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Carl Anderson's achievements begin in the 80's as a Nail Technician and through his amazing life he now runs a successful business in Kings Cross called the Nail Zoo.When you first enter his salon the first thing you notice about him is that he is passionate and vibrant. He is a perfectionist at heart and will not settle for anything less than a perfect piece of art called an acrylic nail. Not just any looking nail, but one that exceeds his client's expectations, a nail that looks real.
WHERE DID YOU START? I started in Newcastle, in about 1984. I was a chef at the time and I was a bit disillusioned with what I was doing. The first time I saw nails was when my neighbor at the time was going to a job interview. She wanted to look her best of course so she bought these press on nails from the chemist. She was so excited about her press on nails. I thought they where atrocious, I knew there must be a better way. On my mission I found a gift shop that sold this hot pink box which was a Sculptured Nail Kit, I bought it. The kit had a plastic brush, with plastic bristles, almost like a tooth brush, it also had plastic forms, powder and liquid, which smelt really bad, along with the instructions. I had never seen anything like it before, it was so uncommon in those times. My first sculptures were on a friend of mine called Tina. Once I managed to stick these plastic sculptures (forms) and finished the procedure, I could not believe what I had done. I had created these wide fan looking things which really had to be filed down. I used the cheap plastic file from the kit. I filed and filed until I had worn the file out on the first nail. In a rush I hurried down to the chemist and bought more files to complete my work. The whole procedure took me about 6 hours to complete. I had no choice but to make them look good, I didn't know how to take them off! At the end of the ordeal, I had an amazing result.
Tina went to a job interview at a salon and the owner enquired about my work. The owner was interested in meeting with me. I was offered a position in the salon as a Professional Nail Technician. I accepted the offer and informed them that I would need a few days to set up. As part of my preparation a friend of mine introduced me to a real Nail Artist and asked her if she was willing to train me. She agreed and my lesson was an eye opener. I actually got to use a sable brush which was a change from my nylon brush. She showed me how to pick up balls and that was different to the kit I used. The experience was mind blowing and so professional. After this I knew what I was destined to do. I felt so natural picking up balls of acrylic and creating masterpieces. It felt right. She also introduced me to tips ha! Ha! And I thought this is definitely the way to go, it was like a revelation.

What was the reaction from the general public when you commenced your business in the 80's? There weren't any men in the industry in Australia at the time and no one understood what I was doing. When I first began, I had to borrow $200 from my father. He was an engineer and trying to explain to him that I needed the money because I was going into the fingernail business was a task. When I started working in the salon, clients saw me as a breath of fresh air, everyone wanted to give me a go and to their surprise they ended up with work that was better than anything they had received in the past. My work was better than what they where happy with, I raised the bar. I exceeded their expectations and blew their mind away. I was new and trendy. I was entering a female dominated industry so I not only had to perform but I had to do it better.

Is there anyone of celebrity status that has benefited from the services you have personally provided? There are a number of celebrities that I have worked on however this is not something I like to discuss, I want to be recognized for my talents not the people I work on. My famous clients would not like to be exposed for having fake nails, it's natural fake nails of course! Many people in this industry use the fact that they have celebrity clients as a promotional tool, famous people need their privacy also. Anastasia is one celeb I can disclose ( see picture above ).

Do you have any tips for upcoming Technicians that would allow their businesses to grow and successfully prosper as yours has? Do not cut any corners, there are few ways of doing nails faster, you need to do it properly all the time or you are just going to create yourself more work in the long run. When I have a new client that has obviously had good work on their nails, I always find out who did their nails. This is important because if clients are going away or on holidays I can refer them to another nail technician elsewhere, for the client's convenience, based on the work I have seen from that salon. A referral system is showing your clients that you care and that their nails will be looked after. Look after your clients and keep quality in mind at all times.
 
If you were asked what would be the biggest impact that you personally have been able to contribute to this industry, what would you consider it to be? I think the biggest impact I have had is to show off my skills (both artistically and technically) as a guide for others to perhaps attain or aspire to. The only guides we had in this industry was overseas magazines (which to me is an overstated and artificial look) I prefer to show a more natural and obtainable in the salon look. I have tried to remain hands on and keep up appearances at all the nail shows. I also do advanced training workshops all over Australia, passing on my knowledge to anyone interested. I am always pushing a more Natural Look" approach to the industry.
Who would you have considered to be a mentor during your business development?  I have never really had a mentor as such, I have been in the industry for so long, back when I started there was nobody doing nails that really stood out (to my knowledge). The first person I met in the industry in Sydney was Carole Wilson, she could practically do nails with her eyes closed and her speed amazed me, she worked for Sharon MacNay at FUSS, both of them just blew me away with their energy and enthusiasm. 20 years ago that salon really pumped. I have always admired certain people .... Lorraine White comes to mind, even though we are very different people with different styles. Of course people will automatically think Tom Holcomn, but he is way to far away for him to ever really have an effect on me, but of course I'd be a fool not to admire him, he has his own style, and of course he's a bloke. Robyn Cannon is a name that brings back pleasant memories of a time way back when, as does Sharyn Connoly from Shaz. Lea Davis & Cheryl McGyinn have been around from the start in one way or another, anyone that's been around since the advent of me deserves a hefty round of applause. Gawd this is making me feel old.
What would you consider to have had the most impact in a detrimental manner to this industry? Well this of course this is my personal opinion. I don't like what I call the Americanisation of the Australian Industry, why can't we just go about doing natural looking nails? Most seem to be obsessed with bright white free edges, this is such a dead giveaway that nails are fake, I hate using the word fake. I always thought that anything artificial was supposed to look real, well why don't artificial nails look real? I call these nails Mc Nails (as in McDonalds); it's such a pre fabricated look. I will stand corrected if someone can show me real nails that have a free edge as white as the "fake" nails I see around town. Of course that's just one look (but it really stands out and isn't a fair assessment of the way nails can look). I also am not in favor of "production line nail salons" that don't offer personal service. One thing clients really like is the ability to sit down, relax and converse with their technician, this is being lost in "mega salons" that the client is almost like a number waiting at the delicatessen and are in and out whilst their technicians talk amongst themselves. I also think there should be some kind of entry requirements for Nail Schools, I will always maintain that doing nails is an artistic skill and it's very difficult to teach someone to be artistic. Being artistic comes from "within", you can't go to art school without showing some artistic skill. At least we would then have artistic people in an artistic field, not just people looking for a career with a relatively cheap start up cost. I understand it would be difficult to reject a student due to lack of artistic ability.
Where can you see this industry in another 10 years? It's difficult to imagine where the industry will be in 10 years, it really depends on our educators and future technicians' free will. Will they go in the direction of a natural look, or will they do "fake nails"? I'd love to see an odorless acrylic that works exactly the same as what we are using now. I'd love to see an "Australian Style" develop that is recognised world wide as "Super Natural" Most students will always look up to their teacher; it's only natural when a student reaches the standard of the teacher that they feel they are quite good. Therefore the standard of the teacher must be extremely high so he students keeps striving to better themselves, when the teacher is average, the student will be average, the
future standard will be average, then the industry will be average. Average is just not good enough The
future is in the hands of our teachers and educators.

What's the best part of your job? I love what I do and I am great at it. I have developed personal relationships with my clients, even though I don't socialise with them all outside of the salon we have a great personal relationship here at the Nail Zoo. My clients have no choice but to come here because they know that they will not get the same quality I produce anywhere else. I am in a perfect position, I can hold their nails to ransom, they are like my willing prisoners.


I love the fact that every person who comes to The Nail Zoo leaves with something better than when they came in. I enjoy the creative process and the customised service I offer.