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)