Elizabeth Morris, Owner/Operator of Va-Va Varnish, San Diego’s destination for cutting edge nail design, tells us how she got into the industry, what trends she loves for 2015 and more.
Q & A with Elizabeth Morris
I officially joined the beauty industry in 2010 when I decided to leave my corporate finance job in the hopes of doing something I truly loved. I have always loved nails and have been doing my own and those of family and friends for a long time, but I didn’t become a licensed nail tech until about four years ago. In 2012 I opened my own nail salon downtown called Va-Va Varnish and it is one of the greatest decisions I ever made. I love everything about this industry. I think the thing that makes it so different is the fact that it is so artistic, passionate and the people and professionals in it are obsessed with beauty. It’s something you choose to do and can be proud of.
Which 2015 nail trends do you think will be most requested at the salon?
Every year more and more people are getting into nail art. One of the biggest trends I see is using texture to bring out designs. Things like gel foil, 3D gel art powders and mosaic art are really getting big. Even our most conservative clients are now coming in and asking for more advanced and elaborate things on their nails.
Any you’re not a fan of?
One of the trends I personally don’t like is bubble nails and hump nails. This is a very recent trend to come about. I personally prefer a more streamlined, natural and beautifully sculpted look so these super thick nails just don’t sit well with me. But to each her own!
What is your favorite nail polish color (brand and name)?
We don’t use a lot of regular nail polish at my salon (mostly gels) but I would have to say one of my favorite brands is Morgan Taylor. It’s a newer brand that was started by Danny Haile and David Daniel from Gelish (Hand & Nail Harmony). It’s hard to pick just one color. I really like all their colors, bottle design and consistency, but if I had to pick one it would be “Sweetest Thing”. It’s a really pretty rose gold glitter polish. As far as gel polish I am obsessed with Akzentz. It’s a Canadian company that makes all of its products in house and they are best I have found to date. I use all of their gel polishes, soak off and hard gels. My favorite color from Akzentz is “Bluebelle”.
Tell us about the most outrageous manicure request you have ever received:
The craziest manicure request I ever received was actually a request for duck feet nails. I had only ever seen them in pictures but I got a client that wanted electric yellow duck feet nails with tons of glitter. It was a challenge as I had never done it before but they turned out really nicely and the client was super happy. Not my aesthetic but it’s good to know how to do just about anything and do it well.
Why do you think nail artistry is finally getting the attention it deserves as a key player in the beauty industry?
Nail art in my opinion is kind of like tattoos. Tattoos started out as a major taboo that were reserved for lower class individuals, criminals, sailors, etc., but now is evolving into an accepted art form that allows people to express themselves. Similarly, for a long time the traditional views of society have deemed nail art to be outlandish, unprofessional, low class, and outspoken. A lot of clients used to tell me the same things, “I could never wear that to work,” or “that’s too wild for me.” Even I would get judged sometimes for having neon green toe nail polish or blue glitter. But what I end up seeing now is the mere quantity of nail art we see in magazines, on celebrities, on friends, is now driving a higher comfort level across the board. The more people are bombarded with the idea of nail art, the more it becomes something that seems fun and acceptable. People crave ways to differentiate themselves from others. They want to be able to show their personality and express themselves and I think nail art is a great and temporary way to do that. You can switch up your nail art every day if you want to and use inspiration from outfits, seasons, holidays, or just about anything to spice up your day.
Tell us about your Crystal Culture class.
Crystal Culture is one of the many classes I offer. The cool thing about this class is it’s backed by Swarovski (the official and amazing Austrian crystal company that we all love). The class was started by two amazing and award-winning nail techs, Viv Simmonds and Gina Silvestro. The class teaches nail techs how to integrate high-end Swarovski nail art into their appointments as both a money maker and a wow factor. It gives nail techs a competitive edge and invaluable skills that can be used to apply just about anything onto nails. I really like this class because it doesn’t just focus on technical skills. It also focuses on being a better business person which is just as important when it comes to being a successful and professional nail tech. The intent is to nurture, mentor and assist nail techs in building their businesses by teaching retail skills and additional services to add to their treatment menus. It also assists them with troubleshooting and perfecting the salon style nails in various mediums. Each attendee receives genuine Swarovski nail kits, tools and training to expertly create this high end nail art. Crystal Culture certification is given at the end of the session and it is open to all education levels. Registration is available each month via the following link: bit.ly/crystalclass.
French manicures: timeless or tacky?
Definitely timeless. French manicures and sculptured french nails I think will always be a classic and mastering them is one of the most important skills for any nail tech. Why? Because there’s no hiding a bad french manicure. It must be clean, well-balanced and beautiful, or it will look sloppy. A lot of affluent clients love french manicures, but if not executed well you can lose business quickly, so I recommend everyone practices them regardless of whether you prefer them or not. They are also a staple in most nail competitions.
Who is your dream client and why?
My dream client isn’t really a specific person but more so a type of person. I prefer someone who loves the experience of being pampered. They value the health of their nails, they yearn to express themselves and experiment through color and art, and they want a high quality experience. Just like choosing a doctor, they take their salon choice seriously and enjoy high quality service. I also love bringing people “to the light” so I guess to pick one dream client it would be Theresa Caputo (the Long Island Medium). Her nails need a major update!
What advice do you have for aspiring nail industry professionals?
My top bit of advice would be STAY PROFESSIONAL. I can’t tell you how many young aspiring nail techs I see that burn bridges with coworkers, employers and clients by acting unprofessional or getting too casual at work. You never know where each opportunity will take you so it is important to maintain your reputation and consistently show people what a high-quality individual you are. Even if you want to quit a job, make sure you do it professionally and never resort to acting out or succumbing to your emotions. Everything comes full circle and I can’t tell you how many major opportunities have come my way because people rely on my professionalism, loyalty and honesty. Good reputations are very difficult to build but they are extremely easy to destroy.
For more information about the chic nail salon in Downtown San Diego, visit: www.vavavarnish.com