A Stoke-on-Trent nail technician has been recognised for her exceptional work after being shortlisted for an award.
Leanne Haycock, aged 25, owns her own nail business ‘Nails at Bear’, based inside Altar hair and beauty on Piccadilly, Hanley.
And after a difficult year being forced to close due to Covid, and losing her Dad, being shortlisted for Nail Tech of the Year has ‘blown her away’.
She is one of just five nail techs in the UK to be shortlisted for the award – run by The Gel Bottle – which thousands of nail artists were nominated for.
Leanne – from Light Oaks – said: “Doing nails was never really even on my radar or something I ever thought that I would end up doing. I have always had an obsession with nail art and used to do my own nails daily, but my heart always lay with Graphic Design.
“After college, I decided to take a ‘gap year’ and did a theatre make up course, on which manicure was an additional add on in 2014, before studying graphic design at Staffordshire University for three years.”
The designer and illustrator intended to do nails to ‘fill the gap’ between finding her ‘real job’ and realised that painting nails was her dream career.
The gel polish technician started renting a chair in Altar in July 2019, and specialises in hand painted nail art – and has created some crazy and intricate designs in the last 18 months.
She added: “whilst I do still do plain sets of nails, a lot of the time my clients have me stretching my creativity and putting my design degree to good use with mini masterpieces.
“I have been asked to do all sorts of things, even portraits of my clients dogs! Whilst painting is the most fun part of my job, I am also extremely passionate about nail health and ensuring that the nails are correctly prepped to ensure long lasting manicures.”
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And many of Leanne’s clients were forced to stretch their manicure between Covid-19 lockdowns when close contact beauty treatments were unable to take place.
During the lockdown, Leanne’s dad tragically lost his life, her business was forced to pause and her income vanished overnight.
She said: “So many people have experienced loss within their families this year, and whilst not due to covid, I sadly lost my dad in June. He was my biggest fan and absolutely has been my driving force to keep pushing on and adapting myself to be the best version of me.”
To make a living during the pandemic whilst salons were closed, Leanne designed and created a range of press on nails where clients could measure their nails at home, and receive a hand-painted manicure through the post.
Leanne added: “Not being able to work at all for six months of the year with no income has meant that I’ve needed to think on my feet and adapt my skills and business to stay relevant.
“Having a manicure is such an important part of people’s lives and can have a massive impact on self confidence. In order to help people still get their fresh manicure confidence, I developed a range of press on nails, taking customers sizes and creating custom sized nails for them to be sent in the post for them to apply at home.
“I also spent the second lockdown writing an eBook for other nail technicians to help them start and develop their own press on nail business which was a complete change but such a joy to make.”
But when treatments were allowed to resume in August, there wasn’t the ‘mad rush’ expected – but now, Leanne is fully booked until 2021.
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She said: “Coming back from the first lockdown, as an industry we expected a massive rush, but what happened was the opposite.
“After five months off, coming back to the salon was such a joy, but the stop-start and not knowing what is coming next has been so difficult to process and to gain momentum with.
“However, for me, Christmas has been the making of my business. I am fully booked until the new year and can’t wait to see all of my lovely clients old and new to help them feel a little bit brighter in such a dark time.”
Now, the newcomer is shortlisted for The Gel Bottle Nail Tech of the year as part of the major gel nail companies first ever award ceremony.
Leanne first had to put her name forward for consideration, with a number of clients and techs also nominating her for the coveted title.
She said: “I still feel so new to the industry, especially with not being able to work at all for the majority of this year, but the nail tech community is the most supportive thing I have ever been a part of and has become my true passion.
“At the beginning of December, The Gel Bottle Inc. – my favourite gel brand – launched their first Nail Technician Awards. I very quickly got a lot of messages from fellow technicians saying that they had nominated me for an award, which absolutely blew me away.
“TGB are one of the leading brands in the industry and to be noticed and recognised by them as one of five top in the industry out of the thousands of entries is such an absolute honour, especially with only being in the industry for such a short amount of time.
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“Such an absolute highlight of my career so far. Whilst I am truly blown away by being a finalist, It would mean the absolute world to me to be voted as overall winner of the award.”
Voting closes at midnight on December 17, and the winner will be announced on Instagram Live at 8pm on Monday, December 21.
You can vote for Leanne Haycock here, and will receive an email to verify your vote.