For me, coming from another country, getting a manicure was an absolute luxury, only afforded by rich broads of London and the burbs. We just didn’t have those corner chop shops that you have here in the U.S. And believe me, you could expect to pay upwards of $100 to get your hands and nails treated.
When I moved to America in the early 90s, I was like a kid in a sweet shop! $12 for a manicure and $15 for a pedicure? Sign me up every Thursday please!! Even today, prices haven’t really changed, you can still get the same amazing deal, but then let’s face it – you get what you pay for, and I really paid for it. Here’s how it went down:
About nine years ago I went to my same local nail shop, got my same $25 mani pedi deal, same charcoal grey that I love on my toes – paid, tipped well and left. (Let met also say that I thought it was normal during and after a service, par for the course, for my skin to bleed and for nail techs to cut my cuticles off and dig around inside my nail beds for nonexistent gold!!) So let’s cut to two weeks after that, after my toes began to feel swollen and my feet started to feel as though a herd of buffalo had done a River Dance on them. I decided to take my polish off myself and take a look at what was going on. Problem was, the polish wasn’t coming off of my two big toe nails, and that’s when I realized my nails were black – the fungus was most definitely among-us! PANIC!!!!
It took several rounds of antibiotics and several warnings from a very expensive podiatrist in Beverly Hills, to be told my tech had cut my skin so much, dug around so badly and probably used dirty instruments on me, enough to give me a very bad bacterial infection and a fungus that after nine years will still not BLOODY go away!!! I swore up and down that I would never get a manicure/pedicure again and on my doctor’s advice, for a long time, I did my own services in the comfort of my home.
When I opened Queen Bee some time ago, I didn’t even consider having a nail department, because “WHY?”. After enduring what I had why would I put my clients through the same deal? I just assumed all nail techs had the same technique. That was until I met Connie Flagg – who at the time was one of the lead manicurists at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills where you can expect to pay upwards of $80 for a great mani and upwards of $100 for a pedi. After entrusting Connie with my horrid hands and Hobbit-looking feet, I decided we had to lure her away from the hotel and make her part of the Queen Bee team. Thank God she was completely mental enough to leave and come on full time!!! I sat down with her last week and asked some nosy questions.
Here are her responses:
1. We know that a lot of nail shops are referred to as “Chop Shops”. My understanding is that these shops are convenient, cheap and less hassle than making appointments at the more expensive nail salons. If people simply have to go this route, what should they look for in a good service? Also, what are the danger signs that they are getting a bad service? For example, should it hurt that much to get my nails cut and why do I come out bleeding sometimes?
Convenience in a nail salon is a great perk but because California has hundreds of nail salons there is definitely lots of room for error. I think a clean environment is key from every standpoint – especially when it comes to your manicurist tools and equipment. Germs can be transferred so quickly with dirty implements and equipment. Ask questions, find out the how much experience your manicurist has. Be informed.
2. What is the secret to making a regular polish last? And how long should it last?
Start with a clean, dry, nail and use a polish that is in good condition. We also factor in what kind of lifestyle a client has. Polish isn’t indestructible and wearability varies from hand to hand. I enjoy the challenge of creating the right individual combination of techniques to give a client the longest wear on a manicure.
3. What are your thoughts on the latest Gel and Shellac craze?
I’m amazed at the advancements in the nail industry over the last few years. I love that there are improved options. All of these advancements require updating my industry knowledge and education. I can say this… as with any and all of the artificial nail enhancements out there, do your research! Seek a true professional, and follow your professional’s advice on the at-home care and upkeep of these services. I’m a fan of “less is more” so using Shellac or Gels or any of these services for special occasions can be a great alternative. I’ve made it a point to understand my clients’ individual needs and habits so I can know what services to direct them to.
4. Do you think a lot of nail techs could use further education when they leave school?
Of course! Education comes in various forms: classes, tapping the knowledge of other professionals, publications, and my personal favorite…going into a local salon/spa and booking a service. It keeps me up on who and what is going on in the industry. I couldn’t imagine not being in the heartbeat of things.
So what really constitutes a great manicure/pedicure? For me, it’s peace of mind knowing that my nail tech is smart, clean, at the top of her game, and a true artist. It’s knowing that even if I don’t leave with the latest color on my nails, I still can feel comfortable going out in public. Manicure/pedicures are a treatment and it is very important to know that you are getting what you pay for. I will always invest in the latest and greatest products at Queen Bee – using only vegan, cruelty free and as chemical-free-as-you-can-get products such as SpaRitual and Butter of London. You get what you pay for, and again, I can attest that I really did.