Jamie Yin’s career in Nails was born out of one thing: the love of pampering. To Jamie, nails symbolized colour, relaxation, self-care, and a way to personalize the newest and hottest Nail trends. But when Jamie came to Canada in 2004, she realized the disparity in global Nail trends. Canadian salons only offered French manicures and regular nail polish application—no nail art whatsoever! And so, Jamie took her nails into her own hands. Buying over 200 bottles of nail polish, Jamie continued to teach herself everything that she could about the technicalities and art form of nails. After training in Shanghai and Japan, Jamie returned to Canada ready to springboard into a career as a Nail Educator.
Now, she is an Akzentz Professional Nail Educator, a Nail Studio program instructor at Blanche Macdonald, one of 80 North American Authorized Nail Art Educators with Swarovski and most recently, she held a management position at a clinic and spa in Richmond which she abdicated to pursue Nails on her own schedule and at her own space. Though Jamie isn’t a graduate of the Blanche Macdonald’s Nail Studio program, she does have ties to Blanche Macdonald as a student in the Fashion Marketing program. And, if you ask her, the Fashion Marketing program has armed her with as much inspiration as her Nail training courses!
You took Fashion Marketing at Blanche Macdonald! How did that program influence your Nail career?
I did! In 2008, I was so lucky to take Fashion Awareness with Peggy Morrison. She has the most amazing collection of fashion pieces from Marilyn Monroe and other historical fashion pieces. I appreciated the business knowledge I got from the program, but so many other classes are still applicable to me every day—marketing, advertising, merchandising, textiles, fashion show production… you wouldn’t expect them to translate into a Nail career but they do! It was a little difficult for me to learn in another language but I worked really hard.
Tell us about your life with nails right now!
I’ve just stepped down from my management position at a spa/clinic in Richmond. Now I’m doing Nails and lashes out of my own space in Richmond, which is very exciting. And of course, I teach a few days a week in the Nail Studio program!
Before students can even think about creating nail art, they have to be completely confident in creating a good, strong set of nails. Once they are able to do that, the art is theirs to find. You can create abstract art, use gems, create 3D pieces—there’s really no limit. But understanding foundations is most important first!
Which module do you teach?
Right now I teach Artificial Nails on Tuesday evenings and Sundays. The students are so great — they want to learn absolutely everything about nails! But in the program, we only have time to focus and practice the fundamentals of artificial nails. Before students can even think about creating nail art, they have to be completely confident in creating a good, strong set of nails. Once they are able to do that, the art is theirs to find. You can create abstract art, use gems, create 3D pieces—there’s really no limit. But understanding foundations is most important first!
How else would you describe Blanche Macdonald Nail Program students?
That they are very passionate! And that after graduation, that passion only inflames further. In the program, we teach them how to walk. After they learn that, they can go anywhere and they do! There are so many different ways to work in the industry and it’s about finding where you work best.
If you focus only on art, you lose money—even if your art is fantastic. You always have to think about time and material cost, all while making customers feel that they are being taken care of.
Speaking of finding your fit in the nail industry, how did you become an Akzentz Pro Educator?
It was very interesting! Akzentz was so incredible at helping me even before I became a nail educator. I wanted to switch all my nail products to their brand but I could never afford to completely fill my kit with only Akzentz, so they helped me out with products and outfitting my kit—all so I could see how beneficial their products were!
I have actually been doing nails for about 14 years in total. In 2015, I started to feel like maybe I wanted to expand my career in the industry differently and gain nail experience that wasn’t only with clients. I spent a while contemplating other ways I could showcase my work and skills and be more valuable in the nail industry. I was at the Akzentz booth in a tradeshow speaking to their educators and I discovered that they have their own education program where you learn everything about their products and take their product exams. I ended up taking the program and I got to go to Las Vegas to be trained by Gina Silvestro (@gelessentialz) who is one of the world’s top nail trainers. It was the last bit of my training to take before the final exam; it was a very fun, informative and intensive three-day training course. Once I passed, I was officially an educator!
Wow! It must have opened some pretty amazing doors in your career.
Oh yes. I’ve been very blessed. Because I speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, I was able to go to Beijing with the Akzentz President and the Marketing Director. We went to look at the China Nail Education system to get an idea of the differences in various areas. It was overwhelming and very eye-opening. I was born and raised in Shanghai and have been an international student since I was 18, so I’ve always been learning in a different language which hasn’t been easy. I didn’t expect to be able to do all of this in my life.
Recently you were recognized as one of Swarovski’s Authorized Nail Art Educators! Tell us about that!
There are fewer than 80 Authorized Swarovski Nail Art Educators in North America who have this title. I couldn’t believe I also got chosen to do one demo to the whole group during this training. Swarovski Crystals have always been one of my favorite design items in my art work for years. I’ve always been fascinated with their high quality and versatility. The look and dimension of nail art is easily elevated with the touch of Swarovski. However, I always had trouble creating long-lasting looks with some of my designs. When my mentor, Gina Silvestro, mentioned that Crystal Beauty Academy was starting to offer a program about creating durable designs with Swarovski Crystals, I signed up right away. The program opened my eyes about how to use different products in association with different crystal designs. Also, it was a great opportunity for me to learn about Swarovski’s history and goals as a world-leading company. Their two-day training was one of the best decisions that I made this year. It was two full days loaded with knowledge and skills that definitely upgraded my application techniques and teaching methods. I feel so proud to be on the list of Swarovski Authorized Nail Art Educators!
There are fewer than 80 Authorized Swarovski Nail Art Educators in North America who have this title. I couldn’t believe I also got chosen to do one demo to the whole group during this training.
You’ve taught an exhibitor’s class at the Vancouver Spa show with them as well!
Yes! It was a Nail Art class. We focused on a one-step extension with built-in design. I often consider the cost of time and products when I teach because I want to make sure that it’s efficient for all the nail techs who are learning from me. It’s very important to create art, but also with business implications in mind. That’s why I always teach salons to balance their art with their time. If you focus only on art, you lose money—even if your art is fantastic. You always have to think about time and material cost, all while making customers feel that they are being taken care of.
How did you meet [Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Director] Simona Gozner and get a teaching position?
The Marketing Director at Akzentz, who knew Simona was looking for someone to teach at BMC, contacted me asking if I did acrylic nails. I didn’t really do much of it at the time as I managed a medical spa and clinic where they didn’t want to have anything with a strong smell (from the traditional monomer), but I used to work with acrylic a lot. She said she remembered my work and how good it was and passed my name on to Simona. She called me and I ended up going into a class as a guest speaker for one night. Then Simona contacted me and walked me through the class materials. I had to quickly replenish all the Acrylic supplies in my kit—I was so nervous!
For the first class, I was with Lead Nail Studio instructor Min Pak and I had no idea if I was going to be a good teacher or how it was like to be teach something on a scheduled timeline. Min helped me manage my time and educational language. Min coached and helped me retrain my brain to teach the baby steps with beginners in mind. I do a lot of art so my way wasn’t necessarily the way new students needed to learn. I had to adapt my process so they could learn and mimic. Teaching was actually my inspiration for me to go to Japan and start over with the most basic training and examinations. I wanted to refresh my own knowledge from the very beginning!
When you first came to Canada, our nail scene was lagging behind. Have we caught up now?
I used to feel like we were always trying to catch up. Nowadays, Canada has its own place in the Nail industry. We are very multicultural and we all learn from each other, even within one salon.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone looking to get into the industry?
Have passion and practice always. Passion is why you’re here, but it’s also a lot of muscle memory. Just like swimming or anything else you choose to learn, you have to practice, practice, practice. You always need to keep your movements precise and sharp before you seek a career. Build your confidence, reduce your service times, and that will make sure you have good client retention. And keep up with the industry! A lot of wonderful trainers host classes, so ask around: who’s the best, who has cool techniques, who can do things you can’t? Then work closely with whomever is passionate, and maintain your relationships with your classmates and coworkers.
Have passion and practice always. Passion is why you’re here, but it’s also a lot of muscle memory. Just like swimming or anything else you choose to learn, you have to practice, practice, practice. You always need to keep your movements precise and sharp before you seek a career.
Tell us your favourite thing about being a Nail Educator and Technician.
If you’re passionate about it, the language may be different, but the results are there. I love some Russian Nail artists on Instagram. We don’t speak the same language, but we’re working on the same thing. The art surpasses the language barrier! The more knowledge that you gain, the more you can understand their techniques.