Caitlin Iley

NAIL TECH TALK: Gemma Anne Dawson of Gem’s Gels and Glitters

By Callie Iley | 03 April 2021 | Feature, Tech Talk

Gemma Ann Dawson Tech Talk Header Pic

Scratch chats to Gemma Anne Dawson of Gem’s Gels and Glitters about her training and the importance of developing new skills as a nail tech…

My journey in nails only really happened in 2016. Before then, I worked in a university teaching statistical analysis to undergraduate students. I’d always studied those types of subjects. A Levels turned into University and then I somehow found myself in the middle of PhD and teaching. Neither of which I ever really wanted to do, or enjoyed.

I’ve always loved nails and anything creative but just thought it would stay a hobby. It wasn’t until I had my first baby and was at home on maternity leave, that I realised how desperately unhappy I had become in my career. I just decided enough was enough so I took the plunge!

As I was at home full time with my baby, I originally trained with Essential Nails as it offered accredited, distance learning courses. I spent hours looking for the right path into becoming a nail tech but it was really the only way I could fit a career change into my life alongside my responsibilities at home.

I passed all of my modules with distinctions and just knew I’d found something that I finally loved to do. Since then, I’ve retrained with to Magpie Beauty, which I absolutely love. I knew I wanted hands-on training with my ‘forever brand’, and when I found Magpie, I knew straight away that I was set!

I don’t currently take on clients, but I hope one day that I’ll be able to set myself up as a proper little business – maybe even branching out into press-on custom design nails. Until then, I adore posting my nail art and being able to connect with other amazing techs online.

What are your favourite nail products?

I love my Magpie Beauty Gel Paints, Velvet Top Coat, and the amazing Rubber Up Base. I think if I had to choose just one, it would have to be the Magpie Nail Detailer Brush – I couldn’t be without it! All of my art is done with this brush, it  is definitely my ride or die product.

What designs do you love to create?

I love creating really detailed designs, specifically realistic characters contrasted with pop art style backgrounds or accents. Something with a little twist to the design, so realistic polar bears but wearing earmuffs for example, or penguins in scarves.

I also really love to show a relationship on my nails rather than just faces looking outward. Previously, I’ve painted a country music duet, Mr and Mrs Claus about to kiss under the mistletoe and a mermaid facing a scuba diver underwater. I just really love for the characters to interact and in the sets where they are facing each other, it’s so interesting to play around with their expressions and really try to convey a story. I also love a good film character or Disney theme.

How do you wear your own nails?

Well, when they aren’t covered in gel paints from my nail art sets, they are usually short and sweet! I’m a bit of a creature of habit with my own nails actually. I always use the amazing Rubber Up and Give Me Strength from Magpie Beauty to help keep my natural nails strong. Usually, I stick to my favourite classic red, or a super holographic glitter as I am all for anything that sparkles.

If you had to pick one, what nail colour would characterise your personality?

This is hard! I’m torn between neon pink and some sort of rainbow glitter. I do a little happy dance anytime I see either. I’d like to think that personality wise, I’m quite bubbly. I definitely love anything that sparkles!

What one piece of advice changed your career?

I remember calling my mum one afternoon when I was miserable in my old job and crying to her about how I wished I could do something more creative, that I really loved and had passion for. My mum has always been my biggest supporter and told me that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and that no amount of success or money was worth being miserable for. That was it – I told the university that I was leaving and started training in nails. If you’d have told me then that five years later, I’d have entered my first nail competition and placed 3rd in my division for Nailympia Online, I’d have never believed it was possible. I’m so happy I took my mum’s advice!

Why is it so important for techs to advance their nails skills and artistry?

The nail industry is constantly evolving, so it makes sense that we techs continue to do so, too! There are so many amazing new techniques, styles, products and tools that allow us to really stretch the ‘norms’ of nail art. This makes it so important that we constantly learn and advance our skills.

I’ve done some fabulous nail art courses with The Nail Team and I’m currently working on improving my portrait skills by completing a course by Sam Biddle. I am a massive advocate for constantly educating yourself, I can’t get enough of amazing people sharing their wisdom.

I’m so excited to be doing my Gold Nail Art course with Magpie Beauty  and I can’t wait to keep learning new skills and techniques. Speaking from my own experience, if I look back at nails that I painted even six months ago, the difference now is huge. That’s all down to practice and finding as much education as I can in order to advance my skillset.

Follow Gemma’s nail journey on Instagram, here.