Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Choosing nail products to resell

Deciding to resell nail products is a major decision for any nail salon or school. In time it can allow to earn a regular income and one that's many times more than you can make as a nail technician working in a salon. But there are risks:

  • You will need buy stock. You may have the money to do this or you may have to take a loan - if so, can you afford the payments if sales are slow? Will you have to secure your home to obtain the loan? If the supplier cancels your contract, or you don't make enough money what position will you be in?
  • It will use up your time. If you are already working as a nail technician or running a salon, deciding to start selling products is like starting a new business. You will have to invest your time and money in marketing and selling, and this may reduce the money you make in the salon. It's very difficult to run two businesses at the same time - often one will suffer. If you have a lot of money then you might decide to hire someone to help you - just be careful it's someone you can trust who won't set up their own business later and compete with you!

You will need to estimate the time for your new business to reach break-even, this means to make a profit (and pay you a salary). Whatever time you estimate, multiply it by a factor of three - remember most new business fail because of insufficient money - they thought it would be easier or be successful faster that it was.

Find out if the manufacturer sells directly. There are few manufacturers who are happy to appoint local resellers but equally happy to make special offers via their websites and then poach the customers of their local school/reseller's. Some will also setup other resellers in your area if they think your sales are too low are not building fast enough - or worse they will cancel your contract and you could be left with $1000's of stock you can't sell. With some manufacturers it will always be tough for you to make money from selling products and build a long term business. So check the reputations of the manufacturers and talk to their out of state resellers to find out what the deal really is like when you buy in.

If you decide to resell, make sure you get a contract and understand what the manufacturers expectations are. I've heard a few stories lately about manufacturers that either don't give contracts or failed to give a copy of the signed contract to their reseller and then when they canceled the contract unexpectedly the reseller doesn't have a contract to take to their lawyer.

Don't buy into the manufacturers marketing or hype until you've proved it's honest. Good marketing does not mean it's a good product for you (or that it's even a good product) - it only means they are good at marketing. Look at who's behind the company and what their experience is in the nail industry. There's some fairly dubious claims out there so only believe what you can see, have tested or have been recommended to by people you trust.

Most nail technicians are not trained in business, so ask questions and get professional help. Some countries have government run business centers where start-up company's can get advice from experienced business people free.

I hope that some of these suggestions are helpful.
Bob Giblett

Monday, April 27, 2009

Choosing nail products for the salon

I like to use a wide variety of materials from different gel and acrylic (liquid and powder) manufacturers for my nail art. Most nail artists that I've met do the same, we pick and choose what we think are the best products from different company's and then use whichever is most suitable for a specific nail art design.

In my salon I have also used different manufacturers products over the years. Mostly I create gel nails, but I also create acrylic nails for some customers. Normally it's not possible to use only one manufacturers products because I usually find that there is one item in their range that I don't like.

Finding good salon products isn't easy, as first it's necessary to take some form of cross-over training to learn the specific preparation steps and then it takes months of testing before you get to trust and know how a product works.

When I'm choosing a product for my salon it has to meet the following requirements:
  • the finished nails must look excellent
  • be strong enough for my customers lifestyle - my salon nails are the thickness of a credit card
  • nails don't lift, even after many infills
  • don't yellow
  • quick to apply with practice
Price is not a major concern for me. I'd rather pay more if I have to and not lose customers due to an inferior product.

So if you are thinking about changing products, here's a few things that I've learned:

1. Always take the manufacturers cross-over training to learn the correct preparation and application.

2. Test the products on friends, not customers. This sounds obvious but when I first moved to Sweden and couldn't buy the gel I used in Kiev, I bought a Kit from one of the big names and did a cross-over training. Three months later many of my clients nails started to lift after they have been infilled a few times. I spoke to the supplier but never got to the bottom of this. The supplier claimed it was my faulty application - but couldn't offer other suggestions (funnily enough, I later heard from a number of techs who had the same problem - which kind of suggests the product is not forgiving). Fortunately, I only had a handful of clients at the time and they stuck with me through this. But the moral of the story is never trust a product until you've done your own testing and test a variety of products before committing to use a new product on all your clients. Also have a Plan B if you find months later the product is not what you expected.

3. Decide what you want of the product and manufacturer. Are you only looking for a product you can buy from various sources, or do you want a deeper relationship with the manufacturer or supplier?

  • Some manufacturers don't employ full time educators so while you can get cross-over training easily enough, if you want to advance to educator or global educator etc - it might be difficult as they may only run courses once a year or less.
  • Do they offer the kind of training you want? If you are thinking about competing - do they offer competition classes? Or if you are interested in nail art - do they have good educators for this?
  • What's their reputation for support if you have questions? Is there someone local you can call or go visit?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Premiere Orlando

Bob and I will be exhibiting for the first time in the USA at the Premiere Orlando show from June 5 to 8. I am also an Educator and will be presenting on Sunday and Monday from 11.45 to 12.45. If you visit our booth, you can also see me creating nail art designs at different times during the show.

You can read more about this in the pdf that Bob created for the show catalog here.

Hope that we will see you there! We're really looking forward to be in the US again!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to use a compact camera to make nail photographs

This question has been asked a few times recently on different nail forums. So I'm reprinting a post Bob made a few weeks ago with his suggestions:

If I make a nail photo using a compact camera I try not to use the flash - with the camera so close it over lights the nail and washes it out. Much better to use natural daylight, but preferably indirect light. A cloudy day is the best indirect light - there's no one light source like the sun to create bright spots on the nail or dark shadows. If you're photographing indoors and it's bright outside so several windows cause reflections on the nail - get yourself a sheet and create a tent around the sides of the nail to diffuse the light from the windows.

If you're at an exhibition or training, using the flash is unavoidable. However, before you go, stick a bit of the scotch tape over the flash - it will make the light softer! (use that easy to remove scotch tape not that darn sticky stuff you can't get off your fingers)

Macro is good - but most modern compact camera's have a picture resolution of 8 million pixels or more. What's a pixel - it's a dot of colour used to make up the photo (or show images on your PC screen or tv). 8 million of these blighters is a lot - means you can get good photo quality up to A3 size - bigger than most of us need to put nail photo's on our websites. So you don't have to use macro - simply take the photo and then cut out the nail part of the image to get a closer look. I use Photoshop to edit photographs or re-size them but cheaper software is out there, such as Picasa which is surprisingly good and a free download from Google: http://picasa.google.com/. Note that when you use this non-macro technique, get as close to the nail as the focus on the camera will allow - don't be a million miles away because you will never be able to see the nail close up on print in good quality.

Macro has the advantage it's like a zoom - you can take very close up shots. But the downside is that the depth of focus is less - so the top of the nail might be in focus but the base of the nail may not be (if you don't use macro, the depth of focus is bigger). You need to experiment a bit with your camera to find out what it's limits are here.

Another tip if you use flash is to angle the nail in such a way as the flash doesn't hit the nail head on (90 degrees) - the highlight cause by the flash will be less. Unfortunately so see the nails most clearly that's usually what you have to do. Just move around, take different shots and be lucky!

One final point - before you take the photo, try to think of an interesting background or theme. This will really help to give the photo's "life. Personally, I find this and composing the model the most difficult part - but when it works, it really works! You can look at old nail mags to see get ideas, I also visit jewelry websites for inspiration ;-)

All the photo's below were taken in natural light in a salon. The camera was a cheapo Casio but with 8 Mpixels. No macro was used. We call this one our working girl series - we did it for fun. Iryna is the model and made her own nails. Personally - I like close ups of the nails but also photo's which show the nails in real life situations - I hope Iryna's customers can then better visualise how the nails would look if they had them.

Registration documents for Nailympics 2009 London

If you are thinking about competing in this years Nailympics in London, here are the documents you will need:

Competition Registration form
Nailympics Brochure

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nail Art Poster and Mouse Mats

Bob has been busy the last few days and created a series of large posters and mouse mat designs that we are able to sell through a new web shop. All of the products are based on photographs of my nail designs; many of these have been published in different nail magazines.

We came across the idea having looked around to see what nail posters are already available for salons. There wasn't much choice that we could find and nearly all of the posters we saw only pictured french nails with fairly similar themes.

So we saw a gap in the market for nail art posters that have not only been professionally photographed but offer a unique fashion style. In other words, the kind of posters that we would like to hang up in our salon and would inspire both us and our clients.

Have we succeeded? Only time will tell. But take a look for yourself and please do feel free to send your comments to my email at the top of this page, or post them on this blog. Thanks!

Click this link to take a look: Nail Art Gifts webshop

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nail competitions in Moldova

When I was visiting Russia a few weeks ago, I met Svetlana Deliu who manages the Moldovian national nail art team. "Sveta" is a lovely woman who gives freely of her time to train the nail techs and helps to organize their local competitions. She is also an experienced competition judge and runs her own school in the capital Chisinau. As you can see from the nails below that won 2nd place at a competition in St. Petersberg in February 2009, they have some very talented nail artists there:

From April 29 to May 3 they will have national competitions, so it was very nice of Sveta to invite me to visit as one of the judges. The competitions will include P&L, Gel, Nail art on French and Mixed Media.

During our conversations, Sveta explained that in the past Moldova had not been able to send their P&L/Gel winners to the International Nail Championships that are held in Düsseldorf Germany each year, often called the World Championships. Instead the nail techs from Moldova had to compete in the Ukrainian championships to win a place and that the distance and costs involved meant that many nail techs couldn't afford to make this journey.

Bob called Tina Werle who is the organizer of the INC and we learnt that providing we strictly follow the INC rules and conditions of neutrality, Moldova would be welcome to participate in next years competition! So now the L&P and Gel competitions on May 3rd have taken on a whole new dimension - Sveta has told us that the nail techs there are really excited and are so very pleased to have the competitions in Moldova recognised in this way! Big thanks to Tina for helping to make this possible!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April issue of Scratch and Gloss

April's Scratch arrived this morning and it was a real treat to see some of my work published. Although I knew several months ago that some photo's would be used, when you see them in the magazine it always feels like a surprise!

In addition to the step-by-step above, the Gloss special feature on nail trends contained some of my tip designs. These are part of a new spring/summer collection of 24 designs that I created a few weeks ago: