Hey everyone and welcome to a very special article where we meet someone tremendous in our industry! I would like to bring out our special guest Dean Darcy, she is the Head of Education at Light Elegance University! Darcy is one of my top mentors and role models in the industry and I cherish her dearly. When I sit on my bed on a warm and toasty night watching YouTube videos and thinking of nails, I think of food, but then I think of those fabulous nails Darcy does! And the education she pours into this wonderful industry!
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Darcy, so tune in below to see why she is so amazing and why you too need a little bit of Darcy in your life!
Oh wonderful and all seeing Darcy, can you tell me a little about how you got started in the nail industry?
Darcy: I was interested in the beauty industry when I was in high school, but was strongly encouraged to “stay on the college path” and so I followed the advice of those who I thought maybe knew best. As it turned out, it was not the path meant for me, but their advice was valuable and I appreciate that the experiences helped me in becoming the person that I am today. I spent a few years as a stay-at-home-mom and loved it, but I was in search of a way to be able to be creative and have more conversation time with other adults, while still putting my children and family first. Then I remembered…there was a time when I wanted to explore my options in the beauty industry, so I started looking into what was available in my area. I did know that I wanted to focus on nails and there really was only one option for a Nails only training program at that time, so I signed up and patiently waited for there to be enough students interested in the course for it to begin.
After completing my program in 2000 and getting licensed, I started out as the only nail tech, booth renting in a hair salon. While I enjoyed the ladies that I worked with, I had no one to learn from in that setting. Needless to say, it was a very trying and stressful time. I quickly realized that the course that I had taken taught me the basics of services and was much more focused on making sure that I knew what I needed to know, to pass my state boards. It did not prepare me for the real world of in-salon work. I needed to find help! Thank goodness I found Deb Doerhlamm and her BeautyTech networking forums! That led me to meet so many of the nail friends that I still have today and provided a great opportunity to ask questions and find networking opportunities to meet up with other nail techs in person. (Remember the good-old-days, when we could get together In Person?)
Oh yes! I miss being in person so much, just the touch of a hug brings me joy! When and how did you become the prestigious Dean of Light Elegance University?
Darcy: I had already been using some LE products and Jim had “liked” my work on FaceBook, but we had not met. Thanks to networking and building relationships in our industry, a dear friend, Tammy Ferrera introduced Jim and I at one of her HRTE (High Road to Education) networking and education events. I was fortunate to begin educating with Light Elegance in 2010. With the support of our fabulous LE Family & Team, I grew into the role of LEU Dean of Students in 2015. Believe me when I say I could not have done it without the love, support and patience of, what then, was our little LE Family. They not only helped me to become fully educated on nail products and chemistry, but they very gently pulled me out of my shell and helped to build my confidence and find my voice. I truly would not be where I am today with out the love and support of Lezlie, Jim, Pina, Jayne and Mylyn.
Oh wow! What a wonderful path you took to get to where you are! I am so happy you have so many supporters behind you to cheer you on and watch you be great, a team is the foundation to a great career and you have definitely found your foundation! So I am very curious about what you do daily in fabulous Redmond, Oregon. To be in the shoes of Dean Darcy, what would an average day look like for you?
Darcy: Well, since I moved out to Redmond, Oregon in August 2019, it definitely looks different from what it did when I was running and working in my salon in upstate NY full time.Now, I arrive at the office around 7:30am, to spend a little time chatting with the people of LE over coffee, then head to my office by 8am. Most days, I start with checking emails, which I may not get all the way through before meetings to go over any plans, projects and to-do lists that we have, or need to add to the schedule.
My days can easily consist of testing new products, new batches of existing products, testing newly developed products and discussing any findings with the team of Chemists in the lab. Some days I am working on writing new class plans, outlines and developing our education program further. I feel like I am even getting pretty darn good at powerpoint! (That makes me laugh a bit!) I might also be creating content for social media, shooting video tutorials or tips and tricks videos, doing nails on some of the HQ team, creating design tips for an upcoming photoshoot or working with some of our Educators and Ambassadors with projects we have them involved in.
I can also be found holding education meetings online with international distributors and their teams of educators, holding Skype sessions with our LEU participants, working to provide feedback on LEU assignments and Final Exams, helping to select new colors and glitters for upcoming seasons…and the list goes on and on.
No two days are the same and I do love the variety of things that I get to do!
That is so fantastic! Most of us in the world dream to have a career that we love so much it doesn’t even feel like work, I’m so happy yours is so exciting! You really are a piece of a puzzle to the big picture to what we see of Light Elegance. Gosh, thank you so much! Well what would say is the highlight of your position currently?
Darcy: My absolute favorite thing about what I get to do is that I can help other nail professionals grow their skills, confidence and opportunities. I remember feeling alone in the salon, with no support in growing my nail skills. It brings me so much joy to help others elevate their knowledge and their skills, helping them to grow their role as a nail professional, build their business and confidence in all that they do. Now that I am here at HQ, we have spent a lot of time working hard to grow our education program. It excites me to also be growing our LE Team of nail professionals, to include new LE Media Team, Brand Ambassadors and Educators, both in the US and around the world!
Ugh tear! It just gets me choked up to hear what makes you so happy! I so feel the same, we’re like distant twins! Do you love sushi too? It’s ok, I’ll settle for shrimp on a skewer if you don’t! Well how important is “continuing” education to you?
Darcy: This is an easy one…Continuing Education is Everything! In the beauty industry, everything is always changing and if we do not evolve with it, we can become stagnant and even lose our passion for our work. Taking classes, attending trade shows and always staying on top of the latest and greatest colors, trending nail shapes and all the new design techniques is critical to success. It keeps us excited and energized about our work and that passion and happiness is reflected in all that we do and projects to those around us. I know that when I returned from taking a class or working an event, my family and my clients were excited to hear about the adventures, see photos and if I was the model for a class, they were very excited to see any work that had been done on my nails. That kept me excited about all that I had learned too.
Oh yes! I love continuing education, it’s just something about wanting to learn something new, or challenge myself really gets me going! I tell everyone, always continue to learn! If you could change something currently ongoing in our industry, what would it be and why?
Darcy: This is such an important topic! The very first thing that I would like to see changed would be related to finding a way to make sure that every nail product available, was in fact safe to use on the nails.
I consider myself to be an intelligent nail professional, who has always operated my business in a safe manner, not only for myself and my employees, but also in consideration of our clients. I always went above and beyond state regulations to keep my tools and workspace sanitized, disinfected, even sterilized my tools, used new files for each client, had all of the SDS sheets for products that I used, asked all of the important questions and knew when to refer clients to their Dr. My list to operate in a safe & effective manner could go on and on.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived here at HQ and after talking with Jim, only then did I learn that SDS sheets do not always reflect what chemicals may actually be in the nail product that it is written up to represent. I was blown away! We, as nail professionals, trust that the products that we can purchase, are made in a safe and responsible manner and are safe to use on ourselves and clients. Sadly, this is not always the case and it can be very difficult for the nail professional to be completely aware of what exactly they are using.
Many “manufacturers” are actually branding companies and purchase products from the true manufacturer. Most of the manufacturing facilities are honest but a few are not. It is not the job of the branding company to verify what they are told by their manufacturer because they are not equipped to be able to do so. As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities do not properly disclose the true ingredients – even the ingredients that could be harmful.
Can I get an amen on that please!? Knowledge is power and the key to unlocking many truths! As head of education at Light Elegance, why would you say it’s important, about “What’s Inside Matters”?
Darcy: It is so important for our own and our client’s safety, to know “What’s Inside” our products. When sensitivities or allergic reactions to nail products occur, it can make it difficult and sometimes impossible, for the nail professional to continue to work with nail products, potentially ending their career. If an allergic reaction happens with a client, they are much less likely to return for any salon services.
We need to be fully aware of what is in our products, both to protect ourselves so we can have longevity in our careers and to protect our clients so they are confident that the products we use and the services that we provide, are safe for them as well.
This is why it is so important to know and have a relationship with your nail product manufacturer. They should be able to answer your questions throughly, if they can’t, reach out to us, we can help without judgement.
You are absolutely right, I am so thankful we have this very special relationship! Next up, mimosas on the beach as we discuss why jimmygel is so amazing! I’m kidding, I’m more of a Lexy line myself. But speaking of education and always progressively looking onward, is there anything in particular that you look forward to in 2021?
Darcy: Getting back out to see all of my nail friends, meet new people and share with people in person will be great! In addition to that, we have already chosen so many fabulous new products, colors & glitters to add to the LE Line up and we will be launching some new LEU Classes too! I am just bursting at the seams and cannot wait to share all of the fabulous new things coming your way!
Oh I love a good secret, I hope it’s the new magical glow gel I’ve been asking for that since Brand Ambassador Darlene won’t give it to me! Fingers crossed! You have done so much for the nail industry, and are treasured highly, first by me, and then the rest of the world, what would you say is your next goal?
Darcy: Wow that is wonderful to hear, thank you! I’m blushing.It’s funny, twelve or so years ago, I saw a video with Lezlie explaining techniques, while Liz (an LE Educator) did demo’s. I remembered thinking “That would be a cool job!” but only imagined reaching this goal, not knowing if it was truly possible…Who knew where that little dream would lead?
I’ve been so busy living this dream, I have not stopped to look to the future and what I want to achieve next. We do have some amazing ideas circulating around here and they are ever evolving in my mind, but it might be time for me to sit down, write things out and focus on the next goals. I just cannot wait to see where all of these dreams take us next!
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to participate in this interview, you are an amazing nail technician, a fabulous educator, a monumental mentor for so many (still me) what would be a piece of advice you would like to give the past, current, and future generations of nail technicians?
Darcy: Never Stop Learning! Networking with other professionals and continuing your education will keep you excited about your career, keep your clients excited about seeing what you will do with their nails next and allows you to raise your prices to always charge what your work is worth. It could also potentially open doors to opportunities that you did not know, or even dream existed!
It has been an absolute dream to spend this time with you. I am so glad you took the time out of your very fun, exciting and busy schedule to partake in my interview. I am so glad that you have so much experience and insight, a true treasure indeed! Everyone, if you would like, you can hear more about Darcy and all of her fabulous adventures on her social media channels. Thank you all for reading and until our next time together, I’ll see you soon southern sweets!