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I had a chance to sit down with Artistic Nail Design’s Alisha Botero during their Rock Hard World Tour. The executive vice president and creative director was in Toronto to promote Artistic Nail’s new Rock Hard LED Gel product and hold workshops to educate nail artists about the new trends and techniques in the industry.
We met at Sparks Salon in Toronto’s Liberty Village for the most intimate media event I’ve ever been to. I was expecting crowds of journalists and nail artists, but instead I got to hang out with Alisha, nail technician and educator Lisa Boone, and portfolio manager Al Barillas for half an hour. I even got a free manicure from Lisa!
It was soon clear to me as I spoke to Alisha that she has a passion for the nail business. She got choked up when I asked her what she loved best about it:
“I love to meet women for whom this is their passion, and help them to better themselves and give them the opportunity to support their children, support their family. That’s why we do it.”
When she’s not travelling the world, passing on her tricks of the trade, Alisha is putting together hot new shades for Artistic Nail that will adorn women’s fingernails the coming season. First she gathers inspiration from various sources – tear sheets from various fashion magazines, trend books, a piece of fabric she’s fallen in love with, and feedback from distributors – and pins her ideas on a board in her office. Once she has some colours in mind, she heads to the lab.
“We’ve got over a hundred pigments [in the lab], so we’ll start mixing and trying to match that particular colour,” Alisha told me.
Then there’s the polish’s finish: “Do I want it to be creamy and glossy, do I want it to be shimmery and sparkly, do I want it to be rich and deep, do I want it to be something they can layer on or layer under?”
At this point, Alisha comes up with five to ten colours and has to narrow that down to a collection of either four or six shades. This year’s fall collection was inspired by rich heavy fabrics like velvet, fur and wool, and has a velvety finish. “Dolce and Gabbana has been just killing it for me with those heavy textiles,” she gushed.
Looking ahead to the spring collection, Alisha told me she has some bright clean shades in mind. The collection will feature purples, pinks, a coral shade, and a particularly bright grassy green. “You look at them and you can see sunshine,” she said.
Nails at the Spa
While Lisa was putting a sparkly finish on my burgundy nails (Independence from the Fall 2014 collection), I had a chance to ask Alisha about the differences between doing nails at a salon and at a spa.
“The salon business is very social. Everybody’s talking, they’re hanging out, it’s quick service,” she told me.
“The clients come in and they’re out,” Al chimed in. “It’s about the results. People come in and they actually remove their own lacquer because they don’t want to be sitting around.”
At the spa, Alisha said, people are looking to relax and be pampered. It’s all about how long you spend on the client and the extra touches of luxury and indulgence you include in the experience.
“It’s more ‘let’s sit down, let’s relax, let’s enjoy, let’s add a special glass of champagne to that or a special cookie that goes with that scent for their new manicure and pedicure,’ and you never let them leave without a hand massage, even if they’re getting just a quick polish change.” she said. “Spas goers don’t mind spending that little bit of extra money to get that little bit better quality or something more beneficial for them.”
Speaking of quality, Alisha told me that spas like Artistic Nail’s new gel nail polish because they have no odor and they last longer, perfect for spa goers who may not come back to get a touch up as often as salon clients. And I have to vouch for the gel polish’s long-lasting power, because three weeks later my manicure still looks good!
More from My Conversation with Alisha
Artistic Nails most popular shade: Bride white
Latest nail trends: The half-moon manicure, an under layer of red like Louboutin heels, feature nails, and geometric shapes. “There are a lot of really cool small things you can do to set a trend that people will adopt.”
Making a comeback: Long nails are back and nail shapes are transitioning from square back to oval.
Biggest change in the industry: “The technical level and the skill level has increased exponentially in the last ten years.”
Alisha’s favourite spa treatments: “I love to go and get a massage and a facial,” Alisha says. “I’m all about getting in the robe and letting you doing whatever you want. You want to scrub me down and wipe me off, I don’t care. Just as long as you’re touching me for two hours I’m good.” As a nail technician herself, Alisha is very particular about who does her pedicure. “Sometimes I just give myself a pedicure and then go have my feet massaged.”