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How a mentor can boost your nail industry success

By Guest Writer | 19 March 2021 | Feature, Tech Talk

Mentor Nails Canva

Kara Kotsonis, owner of the award-winning NailSquad salon in Deal, Kent, shares her experiences of a business mentor…

Kara Kotsonis

You may have heard the word ‘mentor’ banded around, but never really thought or looked into whether a mentor could be helpful for you or your business. If so, here’s the professional lowdown alongside my own personal experiences.

A good mentor is someone who will support and encourage you to reach for higher goals to help you improve by taking the next steps to succeed in your business or career.

My first mentor many years ago was the talented Ketan Patel. Ketan won multiple golds at UK and European nail championships during the 1990s. He was an inspiration to many and completely hilarious.

Ketan Patel

Although Ketan did offer CND product training courses, 1-1’s or ‘mentorship’ weren’t ‘a thing’ as they are now. In fact, social media didn’t even exist then. So, I did what I encourage anyone in business to do if what you’re looking for isn’t available – I asked. The worst thing that can happen is that the person says no.

Ketan agreed to train and mentor me to enter the Nailympia liquid & powder pink & white competition at Olympia Beauty. While I placed in the top 10, the impact this one-to-one time with someone who had more expertise and experience was amazing for my my career and mindset.

A mentor can be the secret weapon to your career growth.

The year 2020 was certainly challenging on so many levels, but despite the coronavirus, the team at Nailsquad still managed to achieve some business highs. We won bronze for Service Excellence in the Kent Health & Beauty Awards, and I won gold for Nail Technician of the Year. 

That said, the third lockdown has been the toughest, although once again, it’s given us the time we wouldn’t usually have had to learn new skills and reflect on what really makes us happy.

This current lockdown involved a journey for me back to a passion I’ve had since I was seven years old. Once again, I’ve had the help of a mentor who has helped me with industry technicalities for a new nail-inspired business which I will be launching soon.

So, the message is: if you’re feeling nervous, unsure, not sure where to start, keep getting distracted, think your skills need a brush-up or any other thing preventing you from taking that FIRST step upwards in your career…get a mentor!

What to look for in a mentor: 

  • Experience: If you want to run a successful salon, seek out someone who has achieved industry recognition, such as awards and accolades for their business. If winning nail competitions or improving your skills, look for nail champions like Katie Barnes.
  • Group training is not mentorship. While group training has its advantages, its not mentorship; you need to receive 1-1 advice or training that is entirely focused on you and your business over a period of time to really level up your career.
  • Ongoing support: This is so important to your growth and why I feel mentorship programmes over single 1-1 sessions are better. If you’re attending a 1-1, ask if it’s possible to send over any follow-up questions after your session or to send over a quick video of a technique you may have struggled with a few weeks later for a critique.
  • Check what’s included: 1-1’s and/or mentorship programmes can be expensive, so ensure it covers everything you’re looking to achieve. Investing in your professional skills is worth it. You will always reap the rewards in the future. It’s definitely worth resisting the odd night out (when Covid allows) in order to save up.

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