What is a good first question to ask prospective clients in the salon?

Try: "If there is anything you could change about your nails, what would it be?" It provides a perfect avenue to have a conversation with someone about her nails, and by recommending a simple at-home treatment you can increase retail sales and maybe even sell a service.

New hair stylists may not picture themselves ever taking nail clients, but Angelina Wingle, education ambassador for Creative Nail and a nail technician at The Spa at the Hershey Hotel in Hershey, PA, says it's not that unusual for hair professionals to cross over into nails. She herself did it 19 years ago, when the salon where she was working as a stylist needed someone to do nail enhancements. She jumped at the opportunity to add to her repertoire of skills, and found something that she likes even more than working with clients' hair and skin.

where nails and hair meet

"The best part about it is actually being face-to-face with the client and creating relationships," says Wingle. "When you do hair and facials, you're behind the person. But in doing nails, you're holding their hands, and there is power in that touch."

For a person who wants to branch out into nails from hair, Wingle recommends attending every education class you can and doing nails weekly to hone your skills, even if that means practicing on yourself or your friends. "If you go to a class and then don't practice, when a client comes in, you'll be struggling," she says.

increasing your business

In the salon/spa environment, usually hairstylists are bringing in most of the clients. So your best bet, to begin with, is networking in the salon with the busiest stylists and making sure to talk to the owner as well. When you do treatments for the stylists, it opens the door for them to recommend you to their clientele. The owner can also be your advocate, but you can't be afraid to talk to him or her -- even though, typically, the owner is a hair stylist and not familiar with the nail business.

"When I started, the salon owner helped by going around telling all the key clients about me and how well I did nails," Wingle recalls. "She really helped build my business in that salon. Sometimes it's not enough to do it yourself; it helps to have someone else in the salon promoting you."

You can then offer complimentary services, like a polish change or a natural nail treatment with a buff and shine, as clients wait for an appointment or for their color to process. Once you've booked a client and treated her to a great service, even just a quick thank-you postcard as a follow-up is a great business builder. Above all, says Wingle, "Stick with it, have patience and be motivated to promote yourself!"

Must-Have Tools for Starting Out in Nails

  1. pusher or curette to clean away debris
  2. nippers for hangnails
  3. quality abrasives or files
  4. natural nail buffers for shine
  5. cuticle oil
  6. good base coats, nail enamel and top coats
Hair Stylists can expand into nail services