Marian Newman Interview – The Fashion Industry’s Favourite Manicurist

By Inspirationail

Marian Newman

Website & Places you can find me online:
Makeup Mole: Marian Newman
Scratch Mag: Stomp Scratch Awards

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Way back I was a forensic scientist! I stopped this when I had a family but my ‘head’ is always a bit in the ‘nerdy’ area of scientific fact. When my youngest child went to playschool (I have 3, all grown up now) I decided to do some training and, by accident, discovered a pretty new professional nail industry. I found it fascinating from the start, mostly because there was so much ‘science’ involved in it together with creativity. What was particularly interesting was that so much of the ‘science bit’ was unanswered so I had to find out the answers. I have to say that the first place where I started to find many answers was CND and Doug Schoon.

My career has included most of the areas of the industry, from a salon to teaching, from product development to sessions, from writing to creating ‘extreme’ nails.

Paris Fashion Week

Image © Philippe Ardouin 2009

The ‘nails only’ salon I opened with my business partner in 1987 is still there and still busy! I’ve always been involved with the industry as a whole. Years ago there was a relatively successful trade association: the International Nail Association. It tried to do what associations are supposed to do: i.e. represent those working in the industry. Many of the originators of the industry in the UK as we know it today were active in it and I was very pleased to be elected as President for 3 yrs running. As with many things, lack of financial support and commitment saw it come to an end. It went to the BIA (as Habia was then) and then on to The Guild but it has disappeared now which is a shame.

The Complete Nail Technician

What inspired you to write the book “The Complete Nail Technician”?
Training was very ad hoc in the industry. There were National Standards but ‘nails’ were buried in Beauty Therapy.

When I wrote my first book, Standards for very specific nail skills were just about to be published. There was no text book that covered these requirements in Europe so I was asked to write one.

The Standards eventually evolved a bit more and a ‘nail services’ route in the Beauty Therapy Standards was created which needed an updated version of the book. Now there is a whole range of Standards dedicated to the Nail Services industry.

The structure of my book is very specific: if a student starts at the beginning and works through it in sequence, they should have all the basics to make a good nail technician. I strongly believe that this sequence is right! Jumping about and not learning the basics first is a long way away from good teaching practice. The second edition has done well and has been reprinted many times and is sold in several countries!


You are Chairperson for the Nail Services Forum, on the Committee for HABIA and also help shape the qualification structure, what achievements within this aspect of nails are you most proud of?
There is no one thing that I can take any individual acknowledgement for. Everything has involved many people.

I think the best progress is having the nail industry recognised and acknowledged as a stand alone profession. This has been a long hard struggle. I was working towards this long before Habia existed!

The only authority in the industry way back was the HBTTB (Health and Beauty Therapy Training Board) which has long disappeared as beauty merged with hairdressing and Habia was created. Beauty therapists have, historically, not been too keen on nail services and they would never recognise the profession! All different now!

Streeters London

You were the first UK technician to work on a top level fashion shoot, what are the major changes have you seen?
Having a ‘manicurist’ on a fashion shoot was seen as very strange then! I used to get comments like: “Oo, it must be a posh shoot of you’re here!” It’s certainly not like that now! There were only a couple of people working as a sessions technician and only when they could fit it into their salon column! I think I was probably the first to give up everything else to concentrate on sessions which was in 2000.

Daily fees have gotten a bit better but not a huge amount, especially recently when ‘budgets’ are king! Every hair and make up agency now has a nail person. It was always the make up artists that were expected to do nails (and often still are). It took a few of the big make up artists to start refusing to do it that made a big change! I worked with them all and was fortunately able to demonstrate that it is worth having a nail person there! They couldn’t (and didn’t want to) paint nails as good as me or carry enough colours. They certainly couldn’t make nails longer and still look natural! I could!!

Paris Fashion Week

Images © Philippe Ardouin 2009

You covered hundreds of Minx nails for McQueen’s show at Paris Fashion Week 2009, what is it like working under that kind of pressure?
I’d be lying if I said it was a breeze! There’s far more to it than people realise. I do like working under that sort of pressure though. But only if I’ve done all the preparation first so I don’t get any surprises!

I’ve done it for a long time so have many tricks and solutions, plus I have a brilliant team around me who I couldn’t work without. I used to do shows on my own! How on earth did I do that???

Does your involvement in the fashion industry inspire your work?
To a certain extent. Fashion certainly drives ideas and tastes in nail length, shape and colour. But, at the end of the day, I’m a big believer that the person looking at their nails is the one to be listened and, frankly, anything goes. In my sessions work I need to be able to bring something new all the time. I think that may be one of my strengths! I can make a nail out of anything!!! Even a bit of wool (as seen in an Italian Vogue a while ago!).

Paris Fashion Week

Image © Philippe Ardouin 2009

From big shows to photo shoots to industry standards, you do it all. What is your favorite aspect of your career?
People! But I do love inventing things and coming up with ideas.

As an industry figurehead do you have any tips for ambitious nail techs who want to break into the fashion nail industry?
The fashion nail industry only really happens in the capital cities. So, move to London (not easy!!!). Be prepared to work for free for ages (impossible). Be able to do anything and everything and do it quietly and as part of a much bigger team (not for everyone). Over the years I have been happy to let many technicians assist me so they can see what it is all about. There are very few who then want to do it. Those that do stayed with me until they were ready to go it alone. Others are still with me (thank goodness!!!)

Paris Fashion Week

Image © Philippe Ardouin 2009

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the nail industry, what would it be?
Fabulous education! When a young person (or older person) decides they want to be a hairdresser or beauty therapist they know it will take a long training! When they want to be a nail technician so many think it is a 2 day course then ‘loads of money’! It’s like being a waxer or beauty therapist!!! Be the nail technician or beauty therapist! Not the waxer or nail ‘hobbyist’!!

What is the advice you find yourself giving over and over again about nails?
To technicians: don’t skimp on education and learn the factual basics first.

Don’t get into nail art until you can provide perfect natural and artificial nail services. Make an artificial nail look totally natural before you break the rules and get into nail art!

The media: how to paint nails!!!!

Paris Fashion Week

Images © Philippe Ardouin 2009

Have you seen the nail industry change as a result of the Internet?
Absolutely! One of the best things is The Salon Geek. It is such a sharing, helping, supportive site. So many people think it is biased but I am very sceptical about that. People are too sensitive. I wish I’d had it at the beginning.

One of the bad things is that new technicians can see so much in the nail art area and want to halt their basic training to do all the fun and pretty stuff! That’s wrong. Learn the rules then know how to break them!

Many nail technicians look up to you, who is it you admire?
I’m not going to name people as I could miss someone out. The characteristics that I admire are: skill, dedication, open mindedness and the willingness to share. This isn’t exclusive to the nail industry. I’ve been lucky enough to work with many people that fall into this category in so many areas.

Paris Fashion Week

Images © Philippe Ardouin 2009

What upcoming trends do you see for 2010 and beyond?
Nails, nails and more nails! I have been around long enough to see a few circles.

Nails are about to have one of their moments. Colour will be fabulous; nail design of the Minx type will be essential; consumers may even take another look at artificial nails (but only done beautifully and safely).

Besides nails, what else do you love to do?
Cook and spend time at home with my family. There’s no time for anything else!!

More To Come

This interview is part of our Minx Nails week on Inspirationail, a big thanks to Marian for answering our questions. To learn more about Marian, be sure to visit her website

Stay tuned for more interesting interviews with other fun & fearless members of the nail industry.


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