“I don’t like to give advice. I like to give people information because everyone’s life is different, and everyone’s journey is different.” — Dolly Parton, American Musical Legend and Enduring Cultural Icon
If there were to be a face-off between Acrylic and Gel, who would be the winner? Which service is the most crucial to having a successful nail business? It’s the equivalent of asking Young Salo which of her boys might be her favourite, Greg or Habib? It’s tricky to say the least. Most likely the best answer to both questions depends on which day of the week it is and the task at hand! So let’s direct your attention to this special breakdown of some key factors that might tip the scales in the battle for the nail pro’s favourite go to nail service.
For as long as we’ve been in the nail industry, we’ve seen both, Acrylic and Gel, fall in and out of favour at different moments in time. Our evidence is often based on how quickly each class sells out. Preferences come in waves of popularity. They follow the lead of fashion trends like the specific cut of your jeans, the length of your bangs, and the height of your heel. Location, clientele, and professional experience also factor into what might be the best product for your salon work.
THE BASICS OF ACRYLIC AND GEL
Here is a simple explanation of how these two work. Acrylic air dries with a monomer (which is the nail liquid) and a polymer (which is the powder). When combined they create a chain reaction called polymerisation that produces a clay-like consistency and turns from wet to solid within 4-5 minutes. Once hard, it can filed into shape. While the physical properties of Acrylic would technically allow you to soak off the product; we cannot recommend this as an efficient, effective, or healthy method for removal. Soaking off Acrylic would take a ridiculously lengthy amount of time. It’s like opting to travel across the country by foot. Sure it’s
technically possible. However, we can agree that there are more practical and alternative modes of transportation like car, train, or plane that would get you to your destination in less time and in more comfort.
A place where Acrylic excels is problem nails. Acrylic is the ideal product for nail biters. It acts as a cast for damaged nails to train the nail and redirect the growth channel because it can be pinched as it air cures. Consider this, if you had a broken arm, which would be the best course of action to mend it? A hard cast to set and protect the fracture or a soft brace or sling? Wide, flat, splayed nail issues also would benefit from this service. You can also maintain a set of nails with either Acrylic or Gel. In certain instances, they even work well together. Build with Acrylic and fill with Gel because of Acrylic’s porous nature.
Gel is an oligomer, this is fancy “chemistry speak” for a ready-mixed product of monomer and polymer. The chain reaction here occurs with the aid of a UV lamp, Gel is able to cure and harden faster. You will find Gel is a softer medium to file. Unlike Acrylic, it is chemically impossible to soak off Hard Gel. Yes, there are other Gels like Colour Gel and Gel Polish that would respond well to a solvent like acetone; yet we would never recommend it. At YN, we teach that you should not solely use a solvent soak to remove product on your clients’ nails. Removal should be just as an important part of your nail maintenance skills set as application. We firmly believe and teach these techniques in which you use an E-file to take the product off safely and always prioritise the health of the nails.
When you’re good at neither or perhaps master of both mediums, which to choose? It’s comes down to chemistry and your individual clients needs. Speaking from a place of extensive professional experience and product development, Greg’s pick would be Acrylic and all it’s amazing versatility. At the other end of the spectrum, Habib in his role as a fledgling nail pro, would choose the easier learning curve associated with Gel’s limitless range of service options (for example builder gel, colour gel, gel paints, and the handy precision gel applicators). A nice byproduct of starting out with Gel is that as you learn to control it with your brush; it’s a great asset to transition into using Acrylic. It helps from being too heavy-handed due to a finely developed sense of muscle memory.
So much depends on where the work is done and a lot of unexpected external circumstances. Sometimes deciding between Acrylic or Gel, is more a question of what is appropriate and suitable for your salon space. Once many years ago, on a trip to Japan, we saw first hand how these factors played a part in favouring Gel Services. All the commercial storefronts were tiny and tight for space. There wasn’t a lot of square footage for services and the ventilation systems for neighbouring businesses weren’t optimal for Acrylic use. Everyone knows the smell of Acrylic is quite distinct. It has a tendency to travel and permeate the air of the grocery store or shops next door. The unique qualities of Acrylic were not well received within that specific culture and as a result we saw the explosion of sculpted gel nails.
In the US, determining factors are based on different criteria. Some locations here may also be sensitive to the smell of Acrylic; in which case you too may choose to go with Gel. Sometimes, all the environmental/physical conditions may be virtually “perfect” (location, square footage, and adequate ventilation, etc.) but for some reason the Acrylic services on offer just seem to miss the mark. Your clients may just not be interested in it. What to do in this scenario? The only answer is to adapt your skill set. Life happens. As you go through your journey as a nail professional and make transitions from various client circles and salons; we highly recommend you explore a deep and diverse understanding of both techniques to rise to any occasion as it presents itself.
NAIL NINJA GOALS
As you can see there are many benefits for a nail pro to, over time, come to master both Acrylic and Gel. You deserve to be the nail tech people seek out for the diversity of your services. As tastes change, being a chameleon is a truly valuable professional asset. You will be able to create extensions, colour, natural overlay, and dabble in dip powder, too. Aspire to the 5th degree black belt in nails. Sky’s the limit if you can use both with the same level of expertise and ease when a new client walks in; addressing their individual needs and nail health. Specialise in one thing to separate yourself from the pack to start; however remember it’s good to be versatile. Look at the swing from Gel Polish demand to Acrylic now. It’s hard to believe and who knows what’s next.
“IF I AM AN ADVOCATE FOR ANYTHING, IT IS TO MOVE. AS FAR AS YOU CAN, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. ACROSS THE OCEAN OR SIMPLY ACROSS THE RIVER” — ANTHONY BOURDAIN
The relationship between the nail tech and salon is a familiar mutually beneficial one. Even so, what happens when it’s time to switch things up? Are you feeling ready for a change in scenery? Life is a series of entrances and exits. The daily rhythm of a nail tech is no different with its rotation of faithful clientele and seasonal must haves. All good things come to end; signaling the start of another unimaginable good thing. As you grow more confident, you’ll encounter more opportunities. It’s natural that as your talent, self-knowing and personal connections expand that your definition of what’s professionally satisfying evolves.
SEEKING A FOREVER SALON
The reasons to leave a salon will vary. Toxic characteristics and problems previously invisible are now made visible. Maybe the salon location lacks a steady foot traffic. It’s quite possible there’s no specific drama exists at all. Perhaps, you’re just ready for a new thrill. To insure your next long-term salon relationship is the right one, give yourself ample time for proper research. You deserve better, so make sure you find better. Don’t be in a rush. Settle for less and you might find yourself bouncing around too much. You aren’t the only one in the process being sized up for the job. You’re also in a position of power. You have a choice in this. You get to interview the salon owner, too. Are Do they have what you are looking for? Check things out as a customer. Talk to the people that work there. Do they look happy to be there? What’s the vibe? Get a thorough read and visit on different days of the week. Let’s hope it’s a love match.
MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
When the desire to leave your current salon becomes hard to resist, it’s time to make a list. It’s so important to identify what you want in a work environment. What vision do you have for the next version of you? Articulate every detail of the vision so that it can be manifested. Take notes of what qualities you want to prioritize. What about a new salon and its owner is a deal breaker? Be rigorously honest with yourself and dig deep. What is making you happy or unhappy? Is it something you can actually change or is it beyond your control. Sometimes there is a cosmic lesson we need to learn about ourselves. It will keep appearing in our lives; showing up with a different face until it is dealt with properly.
Act like a grown up when you plan your exit. Now that everything’s lined up, go directly to the salon owner to give notice. Don’t let this get to them from someone else’s lips. Word gets out very quickly. Keep everything super professional. Let the owner know how much you appreciated their time and sharing their knowledge with you. An unfortunate byproduct of honesty when you resign is that the discussion might not be well-received. Don’t be surprised if the salon asks you to leave on the spot or shows you the door at the end of the day. So be prepared. Have your things ready. Leave with your dignity and head held high. Give everyone respect, even if you don’t think they deserve it. You never know when your circumstances might change. Somewhere down the line you might want to return or your paths might cross. Try to play the long game.
Congratulations you’re ready to make the big move! When can you start? Map out this time frame, have dates in mind. Are your finances in order? Do you have any financial cushion for a slow start? How will you let your existing clients know? How can they book with you at the new place? Do you have a new schedule? Sometimes the new salon owner will be ready for you to start right away. Do you commit on the spot? Give your current salon at least two to four weeks notice as a courtesy. It’s a thoughtful move and best practice to give everyone time to figure out what needs to be done should they need it. Make a conscious decision to be courteous and appreciative. Express your gratitude for the opportunity but now it’s time to go.
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.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way we do business, and the beauty industry is no exception. In today’s blog, we will discuss how you can use AI to help your nail business!
One of the most popular and useful AI tools for businesses is ChatGPT. This AI tool allows you to enter prompts, such as asking it to write a professional email to a customer about following your salon’s procedures. ChatGPT then generates a well-written, grammatically correct email with the tone you desire. This saves a considerable amount of time and effort, especially for those who overthink their emails.
Aside from email writing, ChatGPT can also generate ideas for content creation. For example, you can ask it to give you ten tips on salon decorating ideas for the spring season. ChatGPT can also be used for coding, creating formulas for Excel, and even generating copy for marketing materials.
Another amazing AI tool is Murf.ai, which allows you to type out a script and choose a tone of voice for an AI-generated voiceover. You can even choose from different languages and accents to customize the voice to your needs. So for example, if you just don’t the sound of your own voice, then Murf.ai is perfect for you!
But that’s not all – there are other AI tools out there that can help with video creation, image editing, and even logo generation. For example, Synthesia.io allows you to create videos from plain text with an AI-generated spokesperson that looks and sounds real. Another amazing tool to help generate a logo is looka.com. You can describe your company, pick your color, customize, and it will generate a logo for you. Super easy and super cool.
Imagine the possibilities of AI-generated content for your nail business. No more struggling with writer’s block or feeling nervous in front of the camera. These tools can help you save time and create professional content that will help your business stand out. Just do your research and explore the many AI tools available to find the ones that work best for you.
“YOUR FIRST 1,000 PHOTOGRAPHS ARE YOUR WORST.”
— HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON, FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHER AND PIONEER OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
Forget about perfection and self-judgement. The biggest barrier to a great nail shot is the inner voice whispering sweet not nice things in your ear. Every artist experiences challenges in both documenting and celebrating their work. The creative mind and the act of creating is a very personal thing. It is simple and complicated. So what do you really need to take impactful professional nail photos? The answer is less fear and a single piece of gear. Most nail pros already have the perfect set up to produce great content in their back pocket. Seriously. All you need is your smartphone camera. Good thing we’re already glued to it!
TIP #1 A POSITIVE LENS
It’s time to reframe things. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in the shot; put into sharp focus all the things that are going right. Apply this positivity to all areas of your life. Give yourself a steady stream of affirmations. This is an important part of the ideal set up for creating nail content. It’s all a process and progress is made one small step at a time. The positive lens doesn’t mean you have to be inauthentic. Share it all, the good and the almost good. Release yourself from the perfect shot since it doesn’t actually exist. Stay humble. Share your journey and what you are learning. Don’t overthink it. With this tactic, you’ll be on the road to auto-pilot with a gallery of images to upload for content marketing on social media. Turn it all into a habit of completed quick actions.
TIP #2 CAMERA SHY
Just go with it! When you’re rotating through your services, don’t forget to take the shot. Every set of nails no matter how simple or complicated is worthy of being posted. Plan for the photo op. Tell your client at the top of the service that you will photograph the finished set. No doubt, they’ll help you to remember! There is always time. In the space you are thinking there is no time; that’s when you could have taken the shot! You can edit later. Start out by shooting at your very own workstation. If you happen to have an empty station in the salon to dedicate for this purpose, that’s nice too. You can share the studio set up with the other nail pros. Go for it. At your table is the best, it’s familiar territory.
TIP #3 LIGHTS & LOCATION
If you want to kick things up a notch, you can buy an inexpensive ring light and a tripod for your smartphone camera. There’s something about the way a ring light eliminates shadows and brings up the highlights in a set of nails. It makes a basic set look breathtaking. In the salon, you can have one ring light shared among all the nail techs or you can have one mounted at your workstation. Ring lights on the work space for general lighting and photography actually look super cool. The bonus here is the nail tech doesn’t even have to get up to capture the shot. All you have to remember to do is clean up and set a solid backdrop or table cover for the pose. You do not need any more pro photography gear than that!
TIP #4 PERSONAL STYLE EVOLUTION
Like the heart of street photography, you’re capturing a candid moment. The more you shoot, the more you will develop your own personal style. The only way to start cultivating your signature look is by experimenting. Embrace this process. In the beginning, you might borrow a hand shot format from a friend or a nail person you admire. Eventually you will find your stride. Build your gallery with your daily client list. At the end of the day, you’ll have about 5-8 new photo ops. It’s super easy to do if you don’t over analyze. Shoot first. Edit later. Post every day on a regular schedule. It will feel like a fun improvisation of tweaks and mistakes like refining a delicious recipe. The best way of learning is by doing.
“THE ART IS NOT IN MAKING MONEY, BUT IN KEEPING IT.” –PROVERB
Can’t shake the vision of opening your very own nail salon? How do you find the money to start a salon and keep the doors open? When you head down this road it’s crucial that you pare it down to the essentials only. Here are some practical trips to strategize and execute your new business venture.
TIP #1 START SMALL
We wish there was a fail proof instructional manual with a no-brainer guide for success. Far too often success stories are packaged as overnight fairy tales. What a complete misconception! If only a strong business plan with angel investors guaranteed an immediate return on investment. If you want to raise capital to open a salon or finance your education to become a nail tech, how do you pay for it while you build your technique and a clientele? Do you look for a bank loan or finance it with credit cards? Here at Young Nails, we’ve seen the many paths you can take to build a thriving nail business but the best place to start is small and with discipline. The dream is actually built slowly through action and intention; day in and day out.
TIP #2 NO BLIND SPOTS
Of course, we also have two unique views on the subject from our own experience. You can take on debt to start a business but do it with control and a plan. The plan is to start out small right? Make smart choices with the money. No need to run around compulsively shopping for the salon. Create a budget with line items for every expense. Total these items up and this is your spending plan. You have to know where every dollar is going. Make a projection of how long you can cover your overhead expenses like product and rent before your funds run dry. Is it two months, three month, or six months? Have you calculated the equation of how many clients you need to see to break even? What does that equation look like to actually start earning serious money? Write those target numbers down. Put them in a calendar as a reminder so you can double check if your monthly projections and your reality are matching up. You can’t go into it blind. You need to be very clear about your finances and make every dollar borrowed/earned work for you.
TIP #3 CAR & DRIVER
Knowing these numbers provides you the chance to switch gears if you need to. Run your business decisions by a trusted mentor or business ally who’s already successfully doing what you want to do. You don’t have to do this kind of work scared and alone. Reach out to the community. Ask for help, an experienced nail tech can show you the ropes. They have the ability to edit your shopping list for salon essentials; calling out the distinction between a need and a want. It’s a common pitfall to spring for the pricey big ticket items, super luxury spa build outs, or get upsold on specialty products you haven’t quite mastered. It’s the equivalent of handing a sports car over to a teen who just earned their license. It can be done, but probably won’t end well. If there is something that you are completely obsessed with; keep a little “obsession” envelope and stash some cash from every service to treat yourself to it.
TIP #4 ROCK CLIMBING
With business, there are really good days, really bad days, and middle of the road days. Some days you get ahead of it and the very next you might fall back. Inching your way out of debt is a give and take. Profitability is not a skyward rocket trajectory but more of a slow dance. Obviously, there is no way to predict the future. However if you make a money plan (both how to earn it and how to spend it) you will have clarity. Think about every step of the way. This sets you up for a greater likelihood of actually earning an incredible living as a nail tech. In our experience, we created a vision and partnered it with a clear strategy for sixth months out in the business. Then we’re always prepared to rethink the plan, adjust, test, and rethink again. The only thing we can compare it to is the rock climbing documentary Free Solo that is a story of passion, obsession, feel and calculated risks. A must see.
TIP #5 THE UPGRADE
After three years of successfully booth renting, you might get an itch to go bigger. You may want to open a salon. Maybe that downtown industrial space (in need of a remodel) is calling out to you. It’s easy to fall in love with creating a beautiful spa with a contractor, designer, additional staff and the fast pass to spending $200K. What to do? Look for something you can afford without investing too much out of pocket. You don’t want to go into that kind of debt. You want something that you can pay even if you have zero clients. If for some reason you cannot resist the fixer-upper, plan for the remodel to cost double the amount originally budgeted. It always goes over in time and budget more than you anticipated. In the meantime, your money is flying out the door while nothing is coming in. Don’t let the dream be over before it’s started because you’re in over your head with debt. If you plan to put it all on a credit card or borrow from friends and family, draft a reasonable plan to repay it. How many months will you carry that balance and when will you pay it all off.
TIP #6 LIVING THE DREAM
Dial in your hiring, marketing, and services. Then buckle up for the ride of your life because it’s a lucky few who make a financial killing right off the bat. You want to do more than break even. You want to stay disciplined, self-directed and stick to your plan. Start small and manageable. Everything takes time. You have to expect and save for the unexpected; that’s the reality of running your own business. You need to understand all the boring money stuff so you can enjoy the really fun money stuff. Don’t fall in love with the dream and not be able to show up for the work. The dream can wait for when the timing is right for you financially. This is our recommendation for someone starting out.