Friday, 23 January 2009

Step forward or Step Back!

I probe the industry experts on the value of the pedicure treatments on the competition cirquit.
Pedicure is now becoming a popular service within our businesses, as a substantial treatment it is not only profitable to us as nail technicians and salon owners but beneficial to the clients for their well being. We are constantly striving to raise the standards of nail treatments in the UK and show our peers and in turn the clients what a professional and superior service we have to offer them.
The importance of competitions within the industry can’t be denied, it is more than just what an individual can gain, instead it helps the industry grow, raising the standards and highlighting the areas we need to improve on.
So when I was asked to help judge a brand new category - pedicure in the Baltic’s last year, I was excited to learn how this new competition class might work and if it would be a success. What would it bring to the industry as a whole and would it benefit the nail professional of today? I was also curious to learn why we have not given the UK & US professionals a platform to show off their skills in this way.
In my role as Global educator I have had the honour of working with Onik Beta, the largest distributor in Latvia for the last couple of years, Elena Tarlavskaya, owner and founder of Onik Beta also devotes her time organizing the international competitions for the Baltic’s, she says “ we consider the care of feet an important part of the nail business, and try to make it more popular, drawing attention to this service helps technicians show their work and strive to be the best” Inspired by the growing need to incorporate pedicures as a regular part of the manicure service Elena understands the importance of this category helping to increase the professionalism, she goes onto to say that “ participating in these types of competition helps raise the standards, and helps business raise awareness to the public”.
With this in mind I wanted to ask some other industry experts, with extensive experience organizing, running and judging at competitions all around the world. What did they think of this category and why it hasn’t been introduced before? Would it in their opinion help the industry?
The competition in Latvia was very well attended with 12 girls all using professional brands, each competitor was required to do only one foot, leaving the other for comparison, the skin on the legs and feet where checked before the competition which was to run for 1 hour. There were 5 international judges and we were all asked to oversee the quality of application and standards, professionalism and cleanliness. We then were required to judge the shape and length of the nails, quality of the cuticle work and free edge, overall look of the skin and callus work. Finally with only the large toe polished in a brilliant red supplied by OPI we judged the application, the rest of the toes where left natural with no base or top coat. No oil was allowed to be used either. In reflection Elena tells me “ this first competition was a success attracting girls who had never competed before, but in the future we see the need to change the criteria and make it more in-depth, this is a learning curve and we are extremely satisfied with the results” She also points out “ this championship has been met with interest attracting media both trade and consumer including TV, don’t let the logistics of setting up this category put you off, it is a valuable asset to this ever growing industry”.
Those I have spoken with have little experience with pedicure being part of the competitions, Jamie Schrabeck PhD from Precision Nails with her extensive practice in directing competitions in the US say’s “ from a logistical standpoint manicuring competitions are so much easier to manage, other than callus work the skills required are identical” she goes on to tell us that “ the problems we have with pedicures in our industry involve dirty foot spas and overly aggressive callus work” she thinks “ the pedicure competition won’t change that, in fact competitions in the US have little impact on the industry.” Jamie also judges the larger international competitions in Japan and Korea, and she says they have a greater participation, support and importance within their industry.

Here in the UK Denise Wright of NSI, competition winner, judge and now directs and organizes the Professional Nail competitions nationwide agrees that “any competition is a benefit as it makes the technician look at their own professionalism and how they work” but she goes onto to say that by including pedicure into a nail competition it would lose the concept of what a nail competition is all about and feels that “pedicure would come under the beauty category”.

Vicki Peters has wowed the industry with her championship nails and work featured worldwide, an industry leader Vicki told me that it has been years since she has seen a pedicure competition in the states and with the recent sanitation issues might be a difficult category to organize. But agrees that it is an interesting concept and would draw a lot of attention to the show floor since most of us incorporate pedicures to our treatment plan. Vicki disagrees with Jamie telling me “just as traditional competitions elevated the artificial nails and produced some well known experts, it can do the same thing for pedicurists. It is also a great salon marketing opportunity, competitors advertising there experience among the highest ranking pedicurists” the most important thing to remember though she says “we all know the main benefit of any competition is the learning factor”.

So if a pedicure category within the competition could be deemed as a beauty treatment is there some other way we could utilizes the nails services on the foot, Jacqui Jefford whose role within the nail and beauty industry has been a large part of its growth and development over the last 25 years, was excited when I told about this concept “ everyone knows I love feet, and feet play an important part in the education of nail technicians, we see this category as part of the UK skills championships in colleges, however it is a beauty treatment” Jacqui says “ it is very important to offer a full range of categories within a competition, the benefits of incorporating feet is good for the industry, these trade competition raise the industry’s profile and ultimately the standards of the service” as we discussed this further Jacqui went on to say that “ with the ever expanding demand for ‘tarty toes’, we could incorporate categories for nail enhancements and nail art”. Denise Wright also sees a potential of including a nail service on the toes “with the popularity of gel toes and art ect, I can see a development in this area”

Alex Fox editor for Scratch is another important person in the competition arena, bringing us the UK Nail Olympics, which draws competitors from around the world, she was the first one I spoke to about why pedicure is important to the industry and competitions, “there are many nail professionals out there that specialize in feet and as yet there is no platform to show case their skills. It is an integral part of the industry and has been left unnoticed, it’s time pedicure was recognised and experts in this field acknowledged. We discussed how this category could elevate the industry as a whole and Alex said “by recognising the skills and craft involved in this treatment you upgrade its persona, elevate its professionals and naturally give it more kudos. It also makes people strive to be the best they can be which can only be a benefit to all”
Incorporating a pedicure category is important to the industry there is no doubt, we have also touched on how it can benefit the competitor, but what about our clients who are after all the most important part of our careers. Vicki Peters mentioned that the marketing for us as competitors within any competition can be an enormous help, telling your clients about the industry and how it judges our skills and professionalism regularly can only strengthen the business. I wanted to find out more about how it would impact the service we offer, would it highlight the strengths and weaknesses within the treatment, as it has done for nail enhancements, and with the raise in popularity for fantasy, design and nail art, show a good reason why developing this area into that of excellence can help the nail tech provide a better treatment for the clients.

Victoria Smith, founder of Safe Salons works closely with the techs running salons nationwide, and guides the consumer giving advice on a safe salon; she says “We are seeing more and more salons really utilize this service by marketing a range of prescriptive pedicure treatments. Prescriptive treatments involve the client in their choice of service.” Excited about the competition she points out “the competition arena ultimately increases a Technicians level of skill. Preparing for competitions promotes time management and great attention to detail; greatly improving performance within a salon environment, incorporating a pedicure category will also raise the profile of this service and increase standards amongst technicians.” Victoria can see a potential in including this within any competition area as she is constantly working with technicians to improve the standards within the industry “The pedicure as a service can be very complex and it is vital for a technician to have completed all aspects of underpinning knowledge in order to provide a safe treatment. The pedicure as a prescriptive treatment will incorporate a range of massage techniques which means the technician must have a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology alongside safe hygiene practices. The NVQ ensures technicians have the underpinning knowledge to provide safe and hygienic treatments within the salon.”
In Latvia Elena works hard at helping increase professional growth, helping techs know their products and technology, she feels that “pedicure as part of the business is not presented enough to the public” and was part of the stimulus to including this category within her competition.
The questions I have to ask, is this a nail category or a beauty category and how important is this category for the nail technician and their clients. My answer; I think both are equally important, working hand in hand, the awareness to the pedicure treatment can only go to improving it, regardless of which industry it belongs to, beauty or nails. The pedicure still needs to be recognised as a valuable service for both the consumer and technician, ultimately ‘feet are important to our well being’ and looking after them should be a normal thing to do.

This article was featured in Scratch January edition 2009.


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