As societies grow and demographics change, the demand for pedicure services has grown and changed along with it. Nowadays there is a much greater need for pedicures with advanced training as the market continues to grow. We spoke with Suzanne Foote, Executive Director of the International Pedicure Association, to get her take on the foot care industry of today.
Her background in pedicures began when she was a foot care nurse. She became interested in the beauty industry when she started teaching advanced pedicures for the North American School of Podology in 2003.
“I was a nurse first and was teaching nursing when I recognized the need for foot care and got into that,” Foote said.
The International Pedicure Association connects pedicure specialists globally. While the definition of pedicures is the same across countries, in Canada, estheticians and skin care professionals do pedicures, whereas in the U.S. it’s cosmetologists and nail technicians. In Europe, pedicures are their own entity – not paired with manicures or any other beauty service.
“Manicures and pedicures have become a lifestyle,” Foote said. “It’s not something that’s just a special occasion anymore. Very few people get to age 20 or 25 who have not had a manicure and pedicure, but many have not had a facial.”
Industry studies have shown that more teenagers and 20-something’s are enjoying the benefits of advanced foot care like pedicures, and they have more disposable income available to spend on themselves. This, paired with the increased emphasis on looks these days, is yielding more demand for high quality, professional pedicures than previously. Whether it’s young professionals cleaning up to look great for the office, the healthy elderly keeping themselves in top condition, or men embracing new grooming services, the foot care industry is growing at unprecedented levels.
What are people looking for in a pedicurist, and what does it take to become a successful foot care professional?
“The first thing you have to have is a passion for what you’re doing,” Foote advised. “This is a service industry, and there’s a lot of competition out there. You need to be observant, and pay attention to what you see, looking for problems or changes in the client’s skin or nails. You need to be a good listener and really hear what your clients are saying. You need to be detail-oriented and have manual dexterity.”
Foote also added that there are many fungi and bacterial infections to keep an eye out for when working with clients on a regular basis. It goes beyond being immaculate in safety, sanitation and infection control procedures. Pedicurists are in a unique position to recognize problems and help guide clients to both prevent and manage these challenges. (re terminology – Doctors ‘treat’ and we ‘manage – they get upset if we use the word treat)
If you would like to further your career in the pedicuring, skin care or nail care industry, the International Pedicure Association is the only professional association dedicated specifically to pedicures. Benefits of membership include having the credibility of a membership certificate in a reputable professional association to show clients, window decals for cars or salon windows, and an annual seal. Members also gain access to a professional advisory board, and a 10% discount off of a variety of pedicure products and equipment for your business. Liability insurance is also available at a discount due to recognition of the IPA’s emphasis on proper sanitation.
There are varying membership levels for students, professionals, salons and schools.
The IPA also advocates, educates and supports in the pedicure industry. Much of the association’s focus is on continuing education, and they provide free webinars every month on a variety of educational topics, including but not limited to foot and nail care, professional best practices, branding, professional insurance, serving varieties of clientele like men or the elderly, diligence in identifying skin and nail problems of the feet, and more.
“One of the biggest challenges is keeping up to date in the industry,” Foote said. “Things change and it’s hard for people to stay on top of it, but it’s important. Associations such as IPA can do that for members. We’re constantly looking into what’s new, and providing education on that.”