'What really matters is experience'
Delivering a good manicure takes months of training and even more practise. Andy Chow Chi-shuen underwent a year of classes and practical experience before he became a fully-fledged manicurist.
By enrolling in three separate programmes over a six month period, Mr Chow learnt everything about the world of nails from the history of the profession to nail filing, polishing and buffing before moving on to more advanced skills such as French manicure, acrylic and gel nails, and nail art.
'I felt a bit embarrassed about attending the first manicure and pedicure course so I got my girlfriend to come along too. After acquiring the foundational skills, we would all take turns to either practise on each other - there were about 12 students in total - or use dummy hands. By the time I finished the basic course, I was comfortable enough to go on to the advanced one on my own. Even though I was the only male in the class, it was fine. In fact, the women welcomed someone different in the class.'
After the classroom training, Mr Chow spent another six months gaining work experience through assisting the manicurist he had hired in his own shop and giving manicures to friends.
Practical experience in the profession was of paramount importance, he said. 'A lot of people may have certificates showing they have completed manicure programmes, but you can only begin to understand what you are doing when you start learning on the job. To me, what really matters is experience.'