“MIGHTY THINGS FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS GROW.” — JOHN DRYDEN, 17TH CENTURY ENGLISH POET
In the early stages of your nail profession, there is a multitude of tempting products and tools to stuff in your salon kit. Who hasn’t wanted to redirect funds from a boring yet wise purchase for something racier like a seasonal limited edition Swarovski crystal mix? What is the nail techs equivalent to an essential capsule collection or a new driver’s starter car?
Good reason is often abandoned in the beauty supply aisles and online shopping carts. Your business requires a more level headed approach in order to unleash your purchase power. The best practice is to keep it simple. Here is a cheat sheet for nail product essentials. Start out as a minimalist and make sure every product in your possession is earning you dollars. This is the time to make smart product investments that will stretch with you as you build your clientele.
WISE OR WILD SPENDING?
You want to binge-buy everything that catches your eye. You want it now. Nom nom nom, feed the ravenous glitter monster within. Red flag warning! Please slow down and be purposeful. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Square one is to create a spending plan that allows you to operate a steady nail business. Do you know for certain what services will you provide? What is your total working budget? Can you project a plan to track how many sets are possible with your current product? Can you mark your calendar to see the timing for a regular schedule replenishing product replenish? Seek out the small patterns of your use and purchases. When you start out, draft a monthly shopping list with three columns- Need/Want/On The Fence. Track the expenses over three months and see what your average monthly expenses are.
NOT SO BASIC BASICS
To spend wisely, the bulk of your initial salon buy will consist of core products. Decide if you’re going to offer acrylic or gel. It’s best to call out now what you want to be known for…basically what will be your number one service? Then pick up the essentials for that system. Kits are an affordable way to do this. You will absolutely need a good UV lamp (or two). You will also need to start with an E-file to save your wrists from the wear and tear of hand filing. Both are big ticket items but worth every penny. The basics are what you use to build a business. They are pantry staples in the kitchen. The core products for your starting line up should be a set of 12 colours that include best selling classics like nudes, reds, pinks, and a couple trendy colors. You can layer on to that another 12 Glitters. Custom glitter mixes provide endless possibilities. Lastly you will need a couple of high-quality brushes. Don’t over extend and dig yourself into any unnecessary debt before you bring in your first customer. This profession is a marathon not a race to financial independence. Pace yourself. It’s ok to start small.
For some reason, many nail techs can’t wrap their head around “less is more” philosophy. Take baby steps. A variety of specialty products means nothing if you still haven’t found your first client. Train yourself to slay in one specific service. Let that be your thing, your expertise. You will never regret it. As you build up your cash reserves, now you can pull in something new for fun. You can even plan when you will reward yourself with a splurge purchase. YN Pro Kits in acrylic or gel offer the most bang for your buck at a £300 starting investment. Just throw in a light and you’re ready to book clients. When in doubt turn to your nail community and ask for support. You may be going solo for the first time but you never have to do anything alone!
“The Dilemma of Doing Nails for Free: When is it okay?”
Nails are an important part of our beauty routine, and we all want to make sure that we get the best possible results. But what happens when someone asks you to do their nails for free? This is a dilemma that many people in the nail industry face, and it’s important to understand when it’s okay to say yes and when it’s not.
“The Meaning of Free”
Free is a tricky word, and when it comes to work, it can have different meanings for different people. For some, doing nails for free may mean that they are just getting started and need the practice. For others, it may be a way to give back to their friends and family. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have clear communication about what the person can expect from the free work.
“The Importance of Practice”
If you’re just starting out in the nail industry, practice is key. Doing free model calls and putting it out on Instagram can help you get the practice you need. Just make sure that you clearly communicate the purpose of the free work and what the person can expect.
“When is it okay to do Nails for Free?”
While there are certainly circumstances in which it’s okay to do nails for free, such as for family members or as a one-time gift to a friend, it’s not okay to ask someone to work for free just because they love it. In the case of a beginner in the nail industry, they can do some sets for free to get practice, but it should be clear that this is a one-time offer and that the person can expect to pay for future services.
“The Final Word”
At the end of the day, past a certain point, the beginner should transition to charging for their services. Doing some sets for free can be a great way to get practice and find new clients, but it’s important to establish a clear relationship with clear communication and expectations. Doing nails for free can be beneficial for both parties if done correctly.
“A GOOD SYSTEM SHORTENS THE ROAD TO THE GOAL.”
— Orison Swett Marden, Self-Help/Balanced Living Pioneer and Success Magazine Founder in 1897
A lot of people ask if it’s okay to mix nail products from different manufacturers. We reveal the absolute truth about mixing nail brands here.
We like to think of nails as equal parts art, science, and magic. Add a dash of this, then a sprinkle of that, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! Life shows us that there are certain formulas that work and others that don’t. What is the perfect coffee to cream ratio? What is the best short-cut for the morning commute? Should I bathe every night or shower each morning? What’s the optimal amount of sleep to feel well-rested? Each step of the way is trial and error before we discover a perfect set of circumstances that offer prized moments of ease in an often unpredictable day. Out of curiosity, we often run experiments in our everyday lives, refining the levers and turning the dials to happily identify our preferences and land on systems that work every time, without disappointment.
Young Nails Inc. is a nail care manufacturer. We are 100% biased. We’ve put our hands on many, many, many product formulas. We have found some good, some bad and some not worth mentioning. We take great pride in our YNI research and development to take the guesswork out of your job as a nail professional. We understand that sometimes, it might be too irresistible or possibly financially necessary to mix and match nail products from various brands. We do our best here to debunk any brand mixing urban legends and give you as much honest and neutral feedback as possible.
Yes, you can technically mix nail products from different brands. It’s highly unlikely that mixing and matching product from different nail brands will have any explosive effects. Do we recommend you do this? No, we do not. Why is that? Simply put, we cannot test and solve for all the other product that isn’t ours. YNI is always here to help; regardless if you’re using our brand exclusively or not. The reason we cannot recommend mixing and matching brands is because when you introduce a product that is not ours, it limits our ability to help you problem solve if and when any problems come up like your acrylic lifting. If you were to call in for technical help, the first thing we would ask you is, “How are you prepping the nail?”. Preparation is the biggest cause of problem nails. The second question is “What are you using?”, we know our brand and hold the product quality to the highest standards. We are only experts in our YN product line. We know how our liquids, powders, and gels perform and can anticipate any of their possible quirks because we’ve tested them out there in the world on real clients.
If you do mix one company’s monomer with someone else’s powder, and this combo has repeatedly proven stable, than you do you! We call this Chemist Barbie. You’re using a little of this and a little of that and so far it’s working out. We see Chemist Barbie come out in nail techs because the nail system being used is somehow not checking off all the boxes. There is a part of the system that is under performing. Maybe it’s the color powder or the monomer. The nail tech is afraid and not willing or able to move on from what’s not working. Instead you settle for something that is “good enough” relationship. You don’t want to change what you’re using all at once because it can be stressful. Yikes. Deep down you know what you have to do. You are in charge of your own happiness and “semi-happy” is not an ideal long-term situation.
Not all nail liquids and powders are created equal. As a nail pro, you should consider what standards of quality are meaningful to you, what you like and works best for you/your clients. These are the factors we use to develop all our nail care systems. Then we send them out for rigorous testing with our community of busy YN mentors and only then are they certified systems that work. If you’re ready to move out of “semi-happy” to entertain the possibility of “full on happy”, might we suggest just trying out a sample of one of our complete systems. Road test it on a willing and understanding test client. We can’t wait to see where you go from there.
Are you new to the nail industry? Or have you been a nail technician for years? No matter where you are in your career, there is one thing that you should always be focusing on: the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in learning the latest and greatest advanced techniques, but without a strong foundation in the basics, you’ll never be able to excel in your craft.
What exactly do we mean by “the fundamentals?” Think of it as the building blocks of nail artistry. This includes things like knowing how to use your electric file and hand file properly, holding your brush and nail polish bottle correctly, and having a steady hand and pressure control. Without these basics, you won’t be able to achieve the precision and control needed for more advanced techniques.
For example, let’s take a look at acrylic application. There are certain fundamentals that need to be mastered before attempting more complex designs. You should be able to consistently pick up a bead of acrylic of any size, have a steady hand and pressure control, and know how to work the product with precision. Without a strong foundation in these fundamentals, you’ll struggle to achieve the designs you’re after.
One of the most important fundamentals in nail artistry is balance. This means having control over your hand movements, and knowing how to maintain proper hand and finger positioning to ensure a stable and balanced application. Just like in martial arts, having good balance is key to mastering any skill. It’s also important to be able to work your tools with ease, including your electric file, hand file, and brush.
At the end of the day, mastering the fundamentals is what sets the best nail technicians apart from the rest. It might feel awkward at first, but with practice and dedication, you’ll be able to achieve control, precision, and balance that will take your nail artistry to the next level. So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the industry for years, don’t forget to focus on the basics. Master the fundamentals, and you’ll be able to achieve anything you set your mind to.
“THANK YOU, NEXT (NEXT). THANK YOU, NEXT (NEXT). THANK YOU NEXT. I’M SO GRATEFUL FOR MY EX…” — ARIANA GRANDE, AMERICAN POP STAR
Losing a client can really shake up your confidence and put a dent in your professional progress. It never feels good to lose a customer, unless you were already trying to show them the door. Alas, it’s a part of business. Are there any special rules of engagement (or disengagement) when you find yourself in a client break up? Should you head into confrontation mode or do as Gwenyth might, “consciously uncouple”? How can you separate yourself from up in your feelings and switch into a more detached business one? How will future clients benefit from your current negative experience, turning your perspective from bad to good? What might this departure say about you, your service and work ethic?
THAT WAS AWKWARD
Break ups happen for a reason and rarely overnight. Your client relationship is no different. Sometimes you hit it off and ride into the sunset. Other times it might end with all the drama of a Bachelor rose ceremony. So what happens when a client stops calling and starts seeing someone else? Are you inclined to call the old ex and check in to see what went wrong? Was it me or was it you? Or are you willing to accept that breakups are a part of life and remove yourself from any guilt that might come up for you. No stalking, please! We advise to do what you can to keep things from getting awkward. If your client ends up in the station next to yours or another one down the street, wish them well. Leaving things open ended and without blame allows for future opportunities. You never know when and where you might reconnect.
GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
Most of the time a client will make a switch simply based on a factor of conveniences. Forget about customer loyalty and know it’s more about a client’s inability to commit. The clients’ services get prioritized by the thrill or spur of the moment impulse. There’s also something we call, “the grass is always greener” syndrome. Just like nail pros, clients can find themselves in a rut. Checking someone new out is the only way to scratch the itch for reinvention.
Now we always welcome the chance for self-reflection in business. A client leaving here and there is really no big deal. If several clients are jumping ship at the same time, maybe there is something more to it. Take time to regularly check in with your clients and your work while the going is good. Is there room to improve my business? Have you gotten a little lax and your service needs a little pep infusion? Or maybe is it the actual nails? Are you behind on the current nail trends? Are nails falling off? Do you need to reconsider your products of choice? Maybe you want to try some new classes, pick up a new nail art technique, or brush up on continued education? Some disgruntled clients will leave without a word. Once they’ve left; it’s too late for a heart to heart. If you’re a new nail tech trying to build a clientele, reach out to one of your satisfied clients. Seek out someone who you trust. Text them or chat them up. Let them know that you’re always trying to improve yourself and might they help you with some feedback? Don’t be afraid of the truth. Be transparent, tell them your concerns, how much you value their opinion. P.S. Don’t ask this of every client. It won’t be productive. Just ask the ones you have a steady connection with. A nail pro with full books is barely going to bat an eyelash if and when a client falls off. When one does leave, now is the time to pick and choose a better replacement. It’s a true testament to your talent when someone leaves and can’t get back in.
THE 50-50 RULE
For every client that sits in your chair, expect to keep half of them if you’re new to the business. This is the 50-50 rule and it’s not a bad one. We’ve said it before and we’ll repeat it here, every booked client is an incredible marketing opportunity. You’re just one social media snap away from every one of their acquaintances. Switching out sets or during maintenance is the best time to casually check in. Invite their feedback and their best friends in for service the same conversation. Anticipate their lifestyle needs and you just might have a client for life.
Notice how your work is wearing. Come clean and be honest with yourself. A healthy relationship takes two people. Don’t take any of the clients’ needs for granted. This is a great way to prevent cheating. Clients will come and go. It takes time to build the relationship and settle into familiarity. People might not recognize what value you’re offering until they try someone else. Over time you’re going to see the results. If you’re looking back on several years of low client retention, something might be up with your foundation. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Reach out to a fellow pro who has a business set up you admire and ask for guidance. You can always reach out to YN directly, we’d be glad to help.
“Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.” – Pablo Picasso
The age old debate of Quality vs. Quantity is trending upwards on professional nail industry social media. We’re jumping straight into the deep end to share the YN opinion on which trait best serves the career of the professional nail artist. We feel this is a market specific debate. To keep the discussion current, here we are speaking specifically to the UK professional nail market and its target audience.
The truth is that neither Quality or Quantity alone can offer the nail pro the financial success they seek. Quality alone is a half-truth. The same for Quantity. Instead, we ask you to take action towards creating a salon environment where a perfect balance of both Quality and Quantity equally exists. You’ll soon discover that this kind of balance that you can take to the bank.
Let’s take the world famous artist Pablo Picasso for example. In an impressive 78 year creative career, Picasso cranked out a whopping number of works of art, over 140,000 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. Art by Picasso at auction always commands a small fortune. Nobody is mad at his approach to quantity or can argue against the quality of this work. Any way you measure it, it’s hard to deny that his career was successful. Picasso is one of the most inventive, influential, prolific, and profitable creative talents in Modern history. The numbers don’t lie. We are in awe and inspired.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
We’ve been lucky to travel across the globe and witness the phenomenal work of nail artists on their home turf. It’s been our experience that the local market decides what types of services are in demand. In Europe, in a country like Sweden, it is not uncommon for a nail service to clock in between 2 to 2.5 hours. Similar nail service times may be found in places like Japan. Each country carries its own values and preferred traditions of quality and service. We expect that the professionals providing these services are compensated accordingly. In the UK, the market and corresponding market research shows the client prefers to spend anywhere from 30-60 minutes in the salon. This is time sensitivity should be a goal post for the nail tech first starting out. The norm for these types of services are usually manicures with ombres, glitters, and mylars.
There are always exceptions to the rule. We love and respect a handful of UK-based nail artists who have cultivated a niche menu of services for detailed hand drawn nail art and enhancements or work as editorial nail artists. These specialty services can take quite a bit of time. Sure their earning focus may not be on the number of clients they service each day; but they most definitely have secured a competitive and profitable day rate. We’d even venture to guess that the niche market nail artist knows exactly how much money they are making each day and how much money they need to afford the good life.
CATER TO YOUR VISION, THEN YOUR CLIENT
Nails are often considered the fast food of the beauty industry. We hope to tweak that notion. We want to give it a boost in it’s reputation and expand the options available. Maybe move it to the top of the “food chain”. Everywhere you look there are specialty salons that cater to their client with a very specific pitch; they have a focus on a “hit it and quit it” efficiency. If you’re going through the trouble of paying for cosmetology school; think about what kind of career you want to have. Ask yourself what kind of services you want to provide and what you want your schedule to look like. Then do the math to determine if you can make a living this way. As a nail tech, you get the luxury to choose how you balance your career and workload. At YN, one of the most important lessons we teach is the importance of speed coupled with service. If your speed is up, but your quality and service is sub-par; it’s time to get back to basics. The speed demons in nails are usually lifer nail artists and they’ve earned their bragging rights.
NAIL HEALTH FOR THE WIN.
Technique first, speed second. This is another core lesson we teach at YN. Your technique, needs to be good and is the key to everything. A good technique always prioritizes the health of the nail first and it should never, ever be sacrificed. This is what clients will keep coming back for. It’s a true career builder. Of course, speed is an important part of the nail game. In today’s market, you cannot build a successful career on a three hour set unless you have already cultivated a clientele that expects a service that is extraordinary and is happy to spend their time and money with you beyond the norm.