What is it really like, to work in the beauty biz? Find out with our new interview series!
So you love nails and want to become a nail technician? Dying to make money with your makeup skills? We can tell you all about getting the right beauty education, but what is it really like as a J.O.B.? What does it take to become successful? To help you gain more insight we decided to let established beauty professionals give you a peek in their world…and here’s the first interview!
First a bit about the nailsaloon, where Gigi is a nail technician
The nailsaloon is not your typical salon as it is focused on creating a non-toxic, relaxing experience for it’s customers. It was started by two close friends who decided to realize their vision for the perfect nail salon experience. They have a great website too. It is very user-friendly, yummy to look at and brimming with personality (and witty writing!). And as you can tell by the interview with Gigi it is also a great place to work.
Take it away, Gigi!
Tell our audience a little about yourself
I was born in Mongolia. I grew up in Ulaanbaatar, which is capital of Mongolia and a really beautiful place. My father was a police officer. He passed away when I was 15. My mother worked in retail, but is retired. I am married, and live in Arlington VA. I work full-time at the nailsaloon in Washington, DC.
Can you describe your work?
I do manicures, pedicures and waxing at our salon. We don’t do gel polish or acrylic nails. The polishes we use are 5-free, vegan and cruelty free. It’s nice to know that we aren’t breathing in toxins while we are at work.
Have you always wanted to be a nail technician?
I went to law school in my country, Mongolia, but I decided to start a small business after I graduated. It was a men’s fashion shop, and it actually did pretty well. In 2008 I came to the U.S. to study. I decided I also wanted to go to barber and cosmetology school to get a nail technician license. The first nail technician job I had was at a spa in Virginia, and I really fell in love with doing nails. One day I hope to open my own salon.
What kind of training have you received?
I have been working as a nail technician for almost nine years. I worked at that spa for three years, then at a nail salon for five years and now I’m at the nailsaloon where I’ve been for about one year.
Can you describe a typical work day?
I get up in the morning, stretch, drink my coffee and eat oatmeal or an egg. Then, I walk to the subway to go to work. We have to get work before 15 minutes before our shift starts so we can prep for the day. We usually spend some time refilling the salt and sugar scrubs each morning. Since we don’t use preservatives in our scrubs we have to make them in small batches. This means they have to be re-mixed almost every day. We are also constantly sterilizing tools and cleaning the saloon. I have a lot of clients I see on a regular basis but every day I meet many new people, which is lovely.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I love making nails clean and beautiful. It makes our clients happy and that makes me happy. Everyone is happy!
Can you name one of the least enjoyable sides, and how do you deal with this?
My least favorite thing about my job is cleaning up after my shift is over because cleaning up is never a fun thing to do whether at home or at work. But it has to be done since one of the most important things at the nailsaloon is our clean and healthy environment.
Can you describe a setback you experienced when you started your work as a nail technician?
A challenge I faced when I first started learning how to do nails was working with acrylics. I had a hard time but I was able to get pretty good. Now I don’t even have to do them at my current job.
Can you also describe an important milestone, or another success experience you had with your job?
I remember when I first started reading Yelp reviews and saw such great feedback. At the nailsaloon any time a good review is written it’s shared with the team. If there’s ever a review that has not-so-good feedback our management talks to us about it so we can all see what can be done better. Thankfully my reviews have been great. That’s really boosted my confidence in what I do.
What are qualities someone should have to become a nail technician?
Patience is a big quality that someone should have if they want to pursue a career as a nail technician. They also have to have the perseverance to do their best every single day.
What would be the first step someone should take if they’re thinking about becoming a nail professional?
I think you should research to fully understand what you are getting into. You should research where you can train and know what it will cost you to get a certification. But the most important thing to know is that this is a job that requires a lot of focus and attention to detail, but it’s not just about doing nails. It’s about customer service. You have to make each client feel special and taken care of.
Thank you so much for your time Gigi, and to the nailsaloon for making our very first interview possible! We are sure it has provided a lot of insights for future nail techs. Keep on rocking those non-toxic nails 🙂
Our take-away from Gigi’s story:
A passion for creating beautiful nail art is important, but what counts even more is nurturing your clients. It’s more about people, and less about “doing nails”. Another aspect we learned from Gigi is that the work environment is very important, and that you should research what type of salon you want to work in, and if there are nail salons near you that fit your work style.
So, this was our FIRST interview – we hope you liked it! If you have any questions or suggestions, or you know a great cosmetologist, nail tech or barber we should interview comment below or contact us!