Month: August 2014

Class is now in session and I’m teaching it!

When you don’t know what it is that you don’t know; how do you know which questions to ask when choosing education? This is a HUGE challenge for aspiring nail techs.  Most of Canada (aside from two provinces) has no standards.  That also means that ‘schools’ aren’t legislated either, and frequently teachers aren’t even qualified.  In most of Canada, it’s perfectly legit to take a one day course and go to work in a salon.  That’s it. Just one day.  Which is VERY interesting since depending on which province you reside in, laws allow a class to be anywhere from 30 to 39.5hrs long.  Yes, while our industry is unregulated, how much we are allowed to teach IS regulated.  That aside, why aren’t educators/schools taking advantage and teaching the maximum allowable as per their province?

In the US, things are a tad better in my humble opinion. Although, not perfect.  Regulations vary state to state from 200 to 600hrs and more for a combination of theory and practical before they can get their license.  Theoretical content in these courses seems to average across the US at approximately 100hrs  Keeping in mind that not all schools are equal and curriculum’s vary.   In Canada, the average time spent on theory for such things as: universal precautions, anatomy of the nail/hands/feet, sanitation, disinfection, diseases, prep and mani/pedi basics is ONLY THIRTY MINUTES.   Considering that Milady’s Standard of Nail Technology Textbook is ‘THE’ Bible for nail techs and 560 pages long, that leaves out a great deal of education.  Herein lies the problem, the Companies offering product specific training are offering the same 1 day course curriculum to Canadian Students as to American Students, without considering our lack of legislation or the fact that the majority of the students haven’t had benefit of a foundation course with any theory.

I was lucky and started off in this industry over 20yrs ago by earning my DEP in Hairdressing & Cosmetology on a 2yr course at a time when there were standards. I spent hours upon hours of theory. When I became serious about nails and no longer treated it as a hobby, I signed up for a couple more product-specific classes to update and expand my knowledge. Depending which class, they were 1 to 3 days in duration but it was all practical.  I was lucky once again because I found a wonderful nail tech forum.  It’s full of educated Nail Techs that were ready to kick my butt into shape and point me to the right resources. Most aren’t that lucky.

Several years, several courses, several books and DVDs later and I’m pursuing an advanced level of Certification.  So I show up for class at a Quebec-Distributors’ expecting to be challenged and tested.  Expecting to be surrounded by techs with as much, if not more, experience than myself.  After all, this is a certification intended for experienced techs with advanced skills that I’m going for. There were a couple. BUT  RINGA-DING-DING it’s my wake-up call.  The class is MOSTLY newbies that have never so much as done a natural mani or applied a nail tip or learned how to hold a nail file.   The Distributor didn’t restrict the class to those with previous education and experience.  It was open to everyone.   Those same newbies walked out with the same diploma as myself at the end of the day. No written exam. No practical test.  The certificate was handed out for ATTENDANCE. Do I need to explain that they could not master the techniques taught?  The word deflated doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about my ‘accomplishment’.

Fast forward another couple of years and I have relocated to Ontario. News is flying all over the web about a online education offered by the same Brand.   I am NOT comfortable with this at all, I stoutly believe it will further cripple the industry and it’s standards in Canada.  Online Education has already been tried and proven to fail (at least as far as Foundation courses go, I am not referring to nail art).  You see it time and again on the forums – techs that take online courses and end up spending more money for one-to-one classes because they can’t cut it. Yes, there are the rare few that manage ok.  Perhaps this method works in the US where there are standards that require BY LAW that techs start with foundation courses. BUT this is NOT the direction suitable for the Canadian market.

To add further insult to injury, I have recently been contacted by a couple of former clients of Quebec. They are complaining about a technician that had attended the same classes as myself, that held the same Certifications HOWEVER  the nails she produced weren’t of the same caliber.  Those are the clients’ words, not my own.  The clients expected me to explain why that technician wasn’t as skilled as myself if she held the SAME Certification.  HOW could I explain?   I then proceeded to reconsider my intended goals of teaching for this Company.  While they offer great products and courses; the lack of regulation in Canada and by the distributors makes these courses inappropriate.

My decision is now final.  I am definitely not pursuing my original goal.  Time to redirect.

My passion is still true.  I want to have an impact on this industry. I want to give back what was given to me by that wonderful nail forum in the UK.   I want to make a difference.  I STILL want to teach.  But who to teach for? I have been approached by a few companies in recent years, but none that ‘fit’. Either they didn’t offer all the products I need, or I didn’t believe in their product, or I didn’t believe in their quality of education OR a combination of all of the above . One school/distributor in Quebec made me an offer that was quite shocking.  When I asked why there was so little theory and why classes were so short, their answer to me was “a good tech doesn’t need to know how to read”.   Obviously I told them NO.

I started doing my research. It didn’t take me long and I didn’t have to go far.  I had considered this company in the past, but they didn’t carry everything I needed.  BUT NOW THEY DO!   The more products I try, the more I fall in love with them.  They’ve grown and they’re growing more every day.   They are Elite Beauty Supplies, located right here in Canada.  Knowing them as I do, I know for a FACT that they believe in standards.  Most importantly, they believe in ongoing education and they believe in TESTING their students to make absolutely sure that they are truly prepared to pursue the art of nail enhancement technology.  Their Foundation courses are 6 days long.  Certification is not a guarantee- the student must prove competence in theory and practical and they will have to take exams.  THIS is how I will make a difference!  I am now an Independent and Private educator of Elite Beauty Supplies products.

I know some of my peers may be surprised and fully expected me to go a different direction- my original direction. But those of my peers that truly know me and understand me will applaud my choice.  They understand my need to fight for standards in Canada, my need to offer quality education, my need to make a difference. EBS is not about satisfying stock holders, but about quality products and quality education. Added to that, EBS steadfastly believes in supporting the entrepreneurship of their nail techs and educators, and in quality products.  These beliefs mirror my own.

So class is now in session and the student is now becoming the Teacher.  I will be offering beginners classes for those interested in the art of technology for a total of 39.5hrs to maximize on the opportunity presented to me and teach as much as possible.  There will also be other courses available in addition to beginners’ classes.  Please keep your eyes open for further details.

I hope I make my mentors proud.

 

Course details will be uploaded to website and this blog soon.

Why am I making a Polish Rack?

So here we are at the new salon, and wall space is at a premium in my room.   Out of necessity, I must be creative with using my space as effectively as possible.  So with that in mind, my 2 Shellac Wall Racks and my 2 Vinylux Racks just will NOT fit.   I absolutely MUST create a more space effective wall rack for my bottles that are growing in number.

Off to Google I go. Looking at this and that, and the other.  Either it’s too small, too large, or too expensive or just plain ugly.  Like this one. OMG I would kill for this.  But hey ho, not in my budget.  Maybe one day.

Tree polish rack

 

So since I don’t have a fairy god mother, and Santa doesn’t like my chimney (must be something to do with all my swearing, I must be on naughty list), I have to construct my own to hold my collection of OVER 200 bottles and growing. I also want it to be cost effective in addition to space effective (read that to mean CHEAP since moving is expensive enough!)

Off to the hardware store.  I have put my brain to work and with a bit of input from a team-mate at work, have come to a conclusion.  I will use molding, five strips measuring  1/4 x 1.5 x 36″.  Then I’ll connect small L-brackets to them, and pop those suckers on the wall.  Hubby pre-drills (so we don’t split any more pieces…) and we attach everything, then I paint.  Set them aside to bring to work.

2014-08-12 16.20.35      

 

Murphy is at it again.  It would seem that the section of wall where I want them has a DIP in it.  To such a degree that my ‘mini-shelves’ won’t fit flush and are now slanting… I have a few choice words for this dilemma. Back to the drawing board. In the meantime, I have to buy some polyfilla and patch & paint the holes I made in the wall.  <Insert @#$%^&@#$%^&*  right about here>

So my decrepit van and I head off to the hardware store again. Only this time, I didn’t find the same gent as I had before.  This one NEEDED me to draw a picture of what I was doing.  He just couldn’t grasp it.  I did all the math for him, told him exactly what I needed.  That it needed to be thick enough so that screws in the 3/8th size didn’t go all the way through.  That it needed to be 27 x 36.  He assured me that the wood panel he chose would be fine and then he cut it.  I bought MORE paint.

2014-08-13 17.37.06

So without double checking, I painted it. Wait for it to dry, then woke this morning intent upon assembly.   NOPE.   NOT…….. GONNA……….. HAPPEN.   For one thing, it’s NOT thick enough, the screws will go all the way through and scrape against the wall. For another, he cut it the wrong dimensions and cut it 26 x 37 instead of 27 by 36.  Now I’m going to have to play some more with layout.  Another trip to the hardware to find the gent I had the first time around.  THANKFULLY someone who knows his stuff!   So he hooks me up with some scraps to make braces on the back so that the screws will hit the braces.  Free of charge. YEAH, I hope so!  That last screwup was NOT mine!  So, my awesome neighbor helped me out and cut my strips to length.   They are now sitting on the back of my panel, waiting for the glue to dry so I can affix the ‘mini-shelves’ on the front side.

2014-08-14 14.23.18  2014-08-14 14.35.13

 

So with a screw at either end, and a paint can smack in the middle of each, pushing the strips down flush to the panel… I sit and wait.

Stay tuned for the next segment on this drama.  It seems I must always do things the hard way HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

 

HERE’S THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

09062014  13.25.38 Nail Polish Rack

Moving Day… Again

It seems that I have done nothing but pack and unpack in the last 10mths.  Let’s hope I’ve seen the last of it for a while.  I am so sick and tired of boxes, I am beginning to think I never want to sell my house ever, even if the kids get too big for their rooms or we win a loto large enough to buy a mansion.  The thought of moving again stresses me to no end.  But to recap…

In October of 2013, my family and I moved from Quebec to Ontario. Packed up the house, the kids, the dogs, the cat, and the fish and here we are in Ontario. This task required two trucks, a minivan x 2, an econoline and a carload.  You would think that would be the end of it.

I then had to find a location for my business since city bylaws didn’t permit me to work from home.  Apparently there isn’t enough room on my street for one more car? And according to them my driveway isn’t large enough despite that we can park 2 cars plus a mini-van end to end in it. Right, because the first 20 feet of my lawn belong to the City and it’s called Frontage and so they said it doesn’t count. Craziness, but no matter how I logically argued this or suggested clients could park at the grocery store up the street, the City Bylaws Officer wouldn’t relent. So I looked around for a suitable salon.   Thinking that I had found one, I loaded up the mini-van and installed myself.

In the meantime, every second weekend, I made the trek back to Chateauguay Quebec.   I would load up my mini-van with assorted nail supplies and equipment at 6:30am. I would drive to Chateauguay about 1hr away, to unload and set up my work station at a friend’s house (thank you Val! Love ya!) and open up shop to meet the needs of my former regulars.  It was a small group. Mainly those that had been with me the longest (one as many as ten years!) and from 9am to 10pm on Saturday, and 9am to 8pm on Sunday; I would bang out one set of nails after another.  THEN I would pack up my kit/equipment, clean up, load the van and drive home.  To repeat the process two weeks later.    This allowed me to continue to make my gals happy, and also permitted me to have a small dependable revenue while establishing myself in Ontario.   I am THANKFUL for it.  But packing and unpacking to pack and unpack again every 2nd week was tiresome.

And of course,  those that know me also know how much Murphy’s Law loves me. Every single time I made the trip. weather was CRAP!  I drove through torrential rains, hail stones, snow so thick you couldn’t see beyond the front bumper so you watched out for tail lights.  Every single weekend, it was SOMETHING.   I am CONVINCED that Murphy’s Law and Mother Nature are in cahoots and figured they’d torture me for shits and giggles just to see if I’d ever cancel on my gals due to bad weather and treacherous highway roads. I never did.  I’m a stubborn bitch that way.  I NEVER cancelled due to weather a single time! I refused to let anyone down.  Keeping in mind, I have only 9yrs of driving experience. Added to that, most of the experience was in the wee little suburban town of Chateauguay. NOT highway driving with crazy people going at 160km/hr.   But I will say, I’m now semi-crazy and go 120km LOL   I learn fast 😉 if you’ll pardon the pun.

A couple of months in, things aren’t going so well at my new location. It seems that some can’t abide by the terms of an agreement, so I cut my losses and I politely said “no thank you” and parted ways while I packed up my gear again, loaded up the van and trucked my stuff home.

During this time, still making my biweekly trips to Chateauguay.

I looked everywhere for a location.  Checked out several places. Contacted several salons. I simply could not find a good fit.  Then I saw a place that was opening soon, and wondered if they had a nail tech?  I issued emails and left a few phone messages (ok, I was a tad pushy hahaha) Finally the owner agreed to meet me. Bianca’s Salon then became the new home for my business.  So packing and unpacking again to set myself up in Bianca’s Salon.  YAY finally at rest!

Whoops spoke too soon.  Forgot- still making biweekly trips to Chateauguay and packing and then unpacking, to pack and unpack again.

did I tell you that I am heartily sick and tired of packing and unpacking?  It is enough to drive you insane because no matter how many times you’ve done it, or how thorough you are, you ALWAYS forget something – EVERY TIME.  No matter how careful you are, and fastidious, something always gets broken or spilled.  Without fail.

As I said, moving stresses me out and aggravates me.  So when the time came to quit my biweekly trips to Chateauguay, as I became more in demand here in Ontario, I breathed a GIANT sigh of relief, happy danced all over my house and at the salon. Several times.  I repeated over and over how thankful I was that it was DONE! No more packing and unpacking. FINISHED! That’s it that’s all.

Damn Murphy. DAMN DAMN DAMN MURPHY!  When I find Murphy and his book of laws, I’m gonna beat him with that book until he cries like a little girl!  And if that doesn’t get the job done, I’m going to hop into my 15yr old rusty mini-van and run his ass over a few times, just for good measure!

We’re moving again.  Yup.  It turns out that our landlord really should go by an entirely different name.  Suffice to say the electrical aspects of the salon were severely lacking and even dangerous. Yes, a ceiling light fixture erupted into sparks, smoke and FLAMES right over a client’s head.

Damn…………….. moving again.

So now we’ve moved and omg point me to the right god to pray to that I don’t ever have to do this again in the near future but I have had enough.  As with moving, there are ALWAYS hiccups, and things broken, things forgotten and things lost.  But, we got it done.

On the bright side?  Our new digs are super hot and I can’t wait to see you all there!

PS: if you see Murphy, please tell him I’m looking for him…………………..

Words matter

I love words. As far back as I can remember, I have LOVED words.  I would voraciously read anything I could get my hands on.  Growing up, one wall of our basement was floor to ceiling with shelves of books. We had books in our bedrooms. There were books everywhere and that was fine,   I loved to read.  Every time I came across a word I didn’t know, out came the dictionary.   My parents even invested in “The Encyclopedia Britannica”  (oops, showing my age here!).  There were days I would pull one off the shelf at random and flip through it, reading a bit here and there. No rhyme nor reason to it.

Funnily enough, one year, I was failing English class in Elementary.  I think it was grade four.  Not because I wasn’t bright. More-so because I was bored in class, the teacher talked too much.  Curious, isn’t it?  hehehe  That summer I was made to read book after book and write one report after another, by my parents.  One book was ‘The Complete Tales of Washington Irving’. You might not recognize his name, but he is the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Better known as “The Headless Horseman”.  I also read several pieces by Jack London. Yes, he did write other books aside from ‘The Call of the Wild’. There were several other classic authors whose work I read. When I began writing those book reports, I muttered and grumbled.  At the outset, I wasn’t the happiest kid. It was summer vacation! I wanted to be out playing!  But then something happened.

A writer was born.

I’m certainly no great Shakespeare.  I often think I should like to write a great novel.  But there’s only 24hrs in a day.  I make no claims to eloquent inspiration of others, but have often been accused of being a walking dictionary.  In adolescence, as most girls do, I dabbled in poetry. I’ve been told I’m good. But HEY, your friends HAVE to be nice, right?  😉   I do sincerely enjoy playing with words, and trying  to bend them to my will to paint a picture in one’s mind.  I enjoy using words that are lost in today’s modern vocabulary. Just as I don’t like to do the same French manicure over and over, WHY should I want to use the same words over and over when there are so many different ones out there? Ahh but therein lies the crux.

Words matter. Each and every one of them. Their unique definitions make all the difference in the world as to why one word should be used and not another.  No two words are the same, nor mean exactly the same thing. Some appear to do so, but they don’t. Not really.

And that brings us to the Nail Industry. How? Why?

Because proper and accurate communication is important if you are to be considered a Professional, and regarded by others as  a Professional.  It is paramount if we are all to understand each other correctly.  It is fundamental if we are Educators and wish our students to succeed.  It is vital if we want to improve the status quo of the industry and raise standards.

Imagine if I went to the garage, and said to the mechanic ” the dooflickey is making a whirwhir noise, and sometimes ticky-tock” and then he in turn called his distributor and tried to order the part needed and referred to it as a ‘dooflickey’.  It’s a sure bet that the distributor will hang up on him thinking he’s some idiot and not a professional mechanic.  What if I were to visit the hospital, and complained to the Doctor of my symptoms; and he spoke to me in the same fashion without benefit of proper terminology with regards to my health issues?  Do I want a doctor that doesn’t seem Professional?   OR WORSE, what would be the end result if he wrote down on my file exactly as I described them, with MY terminology and then sent me to a specialist with that file?  What are the odds that the specialist is going to call the doctor and say “WTF are you talking about? Do you even have a license to practice medicine?”  Maybe that Specialist won’t make the call and will just make an educated guess and low and behold, I get the wrong treatment?

“Professionals” are expected to communicate like Professionals.  Not as average consumers.  Consumers EXPECT “Professionals” to be professional.  Now I’m not saying you can’t kid around or share laughs with them.  What I am saying is that when you speak to them, use the right words.

For a very simple example; the word Cuticle is often used in place of Eponychium.  Please note: these are two very different things!

Now there are those that will argue that it really doesn’t matter.  Oh, but it DOES.  If you are asking for help, and I ask you to describe your PREP and you say that you pushed back the cuticle. So I wonder, does she mean she pushed back the eponychium and removed the cuticle? Did she only push the eponyhium and left the cuticle on the plate? Etc etc and off we go, trying to be sure that the PREP was done properly.  Now that is only a simple example, but you get my point.

Then there are those that say “My clients don’t care what words I use and don’t know the difference”.  Wrong!   They do care, and they will know when you explain. I have proven exactly that for several years.  It is very standard at my table that at the very first appointment, I explain all that I am doing to my client and why.  I do use the word eponychium and  I do explain it’s purpose and why we don’t cut it or remove it.  I also explain what a cuticle is and why we DO remove it.   Nine times out of ten, a client will tell me “WOW I didn’t know that!  I’m glad to know! You really know your stuff! You’re very different from those other places. They are so unprofessional”.  AHHH HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA there it is.  You see? Their perception of your professionalism is often based on how you choose to communicate.

When we become parents, everyone offers advice. One bit of advice almost all parents receive is “don’t baby-talk to your kids. speak to them properly and they’ll speak properly”.   I know this to be true with my children who are now 10 & 12yrs old.  Even as infants and toddlers, we never resorted to using baby-words with them.  The end result? Two children who read and write very well, and who are very articulate.   Many parents follow this same bit of advice.

So why is it so difficult to understand the necessity of using the correct terms in our industry?

For more on my rant, see an older post on Facebook   (more…)