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.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.