HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NAIL TECH

So it’s a customer one today! What to look for when looking for a nail tech… Because there are so many of us right?

It would be easy to assume that all manicurists are created equal, especially when many of them appear in plain sight on the high street, but this is simply not true.

In the old days, nail education only took one path which was through NVQ beauty at college, but the modern world and the invention of gel polish, which created a huge boom in the industry coupled with a supply issue that didn’t meet the new demand from customers, has lead to a watering down of skill with techs being “educated” in an afternoon….. or worse, online.

Anyone who knows anything about anything can surely guess that an afternoon is not enough time to learn the intricacies of the anatomy and physiology and contraindications of a nail service, let alone master the practical skills, but there are thousands out there practising on real clients like you.

The boom in the internet has also lead to the ease for people to access cheaply made Chinese factory products, and this, coupled with a lack of education are all contributing factors to the allergy crisis in the nail industry. Nail chemicals are strong chemicals that should be used with extreme care!

So how do you as a paying client navigate this minefield and settle with a quality tech?

Well, here are a few suggestions. Firstly, ask them about their education- any good nail tech will be happy to tell you about their training and show you certificates and proof of insurance on request. How long have they been qualified? This shows their level of experience.

Ask them about the products- are they knowledgeable about what they’re using? Is it a brand name that you are aware of? Do the labels contain lots of information? Ask them where it’s manufactured.

Are they using a quality lamp? Lamps must be matched to gel systems so look for matching branding.

Does their equipment look clean? Feel free to ask about their sanitisation process if you can’t physically see any signs of barbicide etc.

Avoid Non-Standard Salons at all costs! NSS (sometimes incorrectly labelled Chinese or Asian nail bars) are the American style nail shops on every high street. They use extremely dangerous MMA acrylic, e-file the nail plate, have no qualifications or insurance, their staff rarely speak any English, they charge extra for gel and then apply acrylic anyway, their staff are often trafficked and forced to work in the sex/drug trade by night and for no pay, the smell is overwhelming and we have all seen serious infections caused by them, on occasions leading to amputations!

There are no nail police and nobody to stop these rogue traders so you have to do your own research! It’s such a minefield with huge disparity in quality of service, but remember you usually get what you pay for in this life! Finding a good nail tech is much like finding a hair stylist you trust: once you find one, never let them go!

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How do you cope when you're ill?

This is another business post (rather than nail specific) following on from my time management and organisation entry. I was OFF SICK last month for 3 days and it inspired me to write about how we deal with the inevitable unexpected time off as self-employed business people.

I’m one of those very lucky people that virtually never had a day of school, and has pretty much never had to rearrange a client due to illness. Sure, I get my fair share of the sniffles, and sure I occasionally have to reschedule appointments due to other commitments, but my immune system has generally supported my working schedule. Perhaps this was due to eating a lot of dirt as a toddler, perhaps it’s sheer luck, but I have always taken it for absolute granted. Until now.

So, before you start worrying, there’s nothing wrong with me now, it was likely a stomach bug and I’m back to full health, but it completely floored me and I had to have 3 days on the sofa. For those of you in employment, this can be catastrophic for your boss if this happens to you, but you yourself are largely able to pick up where you left off upon your return to work in the knowledge that a certain portion of your work missed will have been undertaken by another member of staff. But what about when you’re self-employed? You get an enormous backlog to catch up with!

This is when your planning really comes in handy. I wrote my list as usual of tasks that needed to be completed and picked off the urgent ones that had to be done that day if nothing else. Obviously contacting clients to reschedule was number 1 on the list, followed by 2 emails that had to be sent. It took me 8 hours, but it got done eventually. And repeat.

So this affliction lasted me through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday saw a long day working in London and Friday & Saturday an exhausted combination of catching up on missed clients, admin and personal jobs. But how do you prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed with trying to do 6 days worth of work in 2 days? Again, it goes back to my organisational post about writing down all the tasks & then picking off the urgent and priority jobs and completing them systematically.

There is no point stressing out trying to do all the catching up in one day. Prioritise a reasonable number of jobs to be done and allow time for rest if you are still recovering. Not all your jobs are urgent and can wait until you are in the right space mentally to undertake them, for example, will your business wither and wilt if you don’t do the Instagram post you had intended to until tomorrow? I highly doubt it. Leave it until you are healed and have the energy to give to it to do it properly.

I like to refer to Eisenhower’s urgency/importance principle below which is a great tool to pull out of the locker in times of high workload and stress where time management, efficacy and efficiency are crucial.

To use this principle you must first write a list of all jobs and then allocate them one of the 4 categories.

  1. Important and Urgent: complete these number 1 priority tasks today. Do it now!

  2. Important but not urgent: leave these for today and schedule them in to be completed on another day where you will have more time to dedicate to doing them well.

  3. Not important but urgent: can you delegate them to ease your own load? Will they affect you if not completed? Were they in fact a procrastination all along? Do they achieve your goals or someone elses? Can you just say no? Or reschedule them?

  4. Not important and not urgent: Get them off the list.

Unexpected time off from your business can happen for so many reasons and have a huge knock on effect for the coming days and weeks planning. I hope this has been a helpful post to remind you that you’re KILLING IT, you’re human, and you can always bounce back!

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Time Management and Organisation

This is one for my fellow biz-minded guys and girls with some of my tips to staying sane and organised in life and business.

Running your own business is always a huge challenge when it comes to getting sh*t done, amiright? Especially when you’re appointments based and trying to manage a sessions diary that rarely gives you more than 24hr notice. So how can it be done?

Now, I am no expert here and am on a constant learning curve and ebb and flow of manic weeks, quiet weeks and the steady in-between weeks. I have zero routine or regularity and it can really make you feel off balance and never feel “safe.” But I’ve been in this industry 9 years now and have slowly but surely learnt a few tricks that work for me, both on a practical and emotional level and I’d love to share them with you!

Being self-employed (and motivated, managed etc) is the greatest freedom we can achieve in our working lives, idyllic and dreamy because you can simply “work whenever you want, right?!” WRONG! My life as a business owner in charge of my own income and destiny means I regularly feel like I’m never really at work (because I love what I do and I can be flexible, plus I’m always multi-tasking: think replying to emails whilst watching Love Island) but also that I’m never really “off-work” either. Days off for me mean replying to emails, diary organising, social media or website updates, kit cleaning and packing, filling out client paperwork, doing tax returns, ordering stock, renewing insurance, getting fuel and so on and so on…. its never ending! And when you do finally sit down for a cup of tea, you feel guilty for not doing more for your business. After all, you get out what you put in right?

These constant feelings have been a huge battle for me and things that I have worked really hard on overcoming since taking my nail work full time.

So my first tip is paperwork, the boring route of all organisation. Find a system that works for you- I have to write all appointments down with a paper diary as they are booked or they are forgotten immediately! I have also started bullet journaling in my own way for all other tasks both business and non-business related. Some of you will already be familiar with this method, but I’m not going to explain it here as a quick google search will do it more justice. For me, this involves a big paper pad and pen, writing a list at the start of my free period (i.e. a morning or afternoon off) of all of the things I’d like to get completed in that session, such as post on Instagram, email X client, write a blog post. I can pick them off as I choose and tick them off as they are completed. This has truly changed my organisational life as I no longer have a million ideas swirling around my creative brain all the time resulting in NOTHING being actually achieved.

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My second tip would be to relax! Crazy thought but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Planned to get up early on your free morning to crack on with a certain task but overslept? Don’t beat yourself up, you must’ve needed the sleep and will accomplish the task more effectively later when you are rested. In fact, I believe self-care is a top priority when it comes to efficient business running and should be factored in to every single day! I do around 30 minutes of yoga at home daily which allows me to look after my body which can suffer due to the “hunched over” nature of doing nail treatments, and clear my mind and meditate ready for sleep. I’m slowly learning to be kinder to myself, to not beat myself up if I’m less productive than planned and to praise myself for any achievements.

I also advocate setting yourself some working boundaries to allow proper restful time off: if you’re planning a day out with your partner/children, don’t work. Don’t cancel plans to take on more work and ensure time is made for yourself and others. I don’t reply to ANY clients on a Sunday or after 10pm unless it’s vitally urgent and I don’t see clients before 10am because I regularly work until 10pm. You cannot do everything and you need to create separation between time at work and leisure time to recharge.

My final tip for today is to learn to say no. This is something I have really struggled with as a freelancer. Without a set income you always need to be working as hard as you can! Not necessarily. Work smarter, not harder. I used to get myself into all sorts of tricky situations saying yes to a session job and then realising it was impossible to move my commitments at home. These days I feel a lot more relaxed and philosophical in the knowledge that it will be if it’s meant to be and if it’s too stressful then let it go because it’s not for you. I am always as flexible as I can be but I will turn down a client who can only do a Sunday and I will turn down a shoot if I have too much going on elsewhere. There will be other jobs/clients more suited to you and most people will respect you more for having boundaries.

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I hope there’s some helpful insight in there somewhere for you. Please do comment below if you have any questions or suggestions for anything else you’d like me to write about.

What Do I Actually Do?

So, you might have read my bio by now and been confused by the terminology I use to describe the nature of my work….

The first part is easy enough though right? I’m a fully qualified and insured mobile nail technician. This part of my work is my day-to-day “bread and butter”, visiting the homes of private clients and rendering ALL nail services from a straight up file and polish, to a full set of hard gel/acrylic enhancements with custom nail art, and everything in between.

I don’t do ANY other beauty, just nails, which means I am highly specialised in this field.

The second branch of my work tends to throw some confusion into the mix- session manicurist! Session manicurists work much like session musicians: we operate wherever we are needed! This can incorporate anything from painting models nails at fashion shows to complement a designers’ catwalk collection, doing nails for magazine shoots, advertising campaigns for brands, painting at pop-up nail bars at events and every other circumstance you can possibly think of where hands or feet might be on display. I am freelance, with no agent representing me and usually get offered these jobs through other nail artists, beauty talent agencies or connections in the hair, makeup or styling world and can decide from there whether I would like to take up the offer or not.

The most common misconception is that session work is glamorous due to the nature of the people’s hand that we manicure. Yes, they are usually models, but this job is rarely glamorous! It rarely involves a private jet and luxury island, but is more often than not a case of scrambling around the floor of a multi-storey car park in the dark, with hairdryer wires across your face and a model who doesn’t sit still, trying to paint filthy, sweaty toes!

But this is a job we all do for the love and the thrill. The reality is that you never know where you’re going to end up, you can never fully plan your diary and you never know who you’re going to meet. That alone puts a lot of people off of entering this highly ambiguous area of the industry, but for the nomads like myself, this is the dream: every week is different and it presents an opportunity to travel the world and work with some of the greatest talents in so many fields.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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PINK Nails Products

I always strive to use the industry’s best tried-and-tested products in my business, so you always know that whatever is used on your skin and nails, whether privately or in the session world, is of the highest salon quality. In this post I will talk about the “private clients” side of my business and my most popular treatment- gel polish!

When I joined the nail industry in 2010, I didn’t know it, but it was around the same time as the launch of CND Shellac, the product that revolutionised the nail industry and took nails from a service for the few, to a universal treatment for everyone. A nail technician became a job in its own right rather than just an extension of the beauty industry and led to a boom in manicurists training. It was the start of the nail industry as we know it today and it was a very exciting time to be involved!

Since the invention and success of Shellac, many other brands have followed suit and released a line of gel polish: every professional brand and many not so professional. Of course, whilst the principles of gel polish are the same across the brands, they are certainly not all created equal (that is another story for another day!) I have had the opportunity to try several professional brands over my time in the industry, and whilst there are many good ones out there and a few I really like and occasionally use, I have largely stuck to just one brand.

So rest assured, when you book with PINK Nails, you will not have dangerous eBay fakes or Chinese knock-offs used on your hands, but the original (and best!) CND Shellac.

As any nail professional knows, this is (to my knowledge) the single most expensive gel polish on the market, but for me, you cannot put a price on an effortless, quick and damage-free removal process which I have never seen beaten anywhere else.

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