Welcome to the Precision Nails Blog

As a salon owner and licensed manicurist, my perspective on the nail industry could not be more practical. While some may be offended by the opinions expressed, please understand that I want to share information and stimulate discussion. Whether you want your nails done or do nails professionally, I hope you find this blog both useful and interesting.

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Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Finding Your Nail Niche

Article Published in Stylist Magazine, October 2012

Assuming that you’re interested in the nail industry and have skills/talents/abilities worthy of compensation, how do you find your niche? What are your goals, and how much are you willing to compromise to reach them? What experiences will benefit you most? Our industry encompasses so many different occupations: licensed service providers (manicurists, estheticians, cosmetologists, etc.), salon owners, chemists, manufacturers, distributors, educators, consultants, marketers, event organizers, publishers, writers, web designers and more. Determining which situation suits you can be a challenge, but rather than be discouraged, it’s best to view the process as a journey of personal and professional growth.

As with any journey, we all start somewhere, and for many of us that place was beauty school. The beauty school experience, while shared, can vary considerably; some schools provide an excellent education and prepare students for the realities of salon work, while others do not. That’s to be expected because beauty schools exist to provide the basic knowledge necessary to pass a licensing examination (written and practical, in most states). Given the amount of time and money invested, it’s not the most efficient way to learn, but we need to make the best of it if we want to be licensed manicurists/nail technicians. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual student to seek the additional education, training and experiences to succeed as a licensee.

Immediately after beauty school, new licensees have options; some licensees feel prepared not only for the realities of salon work, but for the responsibilities of salon ownership. If only it were that simple. As a licensee and salon owner who’s never worked as a salon employee, I can understand the appeal. While in beauty school, I definitely planned to work for myself. However, I can also attest to the unlikelihood of success. Even with resources (primarily money), inexperienced salon owners and manicurists struggle to provide quality services, build a loyal clientele and maintain adequate cash flow. That’s the reason why I encourage aspiring salon owners and newly licensed manicurists to seek salon employment as their first position after beauty school, even if being an employee is not their ultimate goal. Why repeat the same mistakes made by others when you could be learning and earning without significant financial risk?

For every manicurist who complains that they cannot find a decent salon to work in, there’s a salon owner who could complain about finding a decent manicurist to lease space to or employ. When I began my business, I had no intention of hiring employees, but now I cannot imagine operating my salon without them. Expanding my business and hiring employees has been an essential part of my professional growth. While finding qualified employees isn’t easy, craigslist.com has proven the most affordable (it’s free) and effective (it’s accessible). Unlike other salon owners that don’t name their salons in their jobs posting, I include mine because it’s not a secret:

We're expanding! Precision Nails, the exclusive nails-only salon at The Crossroads Carmel, needs a licensed manicurist to join our staff part-time (Fridays and Saturdays to start, more days/hours may be added later). Must have valid California manicuring license, ability to learn and strong communication skills. No salon experience or clientele necessary. All training, products and clients provided.
  • Learn advanced techniques from an expert educator.
  • Perform innovative natural nail and gel enhancement services in our elegant salon.
  • Work with premium products (Light Elegance, Essie, Mehaz, etc.)
  • Take pride in working in a sanitary environment.
  • Become proficient using STX, the award-winning salon management software.
  • Enjoy the support of a proactive owner, friendly coworkers and our loyal clients.
Please email resume to apply; NO phone calls. Compensation is listed as $10/hour (guaranteed) plus tips, AND retail and service commissions.

If an applicant responds to this posting with a phone call and/or salon visit, I don’t consider them. That may seem harsh, but following directions is important. Besides, communication via email lets me know if the applicant can write reasonably well. Of course, any resumes submitted also give me insight. Note that grammar mistakes, an invalid license, and/or questionable work history (for example, 10+ different positions in 15 years of work experience!) will eliminate applicants from consideration. Few of my colleagues enter the industry and remain in the same position throughout their nail careers; circumstances change and opportunities present themselves. But I prefer to hire manicurists that have limited experience and no clientele for a reason. My employees provides services according to salon procedures on clients of Precision Nails. Applicants who want to do their thing can open their own salons.

With the recent hiring of two new employees, it was finally time to invest in custom magnetic name badges. Why would I want everyone identified? First, there may be only four of us, but our first names aren’t common. (We use our legal, given names instead of glamorized or simplified “salon” names.) Second, while we work within the same salon, wear the same style of uniform and provide the same services, I want my employees to distinguish themselves and be treated as individual professionals. For now, they’ve found their niche as my employees and I wish them the best, no matter what their future holds.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.