First Look

Gelish U.S. Dean of Education MaeLing Parrish utilized her background in art to establish herself as one of the top nail educators in the U.S. Find out what makes her tick in the one-on-one interview below.

BY AMY MACGREGOR     PHOTO BY SCOTT STACER

What is your favorite nail art to do and why?
My favorite will always be 3-D acrylic flowers. I love creating super?thin multi-layered flowers.

Tell us about your first educator training where you were the trainee:
To preface this story, a "jelly-bean" nail looks like a jelly bean cut in half length-wise and stuck on top of the nail. It's pretty much a wide, fat, humped nail.

When I attended my first educator training, I didn't know what to expect because I was only familiar with "salon-style" sculptured nails and not "professional-style" sculptured nails. I was asked to apply a pink-and-white sculptured acrylic on our practice partner, which I thought I did a pretty darn good job on. Gari-Dawn Tingler, who was the dean of education at the time, took one look at it and sarcastically said, "Nice jelly bean," and walked away. As my eyes filled with tears, my partner said to me, "Don't cry!" I thought to myself: "Really? Like telling me not to cry is going to stop the tears from coming!" Gari-Dawn and the director of education for the distributor looked over and saw my distress. The director explained to Gari-Dawn that I had never seen or performed this style of nail before. She walked back over to me, looks at my nail again and said, "Oh... that looked pretty good." Ever since then, we always have a good laugh when that story gets brought up!

What is your favorite Gelish color and/or collection?
My favorite is the Gelish Aurora Collection. I have a fetish with my toes and I like to create a teal-mermaid design, which I always layer with one of the colors from the Gelish Aurora collection.

How is your job fulfilling?
My job as a nail tech is very fulfilling because it led me to be an educator. I never knew that I wanted to be an educator for a nail company - I actually fell into it by accident. It lets me help other technicians hone their skills and learn new techniques. I love that one moment when a student gets it and the light bulb goes off in her head.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I love Hello Kitty! I just saw an ad in a nail magazine and the whole nail salon is decked out in Hello Kitty. I'm also a foodie. I love to hang out with my girlfriends over a good dinner and have a couple of cocktails. My favorite color is white. It's just clean - a clean slate... you can do anything with white. And I love movies - I can see the same movie five times in a row. I love to throw out movie lines all day long and I make my friends guess the movie lines. My favorite movie is "Pride and Prejudice" - the version with Keira Knightley. I love Mr. Darcy!

Who's the most inspirational person you've met and what makes him/her inspiring?
The most inspirational person I've ever met in the industry is Tom Holcomb, who passed away recently. He was one of those people who could help anyone in the room. It didn't matter if you were a beginner nail tech or advanced nail tech - he was just uplifting. His ideas... I don't know where they came from. He would think of things that nobody has ever thought of. He really changed how people think about nail art. Up until Tom Holcomb, there really wasn't nail art like he did - the 3-D nail art that included crazy designs that rose four inches above the nails. He replicated the New York skyline on a set of nails and it was so exact; with windows and everything. Besides that, he was an all-around great person to be around. There was no "Debbie downer" with Tom; everything was always happy and fun. He will be greatly missed.