Keeping the Fashion and Beauty Industry Well-Polished

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Experience is...

"Experience is Priceless"

Think about it. Its one of my favorite quotes, one I believe I made up all on my own. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Just thought it deserved its own post :)

First Things First!

I get a lot of questions about how to break into the world of freelance. I'll tell you, but you have to understand a few things first. These are not to discourage you! If I had known... heck I would have done it anyways :)

1. You simply cannot do this full-time from a small town. You MUST live in a big city, like NYC, LA, or Miami, Chicago. I am extremely fortunate that at my "day job" I am able to take off at a moment's notice to go to a job on either coast. But that can only last so long, and is a very rare occurance.

2. You do not make any money starting out. In fact, you will spend a LOT of money getting started. Doing this and last year's taxes I felt sick, after adding it all up. I'm talking mid-4 figures a year here. Flying to LA, NY, accommodations, food, transportation, printing photos, buying a book (portfolio) and so on. If you think you're going to start out making a lot of money, you are sadly mistaken.

3. You need to pay your dues before getting the big jobs. I had the incredible opportunity in September and this past February to key (be the lead manicurist for) some shows at New York Fashion Week. This is only after I did a dozen or so small, local, un-glamourous fashion shows, events and photo shoots. And let me tell you, after one particular fashion show at a local college, I almost stopped doing them. But I didn't :)

First Contact

The incorrect thing to think about freelance is that "I could do that, why wouldn't they hire me?". Of course you can "do it". But so can a million other manicurists in this country. It becomes about PERSONALITY. DRIVE. And not about WHO you know, its about who knows YOU.

I will never forget the day. Er, night: October 25, 2007. It was a Thursday night, really late. I was online, MySpace to be exact. I noticed that "Melissa Bozant, Celebrity Manicurist" posted a little blurb on Nails Magazine's page about an upcoming Packaging your Portfolio Workshop in LA. I had learned that you needed a portfolio to get more work, and I needed to get to LA to be there. I emailed Melissa immediately to get more info. That night was very emotional for me: we had no money. None for me to pay for the class, my flights and 3 nights in a hotel.

It was raining pretty hard that Friday morning. I got up early, anxious for Melissa's reply. The message was there waiting: the dates of the workshop were 2 days in January, the day after I would return from my family vacation. I called Continental who was able to change my flight for practically nothing. The class was paid for by the grace of God. ;)

January came and just 2 hours before I was supposed to fly to LA, I had a message from Melissa: the class was postponed due to the writer's strike. Later she told me it was like 9/11 in LA: everything shut down.

The workshop was rescheduled for April. I finally met Melissa, along with my mentor, Crystal Wright, both of whom I credit much of my success to, to this day!

I learned so much about the industry it was astonishing. Working on set, how to break into the biz, collaborating with other creatives, building a book (portfolio of your work), evolving your kit (nail colors, everything you need to work), creating my website, business cards, comp cards, getting better photos in your book, I could go on and on. Too much to write!

For more about Melissa, please visit:

For more information about Crystal and her Portfolio workshop, please visit:

In the beginning...

I have always loved working on photo shoots. I can't explain it... I love being able to have a tangible piece of art to keep and display forever. Salon work is great, especially the relationships I've built with my clients. But that work leaves the salon. Capturing my work on film is something I can have forever and ever... and share with others!

My first experience "on set" (on set with a photographer, lights, camera, action!) was in 2000. I did hair at the time and had a mutual friend named Joe that was tall, handsome and had an incredibly angular face (high cheekbones). The shoot I did of him landed in Men's Passion International, a full-page spread with my name and salon info. I think I bought 10 copies. Later it was in Process Color. I was hooked.

The next 7 years brought me a handful of shoots, all shot in-salon and some being published in trade magazines like 101 Hairstyles, Nails and Nailpro. In 2005 I stopped doing hair to focus on doing nails only... my true love since I was 12.

Soon I was realized while watching TV, movies, awards shows, runway, seeing print ads... all the models and actresses' nails were done. Usually nothing wild... sometimes just clean and buffed. SOMEONE had to do those nails... but who? I thought maybe they went to a local salon before they came to set. Boy, was I wrong!

I thought, "Why am I not doing that?" so I set off to learn more about the freelance industry.

The Intro

At home, in Ohio, I'm called a Nail Tech. In NYC and LA, I'm a Manicurist. Whatever you call it, I do nails. In Ohio, I do nails full-time at the greatest salon on the planet, Jenniffer & Co. A few times a year (or lately, a few times a month), I find myself on either coast doing nails for fashion weeks, editorial photo shoots, magazine covers and an occasional celebrity.

This blog is written to help people that are not familiar with my career become more familiar with it and what I do when I'm away from home and "on set".

I used to hate "blogs". They seemed a pointless waste of time to make your diary public. Well this is NOT a "diary". I'm not going to walk you step-by-step through my day. I'm not going to tell you I woke up at 8am,, ate 3 bowls of cheerios and went to yoga where I fell over in downward dog.

This is predominntly about my freelance career. I have had many questions about how to do what I do, and lots of people that aren't "in the biz" don't understand what I do. This is designed to clear all of that up. Yeah there will be some personal bits here and there. But not a ton :)

I also wanted to tell you that I am not receiving any payment from any of the companies, business or people I am naming.

So read this a little at a time, all at once, whatever. I'll be as specific as I can (especially how much stuff costs, lord knows I ALWAYS want to know!) and in directions or locations of places I'm going.

Enjoy <3