Caitlin Iley

Meet the OPI Education Team, Scratch Stars Awards Nail Team of the Year 2023

By Callie Iley | 09 September 2023 | Feature, Tech Talk

Opi Winners Spotlight

Consisting of 20 nail professionals, the OPI Education Team is a close-knit group of passionate educators based across the UK, working on a full-time and freelance basis.

“As a team, we all very much admire and inspire each other, whether it be creative talent, business acumen, approach with students, attitude, career success – we are each other’s greatest cheerleaders,” smiles Belinda Price. “The team’s work ethic is phenomenal as is their determination and drive. We also have a great Global team who share skills and knowledge, inspiring us all.”

“OPI UK’s original distributor, Lena White, really led the way in education for not only OPI, but the industry in general at that time, with a training programme that predated any formal qualification in the UK,” Belinda Price continues. “OPI education has been available at head office and with the extended OPI Education Team for well over 30 years, and has continued to develop with the brand and industry.

“OPI’s Education Team are an integral part of education and development in the UK nail industry to this day, consulting on National Occupational Standards, developing on line education, offering college education and CPD amongst much, much more.”

“Education is at the heart of everything OPI does. In the UK&I team, we are recognised as the industry experts and are often consulted on ideas and planning. OPI believe education is the key to everyones success, for both OPI and its customers. With that in mind, much of OPI’s pro education is free or greatly subsidised.

“We have a loyalty app for Pro customers that allows them to collect points, and those points give them an education allocation to use each year. We are often the first person from the brand that a customer meets, so that relationship is vital to the business.”

“The team are all individuals and bring something unique with them to the table. We are all strong in different areas – some are more arty, some are more business minded, some have more science knowledge or are better at social media. At the last Train The Trainer, we invited Alison to share some information she has gained whilst on some recent training, and she shared some slides and bacteria samples taken from a nail file that had been used. Things like this grow all of our awareness and knowledge.

“The unique thing about joining our freelance team is the package we offer. We provide kit and training, pay a competitive daily rate and support you in joining our team, rather than charging for kit and travel and expenses being at the cost of the new educator.”

OPI’s freelancer map

“Entering and winning this award has been a dream of mine for some time,” reveals Belinda Price. I have the mindset that no matter how good something is, it can be better, so I’ve been putting off entering until I felt ready. This year, although I didn’t feel ready, and probably never would to be honest, I was encouraged to enter and am thrilled to have not only placed as finalist, but that the team won the award.

“I wanted to bring the OPI Education team and offering to nail pros attention. I think often the older, established, heritage brands, are overlooked by newer techs in favour of something they see as more current or exciting. This is my reminder to the industry that we are here, we have been here 42 years, and we are the best.”

The Scratch Stars Awards 2023

“The OPI Education Team are always at hand to talk techs through new and emerging trends and how to use OPI products to achieve their desired results,” says Lucy Price-Marshall. “We have lots of tips and tricks which they share across social platforms and cater to students from beginner techs to advanced techs. Most of OPI’s customers get a free education allocation each year, and the education team are committed to support development. OPI support the FNP, and are passionate about raising standards across the industry.”

“Belinda and the team are so supportive and knowledgeable,” Louise Flowers agrees. “To be a part of that team is an honour and an inspiration.”

“Although we all do the same job role now, our career paths to where we are now are so varied that there is so much to learn from my colleagues in the OPI Education Team,” says Charlotte Lowe. “Many of the team are business owners as well as educators, and I love to hear about this part of the industry and stay up to date with the challenges and successes that salon owners are experiencing.”

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of such an amazing team, and I felt so honoured to be invited to the Scratch Stars Awards – it’s always been a dream of mine to attend,” Elisha Micallef smiles.

“It was such an exciting day going to the Scratch Stars Awards,” remembers Vicky Knight. “The venue looked so fantastic and there was such a buzz in there. It was so lovely seeing so many techs I know from social media up there winning, and when our category was announced and we won, that was just the icing on the cake. We were all jumping up and down screaming, it was an amazing feeling!”

“The recognition of the team and the brand is very well deserved and long overdue we are absolutely thrilled,” Lisa Grannell agrees.

“To be a part of the team that won Scratch Stars Team of the Year 2023 has been one of the highlights of my career so far,” Charlotte Lowe beams. “It’s a great achievement for us as a whole, and shows that the work we do on a day to day basis has been recognised and I couldn’t be prouder to have played a part in achieving the award.

“Words can’t describe the feeling I have for the team to have won,” Loretta Walker smiles. “I’m so happy for the team and Belinda, who always pushes us to be better.”

“Our trophy has pride of place in our office in Wimbledon, on display with various other OPI and Wella awards,” Belinda Price reveals. “To celebrate our success with the team and mark the achievement, we have worked with Scratch’s managing editor, Helena Biggs, to find a suitable replica and have ordered the entire team their very own trophy.

“The team also will have a certificate each, so their will be a token of the win for each team member in the form of a replica trophy and certificate, to honour their contribution and celebrate it with their own family, friends and clients.”

“Entering competitions helps you pinpoint areas that need developing and makes you consider all aspects of your work and where you might like to make improvements,” Lucy Price-Marshall explains. “For me, competing has helped me gain confidence and experience, and has highlighted how important it is to always strive to improve. It’s been great for business, my clients like to see a trophy shelf and take pride in their nails.”

“Competitions can be tough and time consuming, but the feedback you get is priceless. It helps you to grow and develop your skills, constantly pushing and striving to be better and do better,” Loretta Walker says. “I would recommend all techs to enter a competition. They aren’t as daunting as you think!”  

Meet the team

Belinda Price

Belinda Price, OPI UK&I education & capability manager, based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Follow Belinda on Instagram and join the OPI Professional Community group on Facebook

Elisha Micallef

Elisha Micallef, OPI educator, based in Romford, Essex.

Having began in the industry in 2008, Elisha Micallef became an OPI educator in 2016, before being recognised as a gifted educator within Wella Company in 2021 – an accolade only eight techs have achieved worldwide.

Follow Elisha on Instagram, here

Ashleigh Clement

Ashleigh Clements, OPI educator, based in Cambridgeshire.

“I love that OPI is a heritage brand and has a big focus on its research and development for the products brought out by the brand,” Ashleigh Clements explains. “I also love our quirky colour names, its always a talking point!”

Follow Ashleigh on Instagram, here

Charlotte Lowe

Charlotte Lowe, OPI educator, based in Bedfordshire.

Follow Charlotte on Instagram, here

Tracy Dudziak

Tracy Dudziak, based in London.

Tracy Dudziak highlights her love for the community created by OPI. “It’s very supportive and there’s always someone you can turn to for guidance,” she says. “I love that there are so many different avenues within the industry that you can explore.”

Follow Tracy on Instagram, here

Sammy MacDonald

Sammy MacDonald of Aberdeen Academy of Beauty Therapy, based in Aberdeen.

Sammy MacDonald’s go-to nail shade is OPI’s Big Apple Red. “It’s pretty much the only colour I wear,” she laughs. “I remember working in a salon when I was just thirteen and loving how glamorous all the clients with red nails looked. It’s my statement shade and it makes me feel dressed and ready to face the world.”

Follow Sammy on Instagram, here

Lisa Aien

Lisa Aien of Lisa Aien Beauty, based in Edinburgh.

Having been in the industry since 2003, Lisa Aien has worked in a range of salons and spas with a variety of brands, falling in love with OPI after training with the brand. “I fell in love with the products and the training was by far the best I’d had,” she remembers. “I was lucky enough a few years later to become a freelance educator for OPI in Scotland.”

Follow Lisa on Instagram, here

Vicky Knight

Vicky Knight of Salon Chique, based in Canterbury.

Seeking inspiration from other techs, materials and art for her nail styling, Vicky Knight notes the progression she’s seen in the industry through sharing nail styles on social media. “It’s amazing, compared to when I first started in the industry, how many sites there are to share our work, such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Follow Vicky on Instagram, here

Jayne Sharp

Jayne Sharp of Polished Performance, based in Hessle, Hull.

Follow Jayne on Instagram, here

Alison Guildford

Alison Guildford of Classy & Fabulous, Cheshire Beauty School and OPI Northwest, based in Cheshire.

“I find the constant renewal and adaptation of historical trends and skills in the industry fascinating – it makes makes the nail industry special,” says Alison Guildford. “The way the industry bends, twists and flips to ensure it’s resilient to the changing needs and demands of our clients is so inspiring.”

Follow Alison, Classy & Fabulous and the Cheshire Beauty School on Instagram.

Loretta Walker

Loretta Walker of The Nail & Beauty Lounge, based in West Midlands.

A lover of watercolour and abstract designs, Loretta Walker shares that she enjoys creating unique and organic styles for clients at The Nail & Beauty Lounge. “I’m looking forward to continuing to grow my business and education academy – my next goal is to win a Scratch Star for Nail and Beauty Salon of the Year!”

Follow Loretta on Instagram, here

Lisa Grannell

Lisa Grannell of Liverpool Beauty School, based in Liverpool.

Follow Lisa on Instagram, here

Kay Stainton

Kay Stainton of Remedy Rooms, based in Dronfield, North East Derbyshire.

Follow Kay on Instagram, here

Louise Flowers

Louise Flowers, based in Durham.

Follow Louise on Instagram, here

Lucy Price-Marshall

Lucy Price-Marshall of Lucy Rose Nails @ Nailspa, based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Follow Lucy and Nailspa on Instagram.

Sally French

Sally French of French Beauty Lounge, based in Corbridge, Northumberland.

Follow Sally on Instagram, here

Abigail Jacalyn James

Abigail Jacalyn James of The Boutik Beauty Clinic, based in Plymouth.

Follow Abigail on Instagram, here

Karolina Olizarowicz

Karolina Olizarowicz of Vivid Beauty, based in Maryport, Cumbria.

Follow Karolina on Instagram, here