NCE Magazine Fall 2019Presented by Suzie

Table of Contents

  1. Behind the Coverby Suzie
  2. Storytime with Suziewhen Suzie met Suzi
  3. Halloween Inspired Spider Web Nail Artby Hien Trong Pham
  4. 10 Questions with the Queen of Blingwith Jenny Bui
  5. 5 Things I've Learned as a New Nail Techby Tisha Mills
  6. Leading the Revival of Nail Artfeaturing Debbie Duxbury, by Karly Moskal
  7. Suzie Submissionsby You, The NCE Community!

Behind the Coverby Suzie

This issue… we’re goin’ goth!

For our first Fall issue of NCE Magazine, I thought of how fitting it would be to recruit my stunning niece- and newest nail tech at my salon- to model goth styled Halloween-esque nails! A year ago, I found this epic metal art piece in a store, which has become the focal point for this issue’s nail design.

I found this epic metal art piece...

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been thinking about creating this design based off of this art piece for an entire year! Although the goth style is not something I usually dabble in, this jewelry piece inspired me to explore it. Once I found the piece, the rest of the idea for this design fell into place. Including a deep red was a must and string gel is perfectly edgy for this look. And of course, I had to have foils!

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been thinking about creating this design based off of this art piece for an entire year! Although the goth style is not something I usually dabble in, this jewelry piece inspired me to explore it. Once I found the piece, the rest of the idea for this design fell into place. Including a deep red was a must and string gel is perfectly edgy for this look. And of course, I had to have foils!

Keep scrolling for the behind the scenes of how I put this issue’s cover together!

  1. For this design, I chose to use a hybrid gel. It’s a product that DIYers and nail enthusiasts can purchase- not just licensed techs. Although hybrid gel is no replacement for acrylic or pro gel products- as the end result can be quite different- but it is still a lot of fun to play with creating nails that are close to professional standards, when you are a hobbyist.

  2. My model, Tisha and I are setting up!

  3. You know the saying, “You’re never three feet away from a spider?” Well, at my house, I’m never three feet away from a Critter! Sometimes he can be grumpy, but he still always wants to be near us. He even sometimes lets us snap a photo!

  4. Tisha’s favourite time of year is Fall, and specifically Halloween! So, it was perfect to include her in our first Fall/Halloween issue. Her style is ideal for the look I wanted to capture!

  5. The hybrid gel brand that I used is Gershion. I went for this long, almond shape.

  6. Watch my in-depth YouTube tutorial for the build of these almond nails!

  7. Once the nails have been built, I start laying the foundation colours down. I chose Aluminix from Joya Mia to get that deep, rich illuminating colour.

  8. Tisha’s ready for her closeup!

  9. For the black lines, I used Play Gel from Exclusive Nail Couture.

  10. I use Exclusive Nail Couture’s Magic Foil as well. Foils can be tricky, but I find it dependable from ENC.

  11. This set is a great example of designing nails based on the style of your client. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t exactly sure until I sat down with Tisha. She was actually dressed in what she normally wears and did her makeup herself. I got my inspiration from her particular colour palette and personal style- she was my inspiration!

  12. And there you have it… What a mood!

[sponsor: big bling clear jelly stamper]

Storytime with Suziewhen Suzie met Suzi

“Is there someone you’ve looked up to and admired for years, thinking you’d only ever get to meet them in a dreamworld or alternate universe?”

Well for me, this someone was Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. She is the cofounder, brand ambassador and creative visionary behind the revolutionary brand of nail products established in the early 80’s known as OPI. When I started my nail career thirty-two years ago, I found OPI’s products quickly and fell in love with them instantly. I remember being excited to see what OPI would come up with next. From their unprecedented range of polish colours to the funky names they chose for them like ‘Not Really a Waitress,’ and ‘Pedal Faster Suzi.’ It made my clients’ nail experiences more personalized and fun, which made my job as their tech more rewarding. This along with their high quality dipping powders and acrylics effortlessly rose them to the top of the industry (as well as to the top of my personal product collection!).

Fast forward to present day, when I was invited to mentor at the 2019 Beauty Envision Awards in Los Angeles, California. My role would include guiding the contestants through the competition and giving them moral support. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would also be in charge of briefing the judge of the competition on all of the contestants’ progress throughout the event. The judge of BEA this year happened to be (you may have guessed) the Suzi Weiss-Fischmann of OPI!

Now, if this was an opportunity I had gotten in my 20’s when I first began my career, I would have been incredibly nervous! However, with thirty years passed and becoming more mature and experienced in the field and in life in general, I was able to approach the opportunity from a different place. I felt excited- yet calm- realizing that I had grown up now to where Suzi was when I looked up to her back then. Being two women in the nail industry (and with the same name to boot!), I knew we must have at least a few things in common.

“If this was an opportunity I had gotten in my 20’s when I first began my career, I would have been incredibly nervous!”

There was a lot I had thought to ask Suzi upon getting the chance to meet her in person. I thought about it over the years and in the months leading up to our encounter. However, I knew that I didn’t want to put pressure on either of us and peppering her with all my pressing questions felt unnatural and forced. So, I decided to simply live in the moment with her and skip what would have been my ‘interview.’

After introducing myself and internally releasing my initial ‘starstruck’ feeling, I was able to chat with Suzi like I would with a new friend or even a client that I was meeting for a first appointment. I got to know her as a person. While Suzi is certainly monumental and a legend in the nail world, she is also a mother- just like me and so many others. During our conversation, we chatted about our current events and lives, children and grandchildren and our travels. We actually didn’t end up speaking about business much at all, which I imagine might have been a nice break for her in her day. I learned what a wonderful woman Suzi is, even beyond the success of her career.

[photo: suzie with suzi at the b.e.a. awards]

“While Suzi is certainly monumental and a legend in the nail world, she is also a mother- just like me and so many others.”

On the final night of the Beauty Envision Awards, Suzi and I were to come onstage and present the 2019 award to the winner of the competition. At this point of the event, Suzi and I were well acquainted, so we were chatting backstage while watching the onstage monitors, waiting for our cue to come out. Live stage events are not something either of us do on a frequent basis, but we were poised and positioned regardless of any nerves we may have had. I was to enter the stage first with Suzi being called after me, but as they called my name, Suzi habitually started walking out, thinking of course that they were calling her. So, we ended up walking onstage together- which was really cute! After we announced and congratulated BEA 2019’s competition winner, we walked offstage together again even though we were choreographed to leave on opposite sides.

To actually get the opportunity to meet someone like Suzi- who I have known about and have followed along their career, using their products and innovations for decades- is simply surreal. While it was an absolute honour meeting the trendsetting nail mogul that Suzi is, getting to hang out with the super cool and down-to-earth woman behind it all made it even more special.

Halloween Inspired Spider Web Nail Artby Hien Trong Pham

Are your nails Halloween ready?

Complete your October look with this bold design that’s oh so creepy crawly... in the best way!

Products Used (LeChat):

  • Gel polishes #007, #030 and #049
  • Base and top coat
  • Detailer and detailer II brushes
  • Matte topcoat
  • Gelée cleanser
  • Translucent gels #3, #6 and #8
  • Perfect Match dipping base
  • Perfect Match dip powders #7 and #30
  • Black Spider gel

(To create the spiders)

  • 3-in-1 powder in black and white
  • 3D brush
  • Perfect Match Gel #30

* Rhinestones by Glitz Accessories & Such

You can create this nail art design on any nail shape, however the more room you have to work with, the better! Here we chose a long stiletto nail to give us ample room as well as to add to the boldness of this look.

  1. To begin, apply one coat of white gel polish #007 to your nail and cure for 30 seconds.

  2. Next, add two coats of gel polish #049 and cure for another 30 seconds.

  3. Continue by applying your matte top coat and cure, this time for one minute. Apply the gelée cleanser and wipe away to reveal a matte finish.

  4. Using the detailer brush and Black Spider gel polish, hover overtop of the nail, letting the gel fall behind it to create a trail. Overlap the trail of lines on top of each other as many times as you want to have your “web” look the way you like. Cure for 30 seconds and apply another layer of matte top coat.

  5. Create spiders separately on a non-stick paper (wax or plastic) by using 3-in-1 black and white powders with the 3D brush. Pick up one small bead for the spiders’ head and another larger bead for its body. After allowing the powder to dry in place on the paper, move it to the nail using a drop of dipping base to stick it where you want on the web. Draw its legs out from in between the head and the body using gel polishes #7 and #30.

  6. Complete the look with adding rhinestones on various lines of the spiders’ web!

Hien Trong Pham

Also known as Henry, Hien is a nail technician with almost twenty years of experience in the industry. After immigrating to Canada from Vietnam in 2002, Hien registered for a nail class that was being offered at his high school and has been obsessed with the craft ever since. Hien has competed in several nail competitions including Nail Pro, IBS and ISSE. He has consistently placed in the top 10 and won first place in Novice Fantasy Art at IBS 2017 and ISSE 2018. He currently works as an international educator for LeChat Nail Care Products and as a celebrity nail artist. “I think everybody in the beauty industry have beautiful minds and technically speaking, I love to make people look beautiful.”

Find Henry and his work on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook!

[sponsor: bemi beauty box]

Quartz CollectionAymehnails x Bemi Beauty Box

Dreamy, creamy colors. QUARTZ gel polish is a collaboration by Aymehnails and Bemi Beauty Box. This QUARTZ COLLECTION comes with 5 milky shades that are extremely versatile. Add a sheer kiss of color to nails or create perfect QUARTZ designs by building layers of sheer dimension. 5 custom colors that are conveniently formulated to create endless dreamy nails.


10 Questions with the Queen of Blingwith Jenny Bui

Jenny Bui

AKA The Queen of Bling, Jenny is a nail technician and salon owner of the renowned Nails on 7th located in the Bronx, New York. Her signature nail style of bold stiletto nails with lots of bling caught the attention of now well known rapper, songwriter and actress Cardi B, who personally asked Jenny to do her nails at her salon years ago. Cardi still visits Jenny’s salon today for her regular nail appointments and special events and Jenny’s nails have become an iconic symbol for the American triple threat.

Find Jenny and Nails on 7th on Instagram!

We got a chance to ask Jenny 10 questions!

How and when did you discover that you had a passion for nails?

I started doing nails about twenty-three years ago. I was actually in beauty school to be a hairstylist, but that was very hard. I went to a nail salon and observed everyone. It interested me and looked fun! It became my true passion more than hair and fashion.

What other jobs did you work before starting as a nail tech?

My first job ever was picking strawberries in Canada. After that I worked as a waitress. Then, I worked in a dental office as an assistant. My fourth job was working as an employee in a nail shop.

“I worked in a nail shop for three months before opening my own salon, and I was the only employee for two years before I was able to hire a team.”

[photo: fabulous nails, blue crystals design]

Were your nervous about opening up your first salon? And what made you decide to run your own business as opposed to working for someone else?

I was nervous, but very determined to open a salon. I don’t like people to tell me what to do; I like to be myself and do my own thing. I worked in a nail shop for three months before opening my own salon, and I was the only employee for two years before I was able to hire a team.

You are the Queen of Bling! How did you get this name?

I’ve always been @NailsOn7TH on Instagram, but a few years ago I noticed my followers starting to call me Queen of Bling. I started calling myself that too and it stuck!

Throughout your nail career, what would you say is your proudest moment?

My proudest moments have come from hearing how many people I inspire to explore nail art and BLING.

How did you become Cardi B’s nail tech? Do you have a personal relationship with her outside of your client-tech relationship?

[photo: jenny with cardi-b]

My first memory of Cardi is when she came to my salon, but I was too busy to do her nails. One of my employees did her nails, but she didn’t like them. She came back and asked my husband Billy if I could do her nails. Luckily, one of my customers cancelled that day and I was able to take her appointment. This was six years ago! My relationship with Cardi now is pretty much the same. I still see her about once a month, and definitely for her big events. She is such a busy woman, but she has been a very loyal client throughout her growth and fame. I think we get along because we are both REAL and humble. We are honest and care for each other.

[photo: jenny]

“My proudest moments have come from hearing how many people I inspire to explore nail art and BLING.”

You have an incredible origin story and have worked so hard to be where you are now. What advice would you give to someone coming from similar circumstances?

Work hard. Stay focused. Don’t care too much about the haters and the people who talk bad about your business. Remain humble through everything.

Do you have someone who you look up to and admire?

[photo: jenny]

There isn’t anyone I look up to, but I’m always inspired by the fashion of New York City. I find inspiration from things, places, seasons and people. I love the diversity in my city, because it fuels my creativity.

“I’m always inspired by the fashion of New York City. I find inspiration from things, places, seasons and people. I love the diversity in my city, because it fuels my creativity.”

When you’re not working at your renowned salon in the Bronx, New York, how do you spend your time?

I usually spend ALL of my free time with my family. They are my support system and mean so much to me. I like to relax on the weekends by staying home and catching up on TV shows I miss during the week.

You have accomplished so much in your career. Is there anything you still want to do in the nail world that you haven’t yet?

I really want to do more classes, teaching my techniques. Doing bling is my passion, so I always hope to have that time to still be creative, but there are some other things I want to accomplish. I want to grow my JennySecret product line and brand.

Find Jenny and Nails on 7th on Instagram!

5 Things I've Learned as a New Nail Techby Tisha Mills

As a beginner nail technician working on clients for the first time, there are many things I have learned- besides how difficult it is to type with long stiletto nails! Putting the actual craft of constructing nails aside, I thought it would be helpful to focus on what I’ve realized about the more personal aspect of the job, as a lot of what being a good nail tech includes is tending to your clients on this level.

  1. You will learn about your clients’ lives

    (photo: woman gossips into the ear of another)

    Many of your clients will come in wanting to tell you about their day and to put it simply- vent- during their appointment. It’s important to listen to them and make them feel comfortable in doing so, but don’t lose focus on the nails. Remember that you are their nail technician first and foremost. While keeping up conversation with your clients is fundamental in building a good rapport, you want to make sure not to overstep your professional boundaries with them. Our job as techs is to make our clients’ nails look good, not to tell them how to live their lives; that is entirely their business. Besides someone being in danger, what our clients tell us is in confidence, and should remain that way. This aspect of the job can feel emotionally draining at times, but the clients who you have a natural connection with will make it all worthwhile.

  2. Every client has different needs

    You’ll find your clientele comes from all different walks of life, and as such, they all require different up-keep, treatment and styles for their nails. A police officer might want a short, square nail design while a makeup artist may prefer long stiletto nails. As well, different lifestyles your clients lead will affect their nails in different ways. Everytime your client comes in for a fill, the state of their nails tells a story about their day to day, which is unique to them and their circumstances. I for example, used to work as a server at a restaurant. The gel polish I wore would chip and peel easily as I was constantly washing my hands and my nails would be much more prone to breaking, due to handling heavy dishes everyday. Not to mention, all the major cleaning would take a big toll on the wear and tear of my nails. As nail techs, it’s our job to recognize and consider all these factors for each of our clients when tending to their nails.

  3. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t like

    (photo: overwhelmed woman facepalming)

    I’ve had clients ask for designs I would never choose for myself or suggest. I’ve been asked to create nails that are flat, nails that are thick at the ends, crazy designs and polish colours I would never personally put together. Design requests that actually alter the structure and integrity of the nail, going against everything we’ve learned in creating a long lasting and properly formed nail are certainly the toughest to go through with. However, while you can explain to your client what their design will be sacrificing as far as functionality and durability, ultimately, it’s their decision what they decide they want for their nails... Even if it makes you cringe inside!

  4. You’re going to mess up!

    You are going to make mistakes, and that is completely okay! Being a beginner in the intricate craft of nails, you will certainly experience your fair share of trial and error. It is so important to allow yourself the space to do so, without any harsh judgments or external pressures. Depending on your comfort level, you can start practicing on fake finger tips and hands or you can ask your friends, family and even your co-workers if they would offer their time for you to practice on them. Using inanimate tips and hands are great for working out your obvious bugs, while moving onto live models gets you closer to the actual client experience. Of course, your friends, family and acquaintances will be patient and forgiving, which is exactly what you need while learning. When you’re ready to take on work, offer your initial sets for free, then at a discounted price once you’re comfortable with your ability.

  5. Give yourself the time you need

    (photo: a coffee and a clock)

    Everyone is learning and growing at their own pace: including you. It is essential to take your time with this process. The process of learning the skill of nails as well as the process of building relationships with your clientele both take time. Allow yourself as much as you need, and be patient and compassionate to yourself along the way. We are artists! Creativity needs time and room to grow! Becoming a skilled nail tech does not come overnight. So, instead of rushing yourself, choose to enjoy soaking up all the knowledge and experience.

Tisha Mills

Tisha is Nail District’s newest nail tech! Beginning there as receptionist, she quickly became salon manager and has now taken on salon services as well as becoming a gel nail technician. Always having an interest in the beauty industry, Tisha learned her gel technique between watching the techs in the salon, video tutorials and training with Suzie. In just three months, Tisha is booking her clientele. When she’s not at the salon, you can find her drinking a latte somewhere or cuddling at home with her cat.

Keep up with Tisha on Instagram!

Leading the Revival of Nail Artfeaturing Debbie Duxbury, by Karly Moskal

It’s clear after spending any amount of time with Debbie Duxbury- the inventor, entrepreneur and nail industry visionary behind the revolutionizing Clear Jelly Stamper and it’s diverse collection of stamping plates sure to get anyone’s creativity buzzing- that not only is she a businesswoman worth getting behind, but she’s a person everyone loves to be around. And for good reason.

[photo: debbie duxbury]

I was lucky enough to meet Debbie on a few occasions, in probably some of the best venues to get to know the full picture of the hilarious and down-to-earth, yet savvy woman that she is. I’ve been to her home warehouse, which is the original birthplace of CJS and where at the time it consumed the entire lower level of her house. We spent an afternoon once at Disney World with a group of her friends/business associates running around, eating ice cream like kids. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing her in her element; connecting with fellow nail techs over a product she’s personally designed and engineered to make their creative and professional lives remarkably better.

Whether she’s at a theme park on a day off or teaching demos at a trade show or to a small room of learners, Debbie shows up. Even when I sat down to talk with her on a weekday evening over video chat for our interview (while she was nursing a cold no less) Debbie showed up. As I learned throughout our chat and from the time I’ve gotten to know her, Debbie puts her all into what she does. She has a magnetic and genuine quality to her presence, that of which that cannot be ignored, and is infectious.

Debbie Duxbury is the life of the party, and that party is the invention of the Clear Jelly Stamper and the revival it’s brought to nail art.

I had a lot of questions for Debbie about her story and how CJS came to be. Luckily she was more than happy to talk about it at length into the evening with me, while her daughter Chloe’s cat and her husband Nigel appeared in the video session every so often.

Long before Clear Jelly, you worked as a nail technician. When did you start doing nails and how did you get into it?

I actually have to do math to figure out how long I’ve been doing nails… I was eighteen when I started, so- pretty easy math- thirty years! I had been getting my nails done and my nail tech said to me at the time- ‘cause I would get my nails done and then I would come home and reshape them myself because I never liked the way she shaped them- and she said, “Hun, you’re actually doing like the hardest, biggest part of this job. I don’t understand why you’re not doing your own nails.” Nigel was training to be a hairdresser at the time- so he said, “Well, I can get you product.” There was no internet back then, so you couldn’t get product unless you were a professional. I dabbled in nails for years and then finally decided I wanted to be an aesthetician and went and did my proper training and became an aesthetician/nail technician.

Would you say that you took classes, but you were self taught a little bit?

Oh, I had been self taught for probably two years before I went and did training. So, I was incredibly comfortable working with product… the girls [in the class] would actually ask me questions!

Nigel at work in the new CJS warehouse

Did you work at a salon right away?

Actually, Nigel and I moved down to Lethbridge [Alberta] and opened up our own salon and spa. So the first place I ever worked at was my own. (laughs)

So you’ve always done your own thing pretty early on.

Yeah, we’ve always called ourselves, ‘reluctant entrepreneurs.’ (laughs) We’ve jumped in with both feet and have been learning on the fly and we’ve learned a lot through doing that which is really benefiting us [now] with Clear Jelly Stamper. We know enough now to hire people to do the things we’re not good at, so that they get done properly.

How long did you have that [first salon]?

Oh my gosh, years. I think maybe seven years? We had Chloe and decided we didn’t want to have a salon anymore and didn’t want to live in Lethbridge anymore, so we ended up in OkoToks, and we were both working for other people [at their salons] at that time. We probably worked for other people for two years, and then we ended up with a home that was really conducive to having a salon. Nigel did hair, I did nails. I still did facials and pedicures and those kinds of things as well, but that’s when the focus kind of turned to nails.

The very first Clear Jelly Stamper head!
The original CJS mould

So, you’re working steadily as a nail technician for years at this point. How did the switch to product development and the Clear Jelly Stamper come to be?

We decided that we didn’t want to be in Alberta anymore, and we wanted to move to beautiful British Columbia. That’s when Nigel switched jobs. He decided he was done being a hairdresser and went and became a power engineer. He ended up on the Island [Vancouver Island] in Ucluelet. That’s where he got injured. He actually fell through a floor and dropped eighteen feet and broke a bunch of stuff. It was when he was home recovering and he was listening to me complain (laughs) in my [nail] room about my stamper. I was complaining because it was taking far too long to do a set of nails for this girl. We had to reposition over and over again. I would get an image lifted and then I would think I knew where I was putting it and get it on there and it was not in the right spot. And I’m very picky, so I would start over.

And a lot of the work that you did involved the old stamper?

Oh yeah, a lot. When I was able to look at the pretty little images that I could now transfer and put on my clients nails, I was so excited. Because before that, the extent of my nail art was- I was called, “The Daisy Lady,” because I would make little daisies with my white and yellow paint- and that was it, that was the end of it. So to be able to transfer these intricate designs, I was so excited. I was hooked.

“Easily,” right?

Right, yeah. (Laughs) Compared to having to draw them, it was easy.

You found the stamper and you loved it because of what it could do, but then you were using it and realizing the error of its ways, or the shortcomings of it.

The first thing I said the first time I used that thing was, “Why isn’t this clear? How come I can’t see through it?” It was really, really awkward.

The first stamping plate design
The first stamping plate as a finished product!

When Nigel heard you complaining that day, was that the first time or had you been complaining for years?

I had been mentioning a clear jelly stamper for a long time. But I think he was able to sit through an entire service- he was recovering from being injured, so he wasn’t doing anything, and he couldn’t do anything- so he was just sitting there with sort of me as entertainment, listening to me and my customer and what we were going through and it was very frustrating. I think I was notably frustrated. I think it took me an extra forty minutes to do that set of nails. When I came out he [Nigel] says, “Okay, what do you need?” I’m like, “What? What do you mean what do I need?” “What do you need for a clear jelly stamper?” So I said, “Honestly Nigel, I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I have an idea for a handle... but we’ve got to find this, that and the other thing.” And he went and found all of those things. And we started experimenting and we had our first clear jelly stamper.

How long would you say that process took of him sourcing everything?

It was probably... a good year. A year of research and development.

What was it like to have it in your hands and use it for the first time?

Oh, it was elating! I remember Nigel finding… it was actually (laughs) a piece of plumbing that we were able to pour our compound into. We didn’t think we’d be able to demold it. So when we were actually able to demold it the next day, I was so excited! I could hardly see straight. I went into my room and had my polish ready to go and a couple of images and started to just play with it. And initially, I wasn’t picking up much, because my technique was all wrong. Different compound, different technique. So, once I figured out that the lighter my touch was that I was able to lift a full image, it just improved from there.

Am I correct that with the old stampers you couldn’t layer images because you couldn’t see what you’re doing. But then with yours, it made that possible?

That honestly was the thing I was the most excited about. It’s funny, the image that actually led me to realize we need a clear stamper because then I’d be able to do the design, was the Canadian flag. I’m like, holy smokes, if we had the images on here that corresponded properly, I could put the white down first, then the red on top, and boom! I’ve got a flag! And all my clients that want their Canada Day nails would have these beautiful designs. I could see the potential of the layering; the benefit of being able to make something intricate, but quickly. Especially from the standpoint of a nail tech.

Looking down the barrel of the first model of the CJS stamper ⚜️ One of the first stamping plates

So, the stamping plates that you design for Clear Jelly Stamper are with this layering technique in mind?

Yes, they’re customizable. Now you can design a completely cohesive look where- maybe you want to have say, the flowers of your design match the tips you’ve built your nails with- now I can do a completely cohesive look and totally customize the flowers or the butterflies or the little details you put on there, easily.

When you created the Clear Jelly Stamper, did you make stamping plates right away for it?

Yeah, we had plates made right from the get go. I knew that I needed layered plates, that that was going to be something that was endless. The possibilities are literally endless.

Before the Clear Jelly Stamper, what was a nail tech’s option for colour customizing an image?

It was using decals, or stickers. You would lift one with your stamper and leave it on the stamper, and paint on it- like adult colouring. Then you would paint clear nail polish over top of that- let it dry! (laughs) And then you would take it and adhere it to the nail with clear nail polish. Put that down first… It was just a process! Like, forget it. The hobbyists were big into that for sure, but there’s no way a nail tech would have time for that. All that drying, no.

The original CJS HQ in Debbie’s home ⚜️ Just a section of CJS HQ today

How many stamping plates did you start off with?

I want to say three, but I feel like we only started off with one, and quickly added two. And then, we’ve been trying to add a plate a week since then. I think we have 270 now- different plates.

You never run out of ideas, do you?

Oh my god, girl, I’ve got a list… My head like explodes daily with all the ideas that want to come out of it and into plates!

Second CJS handle made clear
A product photo session in the early days

So, once you had your stamper and your first stamping plates tested and ready. From a business standpoint, what did you do next? How did you market the stamper?

At that time, my daughter was showing me Instagram. And it dawned on me that when in history have we had a place where people with like minds and similar interests gather in such a way that you can put up a post, and reach these people specifically? It’s never happened in history. So I thought, well, we’ve developed this product that works and that’s great, but now what? Well, with Instagram and with what we have with the internet, you can sell at your fingertips. As soon as I started using it, I thought, wow, this is powerful stuff. I can reach nail techs specifically. We’re all gathering in the same place and following the same things and showing each other cool stuff. That really changed things for me. I saw how quick and easy it could be to reach my people. So, that’s how we did the marketing.

So you basically just started posting about it and kept doing that?

Yep. And it just kept going and going, and people told other people and so on and so on.

How did it feel to finally release the Clear Jelly Stamper?

So exciting! I can’t even describe the feeling. My mom and my girlfriend were at the house with me. And I said, “Okay, we’re gonna put this post up, and see what happens.” And we pressed that return button, and- oh, just the electricity- it was terrifying and exciting all wrapped up into one big ball of crazy! And actually, the first post that we put up- it was nuts- we crashed the site we were on.

When this new and different stamper that is Clear Jelly was out there and was being marketed and talked about, did you get any negative feedback about it?

Yes. With our initial compound for our first Clear Jelly Stamper there was a lot of that. Because it was so delicate and it was a little tricky. You had to be careful with it and you had to treat it a certain way. And so yeah, it was pretty nerve racking initially until we came up with the next compound that was a lot more resilient.

Was it a big movement to be like, this is a different stamper so it works differently?

Oh yeah! It’s interesting, and I’ve learned this through just this whole journey, I really felt I was reaching people going to the shows. CNTC here in Canada was one of the first times I ran a demo for the Clear Jelly Stamper. I was super nervous, ‘cause I was going to sit in front of my peers and they’re gonna tell me, “This stuff doesn’t work.” But as soon as I was able to sit down and say, “Okay, when I tell you to use light pressure, this is what I’m talking about.” And I would do my demo on the back of their hand and they’d be like, “Oh, that really is light.” And boom, they’d get it. And I’d be getting messages from them going, “Oh my gosh, I went home immediately and tried my stuff and you’re absolutely right. I use light pressure and it works and this is so much fun.” But it didn’t matter how many videos I put out saying this is how light pressure, because you can’t tell somebody how light. So, it was tricky.

You did a lot of those types of shows then?

Yep, as many as we could. We got out there and got touching people (laughs). That sounds creepy! But yeah, we got out there teaching classes and those kinds of things. And our customers were really amazing at jumping on social media if somebody was struggling and saying, oh try this, try that. They were amazing at helping people get that technique, because it was a totally different technique.

Right, and that would be difficult to switch techniques, if someone has been stamping a certain way for years.

Totally, totally. It’s like, how come this tool doesn’t work? I’m doing it [stamping] the same way I’ve always done it... I know how to stamp! It even took me a long time, when I was playing with the things that we were inventing, until I realized, hey, this does work. But you have to do it differently.

Not only did you invent, develop and bring to market the Clear Jelly Stamper and its layering stamping plates, but you also created a specially formulated stamping polish for the CJS. Tell me about that.

A lot of the existing stamping polishes at the time didn’t work great with the Clear Jelly Stamper. We realized early on that we needed a better solution to that and there was not a solution. We discovered that highly pigmented stamping polish- like the more pigment we could get into a stamping polish- the better it lifted. So, we developed these types of stamping polishes, with the Clear Jelly Stamper in mind. The polishes work with any stamper you throw at it, but it was made for the CJS.

Debbie’s designer Angela at the new HQ!

And you’ve gone on to include a wide selection of nail products in the CJS store.

What I wanted to create was a place where people could come and get everything that they needed. As a nail tech myself, I didn’t like having to go to five different shops and pay shipping at each one to get the things I needed to do the things I wanted to do. So, I wanted the kind of shop where they could come for their stamper, their stamping plates, their polish… Then we added brushes, we added practice tips for their nails, those kinds of things… We added mats, and I wanted my mats to be pretty. Before we developed our mats, they were always some kind of grey and- I don’t know- I don’t like seeing pictures of someone’s gorgeous nails with this boring mat underneath... I want something pretty behind it!

As far as your CJS team, Nigel is an integral part. It’s really you and him, right?

100%, yes. He helped me start my dream of CJS and after he was healed from his injury, he found out that he had PTSD really badly from his experience, and he ended up going back to University for another trade. So, when we launched the Clear Jelly Stamper, I was doing everything on my own while he went back to school. When it was time to go back for his second year, CJS grew to the point where I couldn’t manage it without him. So, he had to make the decision, do I want to go back to University or am I going to become the COO of this company? And that was not a hard decision. And I couldn’t do this without him. He is incredibly organized and he has handled so much of the logistical end of CJS.

Brand new Clear Jelly Stamper Headquarters

Is your team much bigger now than when you started out?

It’s still pretty small. I was doing everything at the beginning, and then we added our first team member, Leslie, who’s been with me from the start. Then Nigel came back into the picture and as we kept growing, we added a couple more people here and there. At one point we had about five people working at the house, depending on the time of year, and that’s pretty much what we have now permanently at the new location. CJS was invented, developed and initially ran out of your home in Kelowna, BC. Since then, how have you expanded? Initially, it was just a room in the house where we did all the picking and packing. There were only five products (laughs). We ended up adding more products and growing and running out of room in that room, so expanded throughout the house. Long story short, we eventually took over the entire lower level of our home and our garage, and we had a number of external storage sites where we kept all of our product. After that, we grew to the point where we needed to move into a warehouse.

Tell me about this new location!

It’s brand new! We’ve been there for about three months. It’s our warehouse, nail centre, filming studio and boutique. We call it HQ. We have two nail technicians working in the boutique, which is a wonderful resource for me. I was so excited! To have nail techs back around me- because I’m never at my desk at home. So, I’ll sit down with new plates or to do a video, or a live feed. Because to sit down at a desk as a nail tech, I don’t have time to do that anymore. I haven’t had time to do that in a long time. So now, I get a bunch of plates- we just had a bunch of our Halloween plates come off the line- and I was able to go up front and say [to my techs], “Here, go forth. Make pretty. Give me some gorgeous manis!”

That’s so cool, because it kind of came around full circle there. Because that’s where you started and you do really like it and it excites you. I have been so passionate about this industry for so long. I can’t believe I haven’t grown tired of it! It’s a passion, it’s an art. It’s people, and it’s art all wrapped into one beautiful package.

With Cheryl from Fuzion at a Las Vegas Trade Show

What would you say you have learned from your journey of bringing the Clear Jelly Stamper to the world? And how has it changed your life?

Anything is possible. It sounds so cliche, but it’s fundamentally true. If you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work for it, it can happen. And how has it changed my life... I guess it’s opened up the world for me. I’m meeting people from all over the world, people that I would never have had the opportunity to become friends with otherwise. I have friends in Germany, in Russia, in Iceland… It’s (makes mind blowing gesture) incredible. The people I’m meeting and the connections I’m making with people who love our stuff, with people who are interested in what we’re creating, and people I’ve just connected with! It’s really exciting. It’s a lot of fun. I’m really, really proud of what we’ve done.

As you should be!

Right. We revolutionized a multi-billion dollar industry. We changed the stamping world forever.

That is your legacy.

Yeah (laughs). Who would have thought?!

Find Clear Jelly Stamper on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

Karly Moskal

Karly is NCE Magazine’s lead editor and writer. She also teaches guitar and works as a freelance musician. She lives in Victoria, BC, Canada with her dog Ferris!

You can find Karly on Instagram.

Suzie Submissionsby You, the NCE Community!

Suzie’s picks from YOUR nail photos tagged online!

Use the hashtag #suziesubmissions on your best nail photos on Instagram for a chance to be featured in the next issue of NCE Magazine!

  1. “From the delicate butterfly to this gentle hue of yellow, I feel like I’m a believer in fairytales! Love it.”

  2. “First off, I love the shape of these nails! The nail bed is very narrow and long, which makes the shape of the nail flattering everywhere. I love how this artist has separated the pastel coloured stripes with gold lines. Such a pleasing detail. And the drawings are adorable!”

  3. “Just in time for back to school! Such a clever idea. And the attention to detail here with the black lines being a little wobbly in between is perfect. Looks just like the crayon pack we all had when we were in school!”

  4. “Painting straight lines on a surface that isn’t flat seems like it would be easy, but it can be very challenging. You’ve got to have a super steady hand. This artist has just that and created this wonderful rainbow design. Bouncing the rainbow off a soft pink background gives it a natural feel. Such a happy set of nails!”

  5. “This almond shape first caught my attention. Then I saw the stamping design and realized- it’s the stamping plate I collaborated with Clear Jelly Stamper on! So rewarding to see a vision come to life through another nail artist admiring it enough to create with it! I’m flattered- and a fan of their design!”

  6. “Lovely pairing of soft pink and sparkle. I like how one of the sparkle nails is completely covered while the other one has a gentle fade. The gradual pink fade overtop of the sparkle gives it a submerged effect. Nice touch. So pretty.”

  7. “Love the harmony this colour combination creates. Whenever I see yellow, it feels so right to pair it with sky blue. And the lemons! How adorable for summer!”

  8. “The intertwining of these colours is fantastic! There’s separation and blending at the same time! It stands out so well on the stark white background. It’s almost a shame it’s on such a tiny canvas- these could easily be hung on a gallery wall!”

  9. “So lovely! The pastel pink and soft grey create a perfect backdrop for these delicate little floral accents. And with the sparkled nails, this set is brought up a couple notches. Its wearer is ready for anything ‘smart casual,’ like a wedding or high tea!”

  10. “I love how the theme of reading is depicted here and the artist didn’t forget to include one of the best parts of curling up with a book... sipping a hot drink! Coffee or tea- in my case hot chocolate! So cozy!”