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Check Out Maria Martinez’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Martinez.

Hi Maria, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have always had an interest in self-expression. Growing up, I remember vigorously studying “Making Faces” by the late Kevyn Aucoin and discovering the world of lowbrow art through artists like Mark Ryden, Isabel Samaras, and High Fructose magazine. I had always had an interest in anything visual and expressive, things that often were just different enough to feel fantastic and shocking at the same time. I enrolled in a private studio for fine art lessons here in La Mesa at the age of 12, and by 16 I was teaching classes. After graduating high school, I decided to follow my interests and took a full cosmetology course in hair and makeup. Turns out I did not like either. Live and learn! I did, however, fall in love with nails. It makes sense, looking back, that I would naturally gravitate towards a careful, quiet, and meticulous form of painting.

After receiving my license and bouncing around a few salons, I landed at Hello Birdie by mere chance. I was immediately drawn to the attitude of the salon. They were just what I was looking for, and it was a place where I felt I fit in. I learned and grew and thrived there. I decided to return to school and get my BA in Art History at UCSD to deepen my appreciation and understanding for art. Now, I’m back in the industry and loving every minute of it in my new studio space. I am able to collaborate with my clients and help them feel cared for and confident in themselves. I really have been enjoying the idea that I am participating in providing hardworking clients with much-needed self-care while also being creative.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a process! My first few salons I worked at highlighted how lonely and individualized the industry is for manicurists, so when I found a salon that had a sense of community, I couldn’t go back. I still maintain my connections with the girls, manager, and owner at Hello Birdie because they run deeper than just professional relationships. Transitioning to a smaller, more independent space was definitely scary, especially during this current pandemic. I have to thank my clients and nail community for their support during that transition.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a licensed cosmetologist who specializes in manicures and hand-painted nail art. I am known for working on natural nails and offering my clients almost any design they ask for. I am most proud of my energy and enthusiasm for my work and love the connections I have with my nail peers and clients. I think what sets me apart is my background in fine arts and art history, which I use every day with this job, believe it or not!

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
Reach out to peers, interact with them on social media, and ask questions. I believe that this industry can be incredibly fulfilling if we all work together to share our knowledge, referrals, and words of support. It can be really difficult to avoid comparing yourself to other nail techs, so instead of feeling poorly or not good enough, reach out to those who are successful and ask them for advice. I firmly believe this industry is changing for the better as we learn to communicate with each other rather than feeling threatened or insecure.

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