How To Stand Out In A Multitude Of Nail Techs With Viviana Merino

Are you feeling like the nail market is oversaturated? Or that perhaps you don’t have it all put together yet to go and do your own thing in nails successfully? Or maybe you just simply lack the confidence for it all?

Even in my very first year of doing nails, maybe even my second if I admit, I couldn’t even imagine being overbooked, and being an in-demand nail tech. I was just glad if I got one more client, and that their nails stayed on.

We often think about being brave and just going for something.

Well my guest today, who is also one of my MGN grads, did indeed take a leap of faith to have the 100-deep list of returning clientele she has now, as an independent.

And she’ll be sharing how by getting a little strategic and paying attention to what everyone else is doing, you can actually stand out by doing something different.

Born in Mexico, raised in New York, Viviana moved back to Mexico just a few years ago, to give her life a fresh start.

Little did she know she’d also be bringing the Mexican resort city of Cabo San Lucas it’s very first soft gel specialized nail studio.

Today Viviana will be sharing her tips on how to stand out as the go-to nail tech in your area even when there’s already one in every corner!

I’m so excited for you to listen, let’s dive in!

🌸Viviana, take us through your journey in nails. How did you get started? How did you end up in Mexico doing nails?

I did have a previous interest. Five years ago, I became a little too obsessed because then I started noticing that on Instagram, you were getting a lot of nail art, a lot of nails, and more designs. That’s when I started focusing more on getting my nails done.

I learned soft gel and how to apply soft gel during quarantine. I had learned about gel before but then during quarantine, everybody had time, and everybody was at home. So that’s when I decided to do more research in regards to the product. And that’s when I found you, Paola, on YouTube, and I followed your Instagram. By then I just happened to see you giving a course on Kokoist. After learning more about soft gel, especially with Kokoist, I decided to focus on a specific market, which was more young professionals, and older women.

🌸You had many options to bring to Mexico, so why soft gel?

So, I had a friend that I visited here (in Cabo) that lived here. So I visited and realized this is the perfect market for that. So I decided to just… And I still had to pick something unique just because everybody here works with acrylic and gel, and that’s it. So it was going to be a new product, something completely different. This is a very tourist place, so there are definitely salons on every corner, so I had to really stand out completely as to something completely new, fresh, and new. When I decided to move to Mexico, I had to find a business basically, and I didn’t want to work for anyone. Also, I do know Spanish, but I do not know Spanish professionally to have a real steady job. So I still had to do something entirely by myself and start over. And that’s when I decided to focus on getting my license in regards to doing nails now. It just had to be like, I like doing this; I could do this.

In the beginning, I started in a room in my mother’s house in Puebla. Then when I moved to Cabo, I did it in my apartment in the living room. After that, I rented a table in a hair salon and was there for a year after having 50 clients, I decided to open my own salon (50 clients within a year, those are returning clientele).

After that, I started following a lot of accounts and noticed there were a lot of private studios and a lot of manicurists that just focused on hands and did not necessarily work at a salon so I did more research on that and that’s when I decided to focus on it and go from there. Many customers were asking me for a pedicure service, they were begging me. I was like, okay, I need my own place. I opened the salon on October fifth of last year.

🌸Why did you notice these returning clients were so die-hard and not going to different services? Like, how are your services different? Other than being soft gel, obviously.

It’s the process of prepping the nails. I guess many of the clients here didn’t like that other salons were hurting them; the prepping was really harsh. They come in here; it’s very… Like you said once, in one of your courses, When you’re cleaning the cuticle area, just cut whatever is waving at you ” Just don’t cut more than that, right? I always remember that. And also, right now, many of my clients are looking more into quality than quantity. Obviously, my prices are slightly higher than everyone else, but the definition is completely different from acrylic. I think a big thing here in Mexico is acrylic, so soft gel it’s not too bulky, it’s not too big, and they like that the finish is very clean, it looks very natural. They like this, and it lasts longer; there’s no chipping. Again, my clients know if they chip a nail or something like that, they can always come back, and it has a guarantee I’m more than happy to help if it happens, so they like that they could reach out to me.

🌸So you’re starting with zero clients, baby. So what do you think led to you getting these clients? Was it that education? Was it that conversation?

I just needed to really master this. I needed to sell it because I’m here by myself, so it was a lot of practice; practice makes perfect. So it was a lot of homework. People were finding me from ads on Instagram, I was paying for ads on Instagram.

I decided to move to the hair salon to rent the table because many of the women reaching out to me when I was in my apartment were a little skeptical when they said, Oh, where’s your salon? I was like, I’m not at a salon. I’m at a house right now in my apartment. And they were like, Oh, okay. I’ll message you later, so that was a big red flag. So after, you can say, after four months, I had to move to a salon; then that’s when I started paying the promos. That’s when I did the bio. It was just a lot, I was making a lot of videos, just posting a lot, posting a lot.

🌸Roadblocks? What do you think has been the most challenging thing of this entire journey?

I think I have two. Surprisingly, it’s the clients with short nails, and right now, I can’t get the product here in Mexico; I have to get it from the US, but I manage to get it on time. But right now, I do get a lot of clients with short nails, and it’s been a struggle with me with them because they don’t… It’s the lifting. But it’s like I tell them, it’s the fact that you have short nails, that you get too comfortable, and you’re still grabbing things, and you’re using your hands as tools that use. In your mind is, “Oh, I have short nails; it’s fine; nothing’s going to happen.” No, it does! You’re lifting; you’re fracturing; you’re lifting your gel nails. It’s always the three nails, like the thumb, the pointing finger, and the middle finger; the pinkie and the ring finger are always in perfect condition. So it all comes back to education and educating the clients on the service and use of their nails.

🌸You’re offered to work with another company, and you’re like, no, soft gel only. Why was that?

I had already been in the business for eight months when they offered me the product. So I had already written down the bio and introduced myself as someone that does only soft gel. So obviously, I didn’t want to confuse the clients, and I did try the product. I was like, It’s great but my bio, my profile information specifically says soft gel. And again, it comes back to when I first started in the business; I was doing acrylic, I was doing dip powder, I was doing gel, and I was just all over the place. I was like, I had been there before, so I just decided to focus on one. And as I said, I just didn’t want to confuse my client because it was like, what’s the difference between this and that? and I would be like, Well… You don’t want to talk bad about one product and then good about another one, and I want to master one thing before I go and add another product to my menu.

🌸What is your advice for newbie nail techs?

Well, I’ll tell them that they have to do the research. I did start with acrylic, the dip powder, but at the end of the day, I knew nothing about it. When I started doing soft gel, I looked at videos and did a lot of research. This is how I decided to believe in the product, and this is how I believe in the product. It’s just I did my homework, did the research, and asked why this is a good product, and I just decided to go with it. I believe in the product. If you believe in the product, if you did your research, and are taking the courses, it will work out. Practice makes perfect. Even in the beginning, in the beginning, if you feel like it’s not coming around, it’s not coming the way I see it on videos, practice makes perfect. Take your time to learn and practice.

🌸How do we find you and see what’s coming up for you?

So if you are in Cabo, or you’re planning a trip to Cabo, and you hear about Viv, then make sure to try to get in with Viv. So her Instagram is @NailsalaViv. For those of you who speak Spanish, you guys get the flow of that. Otherwise, if you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry; just click her Instagram handle for you to go ahead and follow Viviana’s story.

How brave and spectacular is BV’s story? I hope you enjoy our sit down and don’t forget to grab your free spot for our live training this Tuesday by clicking HERE. If you read or watch the interview after Tuesday, we hope to have a replay for you, which will also be found HERE (Replay). Thanks for joining us, and have a good week. Bye for now.

Content written by Paola Ponce 

Loved this blog? Then I think you’ll love learning more about my journey as a specialized gel nail solopreneur in the nail industry. Click here to get instant access to my free masterclass. These blogs are copyrighted material, and any use of this blog is not permitted without written concern first. Some of these blogs contain affiliate links that give us a small commission when qualifying purchases are made. Thank you for being so supportive, which helps us to continue creating valuable resources and content like this.

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