they will trust your skill and knowledge and consider your suggestions.

In a time when the economy is painful and the dollar is so weak, every customer counts towards keeping your business alive.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Clients Would Never Wear That!!

"My clients would never wear that!!". When ever I hear this statement my instant reply is, "Bull! If you really believe that, you are missing out on some serious money.".

I got my start in the nail industry in Maine. If you have never heard of Kennebunkport, Maine... let me paint a picture for you. First, George Bush Sr. has a prominent summer home there. Some of the richest business people, movie stars and musicians own summer homes there as well. The remaining locals, are an interesting breed. They're down to earth (we're talking about Maine here) but VERY conservative. My salon that I owned with my dad was just "a stones throw away" from KBP.

At a very early age, I discovered I had a natural gift for painting and art. It didn't take long before I was painting anything and everything on a nail while in school. My first job was in a hair salon in Kennebunk (not the port). I built my entire clientel by displaying my little works of art under my glass table top. Back then most of my artwork was requested for the holidays. My clients were proud to have me hand paint designs and wanted no part of quick stick ons.

Later in my career I discovered color and glitter acrylic. I even created and made my own glow in the dark acrylic. And guess what? 90% of my business was wearing it. Maybe the most conservative didn't have it on their fingers, but you better believe they had simple designs with crystal rhinestones on their toes.

My only mistake back then, was I was too detailed. I needed to book more time on my appointments in order to do my nail art. I wasn't as business minded then, as I am now. If I were back in my little Maine Salon today, I would use the amazing array of designs that stick on fast. Time is money folks. If you can add designs without adding time to your books, you've just increased your income.

The line of nail art that I have done for my company "Cina and Cinapro" has all been created so that the nail art can either go on top of polish or even inside acrylic or gel. So Stickers take on an amazing roll in a set of acrylic nails. You can do a design set of permanent acrylic nail art in less time than it takes to do a set of Pink and White french...and make MORE money!!

Have I got your attention yet? Now for any of you that think your clients won't go for it, you're not even giving them a chance with that mode of thinking. Try introducing them to something very soft and simple. Crystal Rhinestones are a given. Do a little five petal flower on their big toe and put a rhinestone in the middle. Before you know it, that nail art will have a permanent place in their service. But the first step is up to you. Unless you expose your clients to something new, they'll never know it exists.

So what's the state of the Nail Art Segment of the Nail Industry? Well, 14 years ago my clients were coming to my salon with their little girls. After mom's manicure, I would paint their little girls nails and add nail art. She is now grown up with her own disposable income and has already been exposed to nail art. It's not a stigma to her.

It's up to you. Keep thinking they'll never go for it and watch. In the coming years as nail art gets increasingly popular...your clients will be going to the competition for it... and you'll be losing money!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Right now you have got to be asking yourself where I am going with my Blog today. Last week I picked up my new iPhone 3G. For those of you that do not know me very well, I am a gadget junkie. My real reason, for switching companies and getting the iPhone, was to have mobile service in all these countries I travel to. It's pretty isolating to travel to another part of the world by yourself and be cut off from the part of the world you know. But the Gadgets....HUGE bonus.

The first thing I immediately hated and was very disappointed in, that the screen did not react the way my Palm Pilot or my other PDA Phones did. I couldn't tap the screen with my beautiful, pink and white acrylic nails. DAMN you Apple for making the screen work by skin touch and not the nail (or stylus).

What's this got to do with Misogyny? Well, for those of you that don't know what Misogyny means:

–noun hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.

Now that's pretty harsh to say about a company that made this wonderful gadget and decided only short nail people will enjoy touching the screen. Surely, the men with big fingers have got to be feeling our pain as well. Anyway, Erica Watson-Currie from Newport Beach, California (no relation to me btw) spoke with Times writer Michelle Quinn and said, "Considering ergonomics and user studies indicating that men and women use their fingers and nails differently, why does Apple persist in this misogyny?" adding that she's reluctant to cut her nails for the purpose of using her iPhone. "It's the machine's job to accommodate its users, not the other way around."

Compromise? Quinn actually spoke to ergonomic consultant Anthony Andre who came up with a compromise: nail polish that can interact with the iPhone screen like your fingertip does. Quinn's name suggestions, 'Touch Screen Taupe' and ' iPhone Indigo'.

On behalf of all us ladies that don't wear polish, I say, "Booooooo". Apple, come down out of that tree to the real world and fix your damn screen. If Palm can make it happen 10 years ago, so can you!!!!

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Real Deal about Nail Strengtheners and Hardeners

From time to time I'm going to take my blog down to the Client level. I would love to know that a nail client is using this Blog as a tool to learn what is good or bad, just as much as the techs.

What makes a strong nail? Is it thickness? Is it firmness?

The Reality of most Nail Strengtheners and Hardeners is, they do nothing to change the thickness of your nail. Truthfully, the only way to do this is by ingesting healthy food, taking vitamins and drinking lots of water.

So why do you notice nearly instant results? Well, the formaldehyde (and usually there is a high concentration of this to get the results) and Toluene basically suck the moisture out of your nails and leave them dry and ridged. This fools you into thinking, "My nails are stronger and thicker!". However, there is a very frightening side of this practice that you really need to know about. Both formaldehyde and toluene can cause adverse reactions. You can suddenly become allergic due to exposure to the high concentration that is found in most strengtheners and hardeners. Once you're allergic, you'll likely never be able to wear polish again because you'll be allergic to the TINY amount of formaldehyde that is used to preserve polish. Another end result of the over exposure to these chemicals, your nail (or nail plate) can actually release from the nail bed eventually falling off.

That is why most companies sell their Strengtheners and Hardeners in three level systems. They don't want you to stick with the formula high in chemical for fear of the reaction. Only problem is, most customers don't want to switch to the maintenance formula. They feel, "it's working, why should I switch?".

It is because of all these scary reasons that responsible companies, like Cuccio Natural, have changed to 'Strength in Flexibility'. By taking out the chemicals (formaldehyde and toluene) and replacing them with Horse Tail Grass extract , we are now able to stop nails from dehydrating. Think of it this way, when your nail is dry and rigid it is also brittle. One good hit and you're going to lose that beautiful free-edge you've been working so hard to grow. Forte with Horse Tail Grass locks the moisture in the nail creating a strong yet flexible free-edge. Now, when you hit your nail, it will bend and flex back. The greatest bit is, no adverse reactions to harmful chemicals due to long term use.

So the next time you are shopping for a really good nail strengthener, check the ingredients. If it contains Formaldehyde and/or Toluene, save your nails and just don't go there.

If you are interested in more information about Cuccio Naturale's Forte or any other Cuccio Products just goto the website or call the toll free number 1.800.782.7624. Customer Service can provide you all the necessary information to get Cuccio Products.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fill In the Gaps

Not just the gaps in those grown out full sets, but the gaps in your schedule. What are you doing to fill in openings last minute? I wanted to use todays Blog to share an idea that I learned about. Being internet savvy can help you fill in those last minute appointments. There is a business on the net called "Constant Contact" or . They help with email marketing and surveys. However, there is one vital area that techs could utilize.

You basically create a mailing list of your customers email addresses. The night before your work day use the mass mailing system to send your clients "last minute openings". You'd be surprised how many clients may not call you assuming you are already fully booked. You can even take this idea a step further and offer a discount on last minute appointments by including a code they can use when they call to book (to prove they got the email and called because of it).

There are so many other ways you can utilized Constant Contact. You could create a weekly newletter to educate your clients on why your services are so much better than your competition. Remember to say positive things about yourself and your services while avoiding negative remarks about the competition. You can also educate your clients on things like diversion or MMA. Keeping your clients informed of what is safe and what isn't will also keep them loyal for life. Tell them why your products, techniques won't damage your nails.

Lastly, use that survey. Find out what your clients like and dislike. Being able to handle their comments will make you a better tech, booth renter or salon owner.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Reality of International Travel for Work

This is what my desk looks like. I remember my first opportunity to travel for work. I was still living in Maine and in my salon working on clients when I got a call from my friend Lysa. She was getting ready to travel to Amsterdam, Holland for a beauty show and found out she was one educator short for the event. Being that I had a passport and flexible schedule I offered to help. The downside was, I had to leave NOW. So in a hurry I handed my appointment book to my sister Janis, to call all my clients for that day and those that followed as I ran home to power pack.

I was on an international flight that night. Because the flight was booked the only available seat was in first class. Now first class on international is quite different than national flights. Your seat is like a baby basinet . It could be layed out flat to sleep while the hood gave you some privacy. They also give you several course meals and call you "Miss Watson" for everything.

The trip was a success and I loved every minute of it. I'll always thank my lucky stars for the path my career has taken.... however.... here's the reality. Now, when I travel, it's usually anywhere from 4-7 days. A typical trip consists of two countries.

Day 1 Travel day. For anyone that does not do this on a regular basis, this day really stinks. This is where I collect lots of mystery bruises as I am constantly tossing luggage around. Once you are through security and in your seat on the plane, you have a bit of a sigh of relief. Typically, we get in to our rooms either super early in the morning and goto our customers office. Or late at night.

Day 2 or day of travel. Business meeting at our customer's office, educator training, which continues into a dinner where, hopefully, I don't fall asleep in my soup due to the time difference.

Day 3 is the Day we conduct our seminar. This usually is from 9-5 and winds up ending in another dinner.

Day 3 or 4 is travel to the next country and ends the day with office meeting, educator time and dinner. Again, not falling asleep in my dinner is a big accomplishment. Part of the job is pushing back the exhaustion and giving our customers our full attention.

Day 5 another Seminar.

Day 6 Travel day which results in arriving home on day 7. On one of my most recent trips, traveling home from Romania through London took a total of 28 hours!

Does this sound fun? Note the lack of time for being a tourist. Most of my images of foreign countries are shot from my hotel room window or a moving car to our next destination. I will never forget a comment our Rep in England (Stuart or as I affectionately call him, Stewie) made when I asked if we'd have time to see some of Romania. I've always wanted to travel there and hoped to see Dracula's castle. "You will have just enough time to blow your nose and take a wee." Don't you just love the English? Wee! I said I would forgo blowing my nose.

Lastly, while we are gone, there are no elves that come to do all the work that is waiting for our return. It just piles up. The picture I chose for today's blog is exactly how I feel about my desk right now. I can scarcely type without getting Post It notes stuck to my arms. I have 200 emails in my inbox to return and a Nail Art line to manage.

And you know what? I wouldn't change it for all the tea in China.

(happy to be writing from Valencia, CA today)

Monday, August 18, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

The lengths I will go to for an internet connection. I'm sitting here in the Hotel Lobby. It's wifi and it's free so I honestly can't complain. But man how we can take such a luxury for granted (in America). I have to watch my little wifi computer graphic before I can get or send information. So I hover over the send button on my email as I watch that little computer. Sometimes it takes a few minutes too. So now I'm like this freak willing the connect to stay long enough to hit send.

No business chat today. I've just finished several long days of business in Panama and I just don't have the urge to make another suggestion on how to increase your business. haha. I'll get back into that when I get home.

This is my first time to Panama. It's very beautiful here. My hotel is smack dab in the middle of the rain forest but not far from downtown Panama complete with skyscrapers. While we've gotten a lot of work accomplished, I have to admit it's be a fun trip. Once a year Tony and I get together with our Export customers from Central and South America. We call it our annual Summit. What's amazing is how all our customers from many different countries come together to do business with us, but end up making personal and professional friendships. It's really inspiring to see them helping one another and offering suggestions to grow their business.

For anyone that has never attended anything like this let me give you an idea of one of my days.
Wake up, shower and get all of my beauty regimen done (early), talk, talk, talk, talk and talk some more. Throw some meals in there with more talk, talk, talk...then off to bed (late). Now multiply that times 3 days. As always, while offering all the knowledge I've learned from Tony for so many years, I've learned some more from each of our Customers here about the things they are facing in each of their countries.

I did get about three hours today to be a tourist. I went on a great walk with Claudia (from our office whom came on this trip with us). I got to see three Monkeys in person for the first time in my life. Claudia and I even reached out and touched the sweetest little female Monkey. Call us nutty but it was a really neat experience. pray for me and my connection. I'm about to send this one off. I'll have more blogs to post from here complete with pictures once I am back to a serious connection.

(writing from Panama, Central America today)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Consumer Terrorism

I bet the title of this entry got your attention! About seven years ago I was working back in Maine in the salon I owned with my Dad. At the time he was reading this book and would not stop talking about it. It was called "Consumer Terrorism: How to Get Satisfaction When You're Being Ripped Off" written by Elinor Burkett. Without realizing it I learned a lot as I listened to him tell each hair client about this book. In a nutshell, it teaches you (the consumer) how to stand up for yourself when you are not being treated fairly. My favorite ditty that I have used many times, "Now, what are you going to do for me?" and then zip your lip. It forces them to come up with a fair solution to your problem. It's worked for me numerous times.

Recently, a group of co-workers and I ordered lunch from a delivery service because we were just all too busy to run out. Unfortunately, they got one of the lunches wrong. It became an interesting topic of our lunch conversation. Jill said, "It happens to me all the time. If they screw up I usually just give up going to that place." It got me thinking. How many times could this have happened in your Salon or Spa? Maybe, if Jill had read the book my Dad did, she may have looked at the situation differently. She may very well have ended up with a free lunch next time and the establishment might not have lost a customer.

Are you keeping the lines of communication with your clients open? And I don't mean all the juicy details of their sorted divorce or crazy families. I mean, do you portray yourself to your customer as open to criticism? Or does it peeve you to the point that maybe you give a little attitude back?

The Customer is always right. What a HUGE pill to swallow sometimes! But it could be the difference between keeping a client or losing your business. Keeping a smile and talking calmly to even the most irate customers can win them over. I do it ALL the time at Star Nail. And don't forget, it's not always what you say, but how you listen.

In closing, I have one more little story that happened just last night. I went to my favorite Spa to have my mani / pedi (yes I go get it done now, I'm just way TOO busy to do it myself!!) and I happened to have my attention swayed to the chair next to me. A woman had her pedicure finished and flip flops on. Yet she still required her Nail Tech to tote over his electric nail file to work on her nails at the pedicure chair. Forget ergonomics, this poor guy had to work in the least comfortable condition. She kept blowing under one nail and asking him to keep filing underneath to get some dirt. Five times she blew and handed that nail back. I wanted to smack her for him. To his credit, he remained calm and sweet. I wanted to pat him on the back when it was all over.

Use your judgment wisely. This blog is about giving good customer service. "Not getting taken advantage of" is a whole new blog.

(writing from Valencia, CA today)