Vanity Projects Institute Nail Art

Vanity Projects is launching an online training program geared toward nail artists looking to hone their skills.

In April, the salon chain will open enrollment for the Vanity Projects Institute, taught by master nail artist Kanae Yagi, who holds a certification from the Japanese Nailist Association. The online program bows with two course offerings meant to teach students the intricacies of working with Japanese potted gel — a go-to for nail artists as it is typically more durable (and less chip-able) than regular nail polish.

Both course offerings take seven days to complete and are offered via Canvas in 33 languages. Tuition for the beginner level starts at $380, and no prior experience is required. Intermediate level requires prior experience and is priced at $500. Students are encouraged to purchase a separate kit containing tools for either course. A nail technician’s license is not required for either.

Kanae Yagi

Kanae Yagi, master nail artist.  Courtesy of Vanity Projects

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“Throughout the United States and internationally, nail techs usually make $20,000 or $30,000 a year,” said Rita Pinto, a former art curator who founded Vanity Projects as a pop-up in 2008. “What we’ve done in the last 10 years is we’ve professionalized the nail salon business. My artists are making $100,000 a year. I’m also very generous, but I feel strongly that you have to pay talent. When they’re paid, they produce better for you.”

Pinto said her nail artists typically make 40 percent to 45 percent gross commission. She also pays medical benefits, she said.

Vanity Projects has locations in Miami’s Design District and in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City’s Manhattan. After closing both salons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pinto reopened Miami — “we’re socially distant” — and has reopened New York City at half capacity.

“Even at 50 percent, it’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s this, people are gone,” Pinto said of the New York location. “People don’t want to go anywhere after six o’clock at night anymore.

“The salon in New York has been really brutal,” she continued. “I think I lost about $350,000 last year.”

WWD previously reported on how the pandemic has left salon workers and independent nail technicians jobless. With salons reopening at limited capacity, and technicians once again taking clients, some customers are still hesitant to meet in person, deeming nail art nonessential.

Rita Pinto

Rita Pinto, Vanity Projects’ founder.  Courtesy of Vanity Projects

Vanity Projects Institute, Pinto said, is geared toward both professional nail artists and hobbyists alike.

“Right now with COVID-19, people are deciding to change their career path, they’re deciding to go with something that makes them feel like they’re inspired again,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of messaging around ‘professionalizing your creativity’ or ‘making what you are passionate about your life.'”

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