Nailing Disabilities: Meet Yasmin Hodge, the nail tech on a mission to create an inclusive beauty industry
By Callie Iley | 01 February 2024 | Feature, Health & wellbeing
Sharing the profound impact of her health conditions on her work, Yasmin Hodge of Wolverhampton business, Gels By Yas, reveals how her experiences inspired the creation of Nailing Disabilities, a Facebook group for beauty professionals with disabilities and health conditions…
Dealing with pain in her hands, wrists, shoulders, chest, back and legs, Yasmin’s health conditions vary from day to day, allowing her to see up to four clients on good days, or struggle with one client on worse ones. “It makes it hard for me to have a consistent, full-time client base,” she explains. “I had to decide to stop taking on new clients, as I don’t want to let anyone down if I have to cancel last minute. I love transforming my clients’ nails and pampering them, so the last thing I want to do is let them down.”
Yasmin ensures she takes regular breaks throughout the day, and has made adjustments such as using a higher wrist rest to ease upper body strain, working with an E-file to reduce stress on her hands and wrists, and swapping from cuticle nippers to scissors to reduce pressure on her fingers.
“I absolutely love being a nail technician, despite every day being a struggle,” she says. “I would never not want to be doing nails. If there is anyone thinking about becoming a nail technician but they are hesitant due to health conditions, don’t be! You must remember that you are as good as those without them. Even if it takes us a little longer, we will still get there.
“If you want to be a nail tech and have health conditions to manage, just remember to pace yourself, as you will be no good if you are burnt out.”
Throughout her time in the industry, Yasmin has sought out support for nail technicians with disabilities and health conditions. “I have never had any help finding places that specialise in knowing how disabilities can make learning harder,” she shares. “A lot of providers try to pass the buck by saying you need to contact your local council or government departments to get help, but from my experience, it’s because they have no idea how to help. They try to get you to train in other programmes instead of offering support. It’s really frustrating and it makes you want to give up on your dreams.
“I have personally found it hard to get an employed position within a salon or even to rent a space,” Yasmin continues. “I’ve looked for part-time work, so I don’t push myself too much and end up being unable to work. I always explain about my disabilities and that they are the reason I am looking for part-time work, as I don’t feel ashamed about my body not working the same as everyone else. But this seems to put people off employing me or offering their space to rent. I either get told they don’t think it is worth having a part-time nail tech, or they simply don’t get back to me. I really hope this will change in time, so that people don’t have to work from home if they don’t want to, as this can feel isolating.”
Yasmin couldn’t find any groups specifically designed for nail technicians with disabilities or health conditions. Despite this, she managed to form a bond with other nail technicians in the community, sharing tips and tricks on how to support themselves and manage their disabilities and conditions while working in the industry.
“I thought it would be good to create a group for nail techs but also those within the general beauty industry, to help them discuss any barriers or struggles that they face daily. I want the group to allow them to not have to worry about being judged by professionals, who don’t find it a struggle to do simple things within their jobs.”
Yasmin aims to provide a safe and open space for nail technicians and beauty therapists to share their experiences and challenges while working with disabilities and chronic illnesses in the industry. She wants to foster a positive environment for professionals to celebrate their achievements and offer advice and support to one another during challenging times.
“Since I made the group, I have received so many messages from those within the industry that have wanted a safe environment to talk about their struggles and have found that in the group. I have been amazed at how many people have joined and found it helpful. I hope the group carries on growing and helping people to feel safe to discuss any struggles they might encounter within our community.
“It is really important for a group like this to exist, to show others dealing with similar issues that they are not alone.”
Brands such as Katie Barnes Tool Range and HONA have offered discount codes and donated products for Nailing Disabilities group giveaways in a show of support, and Yasmin hopes this will continue. “I would love for brands to show support for disabled professionals within our industry,” she smiles. “It would be incredible to work with brands in the future through Nailing Disabilities, to help them become inclusive of disabilities, working to offer adapted products and tools for nail technicians who need them.
“In the future, I would love to own a salon or be given the opportunity to work within a salon with other beauty professionals that understand disabilities, to show younger people with disabilities who are starting out that you will get to where you want to be, even if you have to overcome obstacles,” she says. “If by me speaking about my struggles that I have faced and are still facing helps just one person, it will have been worth it.
“I do find it difficult talking about my conditions as I worry what people think about me, but I remind myself that I can do it. If someone isn’t supportive or they’re harsh with what they say, I brush it to one side, as some people can be ignorant to disabilities. I hope I can support others to have the confidence to speak out, too.”