Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Nail education...how do you like yours

I had a conversation with my mum the other day about the different opportunities today for nail techs to learn something new. We have the actual face to face workshops and seminars, DVD's and downloads, online subscribed learning. There is also the FREE stuff on YouTube too. But which one is right for you? Have you thought about how you learn, absorb the information and how you can improve this? 

Studies show that online educational programs work. In fact, students today are so used to using the internet that more and more education is now being provided online as it is effective and efficient, it facilitates an easy transference of information where as in the class room the student has more of a passive learning experience and individual learning styles could be ignored. The class structure is stricter with less freedom to absorb and practise when you're ready.  

Face to face learning and online learning is down to personal preference, and I feel the future of the nail industry will hold a place for both to be accessible readily so that your education could become a blended learning experience. 

Heading off to a workshop or class may help to commit to learning at that moment in time.    You are also surrounded (we hope) by like minded people and you are encouraged by the tutor being available if you have an issue. 
Online learning, on the other hand, may be better for certain learning styles as the learning is at a practical rate for the student. So, for instance, someone like me who likes to work quickly and prefers to work along side a demonstration, online learning means I have control of the fast forward and pause buttons. 

Any profession requires a level of re-investment; your continued learning, improving and skill building is what will make you one of the best. It is how you re-invest which is important. Online learning and face to face education should be a considered investment, and if your going to learn anything worth while it is never going to be FREE! 

But what saddens me is that there is a lot of nail technicians right now spending a lot of time looking for FREE education. With the motivation to save money by making do with the snippets of nail tutorials and half explanations through YouTube videos. Generally those free tutorials are there to highlight a product, technique or promote a person - the FREE stuff never gives you the whole story! I will let you into a little secret; it is a marketing tool in order to promote and encourage you to buy into the actual focus of the tutorial. There is nothing wrong with that, I do it all the time. Personally I think some of the cup cake tutorial videos on Face book are mesmerising. But if I wanted to make a cupcake look like a puppy dog, you can bet I would be signing up to a class.   

Surely that time and effort searching for FREE education could be put to better use? What if you had someone on hand to explain where you could improve and get better after you have learnt a technique? Wouldn't that type of education be invaluable? I know there is not always the money, time or resources to re-invest in yourself. My suggestion is to spend your time and money more wisely.  

There is a simple equation you should consider in order to make you and your business successful.

and here is what you should concentrate on;

TIME -spent looking for the free stuff verse's time working at good stuff? 
MONEY - spending £100.00 on your education should give you a £1000 return 

It doesn't matter how you prefer to learn (face to face or online) both ways of learning can work hand in hand and reinforce nail education on a whole. But the one thing to consider is; learn the right stuff the right way. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Monday Morning Moan

I received a comment on a post this morning...

which wound me up something rotten, I have to tell you, it stopped me in my tracks for a few hours.
I took a breath and understood that, of course this person does not intentionally want to wind me up or insult me and would be horrified if she knew. I also had to remember; she does not know that I have just spent the whole weekend working on tutorials, free films and steps to help nail techs 'learn new techniques' and that I am tired. 
How could she know of the past 10 years worth of content I have published for real techs doing real nails.....and just because it might seem difficult she doesn't know the lessons within a lesson are the most valuable!  
So, on reflection, I am very happy I did not reply..... to her comment.

"Sam, do you ever teach for real life nails" 

I am taking this 'life lesson' as a positive; I do teach nails for real clients, I have a wealth of content available for FREE for 'real nails'  You just need to spend some time and find out what is right for you. YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK VIDEOS and more....pictorial steps (before we knew how easy it was to film) and then there is always the online learning. Which, yes, is not solely for 'real nails' but there is a heck of a lot of techniques and applications you can use in your own work. 
What I am trying to say is, you need to get what you can for each lesson; take it and turn it into something you can use in your own work.
rely on other peoples designs to just copy, reproduce and pass off as your own inspiration. 

So why out of all the comments I get, did this one touch a nerve? 
I think I felt a little used
I do give away a lot of FREE stuff, I do work hard to bring everyone something they can use in their salon work and I do think about the nail technicians and their clients before anything else.
As much as I want to, I can't make things cheaper, easier and free'er than it is already! 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I would have to disagree, it not only becomes frustrating but creates a negative feeling, tempting me to start keeping things close to my chest. 
I am not alone with this gripe, I know a lot of you have also felt the whip of imitation within your career, but look at it this way,  if your doing something right, you will be copied. 

Throughout my career I have always been questioned for giving too much away, people rarely understand how I can give away freely some of the things I have learnt on my travels and my answer to them is this; "I share freely because it is my role as an educator to help others expand their knowledge".  But when things are taken from you, or your good will is misused you are pushed into a place where you ask your self 'sharing freely might not be such a good thing'.  

Life is not FREE, we all have to make a living and I understand we are all trying to carve our own empire with original innovation and inspiration available to us. I am not blind to the fight to be the best, but lets all take one step back for a moment.  This is about the clients and not our own careers, think about the bigger picture and before you dilute your business into many different avenues because it is working for the competition, look at what your business actually needs to grow. Perhaps there is something unique and distinctive of your own you can develop instead of ripping off someone else hard work and ideas. 

For me to stay healthy, my approach to education won't change and I will keep innovating and developing my own original ideas and share freely, I know I have touched a lot of nail technicians worldwide and my actions of  sharing have helped them move forward.  

Do the same and be a leader, let the others follow, they will always be one step behind anyway. 

It is not the action that is important but how we feel about it that will make the difference! 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

I know what your biggest nail art hurdle is.

Because I have faced them myself!  One of the biggest stumbling block to creating Nail art is finding inspiration.  The second hurdle for many of my students is the lack of skills to translate this into a nail design.

Inspiration is every where, all around us we see colours, shapes and designs, but the skill is translating that onto a nail and coming up with a design. 

The one thing I see nail techs do over and over again is over compensate because of their lack of confidence and just keep adding more!  The skill of becoming a great nail artist is working out how to translate your inspiration and put the design together over 10 different nails to make it look complete.

What I am noticing is that there are a lot of nail techs looking to social media for inspiration, in fact lets loose the word social media - nail techs are looking at other peoples work and trying to recreate the looks they like.

This is where their problems start! STOP right there! Copying other peoples looks and designs will not only stunt your creativity and  hinder you, making you doubt your abilities and leave you frustrated! 

What you need to do, is find a design you like, and think about the actual application.

Ask your self....HOW? 

What did they use to create the look, was it pigment, did they get the fine lines with the nail art pen or a brush, was using alcohol and ink how they got that effect. Learn HOW, and then put forget the image. Instead draw from your inner creative and use what you have learnt to develop your own unique style. Pull two or three different nail looks together, use a technique or application from one, and colour combination from another. Perhaps the lines and patterns from a third.

Then you have a brand NEW look in your own style, and you feel good about your work!

Remember one thing I always tell my students above all else!

You need to K.I.S.S your nails.

"Keep them simple & sexy"

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The wisdom to say nothing...

The other day I overheard conversation, which turned into a little debate, both parties took it in turns to voice how they did things within their business, but getting nowhere in trying to change the opinion of the other. 

Although it is important to stand up for what you think it is right morally, It is difficult to fight the urge to prove yourself and the temptation to explain your actions to others is hard to resist.

It is the wisdom to say nothing and have faith in what you are doing is for the good of your business and the industry, which will ultimately make you the
There is no point wasting your time trying to change another’s point of view, they will still make their own opinion of you and your business. 
This valuable energy making sure everyone knows you are more than what they think you are is wasted. 

Ignore this urge, don’t feed the ego, instead send your self some love and give yourself a break. As long as you can continue with good intentions who care what anyone else thinks, surely this is all that matters.

Have you been in a situation where you wanted to shout from the roof tops because you know they are wrong, trying to inform them of this fact, or do you let them continue to insist their way is right and keep quiet. I would love to know what you think? Please leave a comment on this blog and let me know. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Is social media destroying our creativity?

Do you know the difference between inspiration and creativity? 

Creativity - The use of imagination or original ideas to create something. 
Inspiration - The process of being mentally stimulated to do something creative.

I have watched the industry grow over the last 15 years and the past 5 years have seen it become a tighter community, where everyone is available at a click of a button.

A blessing? Social media has enabled us to reach far and wide and speak to fellow nail techs on the other side of the world, making new friends instantly. It has expanded our businesses, allowed us to network and learn. We have had our eyes opened to new styles, products and application methods. The changing trends from different continents has given us knowledge we wouldn’t have had access to before. Social media has opened other avenues of awareness to help us build our own empires, like marketing and the beauty, hair and make up industries collaborating to expand what we offer to our clients and students. 

Social media and our need to share and show the world what we know has opened up a whole new way of gaining information, expanding our knowledge and learning from others for free, instantly.  

There is an influx of FREE video tutorials in abundance on the Internet. I have not only watched them, I have posted my fair share and I will continue to do so. I’ll be honest with you here; for me, posting free video tutorials is all about marketing my brand and getting my message out to you. I’m guessing this is the case for other people who post their videos too, but who cares its for free right?  

Learning online for free is something we all do in general whilst traveling, watching TV or waiting at the Doctors surgery. However this  new information and inspiration is all lost the moment we browse onto the next video.
So in reality, we learn nothing at all. We just watch a nice video and think to ourselves, 'must try that one day' or, 'I wonder where she got that brush from?’. 
What we think and feel about other people’s nails, products and even the attitudes towards clients is shouted at us in big bold capital letters, with different social media groups for just about everything.
There’s a battle to be noticed, to shine brighter than the rest of the posts, to be innovative and come up with something new and different  in order to stay ahead of the competition. 
Because of this fight to be distinctive, our timelines have been filled with so many different things, the attention span of an individual constantly being diverted and tempted towards something else more exciting and glittery.
Nail technicians are getting drowned in self doubt as they look at art work and video tutorials they hope to recreate by watching a quick 2 minute video, with no practical step by steps on how to succeed.

There are so many new avenues to education today; when I started there was limited internet, no YouTube and definitely nothing like Facebook. My only source of new information was magazines, workshops and shows. With videos and images coming up on our news feeds everyday, are we at risk of inspiration overload? We are suddenly caught like a deer in the headlights not sure where to start when it comes down to doing the work. The mixed messages and techniques floating around our heads making no practical sense at all. 

The questions I ask myself are, “Is our own inner creativity being stunted, are we loosing the ability to come up with our own unique ideas, style and be inspired by whats around us? Do we rely on our newsfeed and YouTube subscriptions to stimulate us and inspire, running the risk of not developing your own style?”
You will never be innovative or unique if you can’t learn to listen to your inner creativity. We all have it, the source of that creativity will not come out unless you’re sat in front of your nail desk, and not in front of your computer.

Stop looking to be innovating and different. Start looking for the right tools and information to build your own style, enhance the fundamental applications and develop the skills you need. That is what will make you unique and distinctive, standing out from the social media crowd. 

I would love to know what you think about this article and how you find your inspiration? Does this translate to being creative? 

Monday, 30 March 2015

I fell into the trap...

It was quite powerful to realise that the effort and energy you put into something based on fear and need is not going to reap the same satisfaction than if you created something based on truth. Oh dear, reading that it does sounds like some psychedelic hippy talk, but please bear with me because I am about to open my soul. 

I am good at being an educator and that is not because I am good at nails.  I do know my limitations and I am out shined by some amazingly talented artists out there, but the reason why I am a success is because I can see the abilities in my students and I can recognise what they need to grow and achieve. I named my business on the basis of inspiring others to be the best they can be.

But life takes you on a path, and down this path are many different turnings and obstacles, opportunities and temptations.  I have diversified into products and lately concentrated on marketing those products. I have invested money, time and more, into different aspects of business and that means the focus has changed because the pressures and responsibilities have increased. 

I started educating because of the joy I felt when I watched someone 'get it', that light bulb moment. The exchange of money for work was a by product, and something that just happened.  The ultimate goal when I created the video’s and workshops was to watch fellow nail techs benefit and grow. It seems I have forgotten about this reward for the effort I put into prepping for a class or designing a lesson and this 'payment' was just not my focus any more. Because of other commitments I fell into the trap of looking at the perceived value; effort = payment. How do you measure that payment, is it monetary or something else much deeper?

Doing nails on a client is not about getting paid, it is about doing nails. Teaching a class is not about how many attend it is about how many will learn from you. Of course life is not free, you have to make a living, to give everything away without an exchange means I would be teaching from a card board box in the street. But what should I focus on, that which pays my bills or the exchange that makes me happy. I have realised today that money is a by-product of the exchange between client and tech, or student and educator, it is not the focus. It will happen anyway, if you’re good at what you do, and give and share with passion and truth.

We all have skeletons in our closet and a past that shapes us. I have my own demons and battle with them daily. My relationship with money and acknowledgment was shaped from past emotional pain in my childhood (no blame attached) I have only just learnt that I need to delete this thinking, this outdated programming, because today I am confusing my role as an educator and business woman, and working from a place of fear and need, based on the thinking that I am not good enough.  

This year I decided to try something new in order to change how I work.  This was so I could concentrate on what I do best and selfishly what I enjoy most. Travelling the world is an amazing experience and I love doing it but leaving my family every other week is not so much fun anymore and gets lonely. With an idea of reducing my time away from home down to every other month but still educating, inspired me to develop an opportunity for nail techs to have access online to  inspiration and creative learning. Through the magic of technology I can be there for my students all the time without the pressures of travel and putting a value on being away from home. Starting my online learning program was purely selfish, and for no other reason than to stay at home.
As a business woman I was very aware that setting up the online learning,  had to be viable as I was giving up a large part of my future and investing time, money and a lot of effort. I got lost in the bottom line. Hello! far cry from WHY I went into to education, I was no longer working from a place of truth, of giving and sharing inspiration. I had fallen into the trap of worrying that I would not having enough and losing something I had already built. 

I had to change my thinking because to make money or become rich from other people is not going to give me the satisfaction I am looking for, earning an income from what I do is just a by-product that may or may not happen.  Focusing on my financial well-being on the back of other people's investment is not healthy for me. It is not about the money! It is an exchange of energy between two people which will give me a far richer reward than a few pounds. 

So I have now opened my soul to you and you have had a look at a small part of mind. How does this affect you? Your clients, no matter how rude, how inconsiderate, how un-organised they are, are part of a business you have invested in based on passion and creativity, and you did not grow this business based on a need for money or to build a retirement plan. I would hazard a guess for more than 75% of the nail techs out there you do what you do because you love your job. You have an opportunity to help each one of those clients express themselves through their nails, even if they have natural nudes or bright pinks. They are able to feel good and look good because of you and the time they spend with you.

You have affected them in a positive way. 

How many of you started this job because it was easy money? Of course not, because you and I know the truth. When the focus on our passion becomes about money, either the lack of it or the fear of losing it, our passion and creativity is affected. We begin to resent our career and those important people who helped us shape it to begin with.

So remember who you are and why you do what you do, and change your thinking. Remember what you do for a living is more than just nails, you touch people every day in ways you can only begin to imagine. No matter what the financial situation you’re in, never make your focus about money or the lack of it. Your truth is always from an exchange of energy and not pennies. 

I seem to expose myself periodically with this blog it has become my therapy as well as an opportunity to inform. I hope my honesty has helped today, being honest with mysterious elf has given me freedom. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Inspired online learning

So it has happened...

The launch of the first on line video workshop happened last Sunday, and I have to say the response in the members forum and the nails they have been producing have been amazing.

Looking for creative input in today's on line culture,  nail professionals can be found visiting you tube for a quick fix,  trying to figure out how someone has created the latest look or nail application.  Peering at their screen waiting for the  outcome of some complicated nail, without fully learning the basics or the detail on the application, is this you, do you get frustrated with the limited information available.

Let me ask you a couple of questions first...

Are you looking to up date your nail art skills?
How much would pay for a days training?
Do you see the benefit in in-depth training and feedback?

The most common problem I have found when people are trying to book  workshop is the issue of;

  • Time
  • Money
  • Schedules
  • Travel

What if you could; 

  • attend a workshop in the comfort of your own home
  • watch and re watch the weeks lesson in your own time
  • tutorials which are supported with additional materials and steps
  • 24 on line lessons, and as the member ship grows so does the amount of lessons 
  • to have access to me to give you feedback and pointers on your application and designs
  • Benefit from additional discounts and offers through the year.

How much would you be prepared to pay for this...??

 Be inspired On line with me Sam Biddle will cost you just


this is NOT per month or even per sessionthis is for the 12 months of tutorials and access to the members page, plus a whole lot more.

Seems like a good deal...maybe too good a deal?

Yes it is an affordable subscription, just the cost of 1 days workshop with me, however my aim is to provide affordable on line learning which is accessible to everyone, This cost will give you the very best learning at your own pace.


then visit the website now and sign up for the next tutorial - scheduled alternate Sundays at 4pm


The workshops over the course of 12 months will cover most areas of nail art and design. The difficulty levels of each workshop will vary, but the aim of this program is to develop your creativity and skill set and push your limits. I will guide you every step of the way and the aim is for you to learn the new applications. Each film will vary in depth and will have all the information you need. Plus with the on line group for feedback we can iron out any issues you may have.

Not quite ready to sign up - no problem.

If you want to register your interest but don't want to sign up today - then please add your name to the list, and we will keep you updated as the year progresses. 

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Currently we do not accept monthly payments, the cost of this on line membership is just £96 as a one off payment. If you prefer to pay monthly we do have an option to purchase each tutorial on an individual basis here: -

These video's will cost between £8-£12 depending on content. You will not be able to access the online members group or benefit from the discounts and offers.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The uncomfortable truth about independent education.

can't keep my mouth shut any longer

I have had a couple of days to think about what I am about to write, and be warned it may ruffle a few feathers.  After spending a day with a lovely lady on a one to one, I felt I should address some flaws I am noticing in industry education.  Previously spending a few thousand on training through independent education and private colleges, my new student had come away from them with very little knowledge and confidence in her application.  Great for me you say, well no not really, my job is to bring someone on from the basics, not to re teach them and I am not only appalled but dishearten that the industry has developed a ‘side line’ and short cut to becoming a nail technician. 

It has become an uncomfortable truth about independent education, and something I feel should be addressed. I am not alone in this opinion…..but wonder if this is the future of the industry or can we do anything to police it. 

So what does the term ‘independent educator’ actually mean. In my opinion It means that independent education is not supported by a brand, a core line of products like gel or acrylic, nor is it accredited by any insuring body. Independent education provides further education in the form of workshops to existing nail professionals only and not to beginners. 

I wonder if the title of ‘independent education’ has been taken by some and used as a licence to print money. New technicians like my student  have booked onto a workshop which does not have a governing body, no guidelines or even proper teaching training. The structure of a class is as important as the content, and the content needs to be assessed and balanced. Who does check out these independent educators offering their own certification to training the future of our industry. Who cares enough to  police and protect the new technicians  against those nail techs who think because they can provide a good salon service they can teach a good nail. 
Of course we have organisations such as The Guild, who for a fee will accredit your courses assuming you have a recognised teaching qualification, but this relies on the education provider to investing, and does this actually mean anything to that new nail tech about to venture into the world of nails. 

My journey within the industry started 15 years ago and has not been without its highs and lows, I have gone through the ranks, from starting out as a mobile tech to running a salon and then owning one. I have educated for brands, travelled for brands and even educated in colleges, in fact I still do, but with a different hat on. I have done my teacher training, completed my NVQ twice and added to my CPD portfolio (continued personnel development) each year.  I did carved my own job role as it is today in nails, as there wasn’t one already in place, and this role many aspire  to have also, of course why not it is a great job.  It took all of those 15 years and a lot of hard work and training to get here.  Where I am today was not a quick fix!  Being in the position of an educator and offering Independent training was not done so on a whim, or without planning.  It was not something I did right from college or because I can’t be arsed to do nails anymore. 

As a mentor and ambassador I get many emails and messages from techs who have just qualified asking me how to get into education and looking for different avenues within the industry;  my response to them, is why do you want to educate, why do you want to run before you can walk? Surely you need to pay your dues as a nail tech first, isn’t that why you joined this profession in the first place? Why is it that men and women do not want to perfect their craft before sharing it with others, why are we hell bent on getting to the top, without building and honing our own skills. 

There are many different roles within this industry from session technicians like Michelle Class and Marion Newman to college lecturers like Shelly Lee at South Devon College. Then you have educators which work in the private sector with brands which hold a core line, like CND, IBD and Crystal nails.  You work for your self  when you work with these brands and build your own education academy under the umbrella of a brands logo or name. But they give you the in-depth training, skill building and application advise you could never receive without being part of a great education team. These brands have a vested interest in making you the best you can be, and they encourage ambition and drive.   The different directions nail professionals take within the industry requires hard work, effort, new learning and investment, it is not easy, certainly harder than doing nails all day, just an FYI if you think otherwise. 

In my humble opinion the label of 'Independent educator' should go to those nail technicians with a specific skill set which will take those nail professionals with some experience and who have learnt the basics to the next level. Independent educators fill a gap in the market to improve skills and develop.
Independent or private education, unless accredited should not provide education to new nail professionals, beginners in their field who do not have the proper understanding of application.  How can one educate a beginner without any formal training in education, have the experience in working for various brands and even have the backing of a core line, I mean what on earth are they going to be teaching with. Another point to realise is that they are basing the education they providing on that which they learnt. The questions should be; where was this, when was this and by whom?  How many bad habits are passed on to the unsuspecting newbie. 

I am generalising here, and will probably get some back lash from this blog post, I am not talking about those nail professionals who have done their time teaching professionally for brands or within colleges, who have got they're teaching certificates and have a wide range of experience in all areas of nail application. Nor am I including those private colleges and private educators who have launched their own academies and training solutions on the back of their time as a brand educator or college lecturer.  Who have taken the steps to educate themselves and create a business with the correct qualifications to teach. 

I am warning those out there, to check who is training you, if you are starting on the nail road, who has given them the licence to teach you.  We talk about non standard salons every day, what about non standard education?