|By Karen Musson
Nail tech by day, exotic snake dancer
by night, Carl, owner of The Nail Zoo in Sydney's red light district,
is an incredibly talented and successful nail artist with a burning
desire to improve the work standards in the nail industry. Famous
for making a statement at every trade show he attends, Carl kicked
off his career when he won the "Most Creative" category
in the APFA's inaugural Fingernail competition in 1988.
Winning all five categories the following year, Carl has gone
on to win over 28 awards in different categories. The awards now
decorate the walls of his salon.
|Starting out on his neighbors' nails
in his own living room, each salon Carl has created gets bigger
and better .I want clients to feel like they're having their nails
done in their lounge room, " said Carl. Black leather couches,
spacious and comfy swivel chairs and zebra print throw rugs certainly
help create a 'loungeroom feel'.
The feature wall of the salon carries
the zebra print theme with every other wall painted a different
color - red, purple, green, orange, yellow and blue it's like,
well, a zoo really.
And you definitely can't miss the huge yellow
feathery picture frame; the zebra figurines, posters and product
holders; and the rather obvious traffic light flashing on the
wall. Photographs of his work over the years adorn the walls as
does a photo from a recent show with his pet snake. The clinical
nail salon look is clearly not Carl's scene.
With a busy clientele Carl sticks to working
4 1/2 days a week to prevent burn out. "it seems the more
successful you are the more time you end up working to meet the
demand, but you need to take a break for yourself," he said.
|"Clients may need their nails
done in time for Christmas but I think sometimes they forget that
we need a holiday too."
As well as working in, and managing, The Nail Zoo, Carl teaches
across Australia for the East Coast Nail Company running training
workshops for the more advanced nail tech.
You can get almost any nail service at The Nail Zoo except a pedicure.
Using equipment and products from East Coast, Carl works with acrylics,
gels and occasionally fibreglass. in fact, Carl was the first teacher
of the Backscratchers system in Australia.
|He prefers working with acrylics and fibreglass
because, in his opinion, they are so much easier to sculpt with.
Having the opportunity of talking to Carl while he worked with a
client was proof in the pudding. His acrylics are completely natural
looking and the client left satisfied as usual."It totally
depends on the person's nails as to what they need and how the product
is applied - I don't believe in the 'this is the only way' mentality,"
|"The reason I am so successful
is because I try out new things, I play with different sized brushes
and applications," he said. "Doing nails is an art form,
so the term ,'nail tech' doesn't really fit for me. 'Nail artist'
would be more accurate.
|I have always had lots of ideas on
how to do different techniques and exploring different nails for
different people. Trying out new approaches often seems to be frowned
upon but if there's a better way to do something why not do it?"
|"I learned a while ago not to
listen to what's 'politically correct', or to play by the 'rules',"
said Carl. "I believe in thorough training but nail techs should
then be encouraged to explore their creativity and skills."
|ProNail (PN): What
do you like most about nails?
Transforming ugly, huge nails into something presentable.
1 love doing sculptures to create beautiful, classic looking nails.
How long hove you been doing nails?
C: About 14 years
now, and this is my fourth salon I've owned
|PN: How did you
get your first break?
C. 1 did my first
set of nails on a neighbor and when she visited the loco/ hair salon
where 1 used to live in Newcastle, the hair dresser was so impressed
she asked her where she got her nails done. 1 started working for
them three days later
|PN: What is the
most creative thing you've ever done with nails?
C. That would hove
to be either my Spanish fan or the spider, which required animated,
|PN: What makes
The Nail Zoo so special?
C. You'll always get
the best job done my work speaks for itself
|PN: What would
you most like to impact in the nail industry?
C. Definitely training
standards. We need to raise our standards. Everyone always has on
excuse like, 'acrylics ore better than gels' or 'it's the product's
fault that her nails didn't work out', rather than looking at yourself
and asking do I hove the talent? Imagine you were on the other side
of the desk and ask yourself 'would 1 be happy paying for that work?'
Finally, if you're not passionate about it, don't do it.
|PN: Is that why
you're starting up your own training academy?
C. If you're not a
qualified nail technician it's to the detriment of the nail industry
Also, too many schools focus on technical training and forget about
the practical work. I can give you a recipe for making chocolate
cake but my cake will turn out differently to someone who doesn't
have a passion and natural flair for cooking.
|PN: What is the
aim of your training academy in one sentence?
C. To provide training
for beginners with a natural, artistic talent for nails to lift
the quality, standards and profile of the nail industry.
|PN: Do you consider
yourself to be a nail tech or a nail artist?
C. I'm both. 1 am
artistically technical if that makes sense we need to invent a new
word or rather job title that differentiates between the beauty
therapist who wants to boost business by doing a short nail course
and professionals dedicated to sculpting nails.
|PN: How do you
promote your salon?
C. I don't. It's
mostly word-of-mouth and because my work is so creative, I've raised
a profile for myself and the quality of my work.
Get nailed on the net:
That's right, if you want to get up close and personal with
for a bit of fun check out his website at http://www.nailzoo.com
where he talks nails, profiles some of his nail art and meet his
(including his friendly pet snakes) and a bunch of his friends.
The Nail Zoo
40 Bayswater Road,
Kings Cross, NSW
Ph: 02 9356 2688