Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I Did for Twenty Years ! ! ! Part Two

Four years prior to that I had been working full-time and had almost full-time college course work in musical flute performance on my schedule plate, too. During the years between 1984 and 1987 I had played as third flute on what was then the Denver Symphony Orchestra stage (now the Colorado Symphony) on numerous occasions, sang and played for weddings and funerals and formed a flute/guitar duo with a Denver Public School teacher. I had started taking lessons when I lived in San Diego back in the early 80s and felt that I wanted to master my sound on it. This led to college even though I wasn't really looking to get a degree. My musicianship blossomed with every course I took whether it was theory, lab or an ensemble. It was a busy and exciting time for me but I always managed to find time to write poetry and composed my own songs.

I traveled extensively for years after 1983 attending trade shows for my profession in California, Arizona and even Massachusetts adding new services to my menu with each class. Very few nail technicians offer as many different mediums as I do so I took my artisanship in nails to the highest level. ( I know every type of artificial application whether it is acrylic extensions, gel, silk, linen, fiberglass or paper overlays (the latter of which is very passe'.) To this day I maintain my inventory to offer everything that is in my scope and capability. My vacations usually coincided with shows and classes but one year I really took a "time-off" vacation to Jamaica in 1989 which I found intriguing but also beguiling. Perhaps relaxing vacations were meant for other types of individuals. I remember renting a car and gallivanting all over the island!

A fond memory of learning about airbrushing comes to mind from the originators of the practice of doing this medium on nails. The people collectively owned a company called Colormist ( TM) and they developed the special airbrush stream to be 1/100th the usual width especially for nail art. The designs below show how muted and elegant the designs were and you could make your own templates to create the unique designs. We were only limited by our imagination. Imagine my dismay at what passes for airbrushing designs today. I don't care for most of them because they don't appear elegant to me. They get paint all over the fingers which has to be wiped off. The designs look crude and ostentatious. It may be a matter of taste but the designs below speak for themselves. Today I still do all my nail art with individual brushes to do hand-painted art and I have had many people tell me that my work is unsurpassed. I enjoy doing it my way and not the cookie-cutter method which prevails now.

After eleven years of working both in Colorado and California as an independent contractor (primarily) I took a month off from my daily schedule for a writing sabbatical to set about the business of getting my first book of poetry published. I'll never regret the time I took to find out what the life of a writer entails. The work is very solitary but quite fulfilling. I'll have to say that it is not the life for a loquacious individual unless you become a journalist. Otherwise, it is quite a bit of isolation combined with the fortitude of a nun and a very exacting business as well.

My book Seasons of the Heart was published in July and I did several poetry readings. When I went back to my work as a nail technician I found that my nail clients were the people most keenly interested in my book of anyone. They made my sales phenomenal for a first run book by an unknown poet. (For people outside of the literary world, poetry is the least money-making of all books published and they rarely print more than a few thousand copies even for well-known poets. My book paid for its own printing with the first one hundred sales!)

A little more than a year later, (1990) I decided to get serious about starting my own salon and I found a storefront in which the location was virtually untapped. There were no nail salons in the area and it was a prime business location. Two minutes after signing the lease contract with the owner of the strip mall I had a deja vu moment that told me I had made a decision that would change my life.

When I opened my doors on the first day half my clientele dropped off, telling me that they wouldn't drive as far as my location even though they all had followed me around a ten or more mile radius away from the location I'd started working when I returned to Colorado in 1983 ! I was a little stunned because it was obvious the snob factor had set in, of course. However, I rebuilt the missing clientele within a short time, due to constant prayer on my part and a faithful fortitude that I attribute to being the offspring of a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners.

After three successful years my lease was up and I started looking for a new location since my landlord decided to triple my rent! The only negative factor that I had experienced with salon ownership at that point was finding good, steady employees. This was very frustrating but I found that with being in charge I could make up for the lack of their standards with my own. Since I set the standard there was no one over me with any inhibiting factor of lack of expertise affecting the clientele. It was a great position for someone of my professional stature to keep.

Sure enough, I found a new location only three blocks away and I expanded my service and added a boutique. My biggest profit year occurred at that second location and I enjoyed it more as well. Because the space was quite small and cozy I felt it was necessary to completely redecorate it and I watched my clientele increase. I learned more about my capabilities in those seven years than at any other time of my life. If you want to build your character ( or test it!) start a business !

All during the years that I owned my salon, which was during the years 1990 to 1997, I used my flute playing skills by going back to a church I had attended many years before, on the strength of my mother's preference for the pastor's wife's teachings, to play in their orchestra. This is Marilyn Hickey's home base (ORCC) where I played flute or sang for their church for more than thirteen years! I also involved myself as an actress in the plays the director, Scot Aspromonte, ran from 1998 and really found my niche, I believe. For an interlude during the years '95 to '97 my flute playing and singing took a detour to a little church not far away from my relocated salon which was called "Good News". I was able to utilize my session playing very well there and had a very appreciative crowd for my solo singing, too.

More to come from The Castle Lady ! ; )

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