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)