As a builder by day and nail technician by night, Andrew Doublett is a man of many skills. AASMA DAY talks to him and beautician wife Julie about how he trained in nails as a labour of love to help her out and spend more time with her
You’ve got to hand it to Andrew Doublett – by day he’s hard at work with a hammer and nails and by night he’s working on nails of a completely different kind.
Swapping his cement and trowel for a nail file, Andrew painstakingly gives women glamorous new nails in an array of colours... all while still wearing his builder’s overalls.
Both jobs are a labour of love for perfectionist Andrew – and it was love that first inspired him to try his hand at acrylic nails.
Andrew first began working at wife Julie’s salon Nature’s Way on Tulketh Brow, Ashton, Preston, to help her out when she was stuck.
He also admits he was fed up of never seeing Julie when she worked long nights at the salon carrying out beauty treatments, and he thought by working alongside her, at least he’d get to see her.
To Julie’s delight, Andrew was a real natural at doing nails and proved a real hit with the clients, who were impressed by his faultless workmanship.
In fact, when Andrew began experiencing difficulties in juggling his building work and doing nails and told clients he may have to give up the nails as he was struggling to get there in time, they simply told him to turn up in his building gear saying: “We don’t care what you’re wearing – just do our nails!”
Andrew, 48, who lives with wife Julie in Penwortham, near Preston, says: “I never thought of myself as a trailblazer and just stumbled into doing nails.
“A few women are taken aback and are a bit sceptical when they see me for the first time.
“But I soon win them round.
“I had a bit of banter from mates and builder colleagues when I first started doing the nails because of the novelty factor.
“However, most people don’t bat an eyelid.”
Wife Julie, 54, first set up Nature’s Way more than 20 years ago, and she now specialises in permanent make-up and dealing with skin blemishes such as thread veins.
The couple, who have been married for 19 years, first met 21 years ago when Julie was working as a beautician but was also working as a bank nurse at psychiatric units while she built her beauty business up and had enough clients.
Julie recalls: “I was persuaded into going to a pool tournament at a Preston pub by some of the nurses I was working with at the Avondale Unit.
“Andrew was there with his next door neighbour and we started chatting.
“I had some cupboards that were hanging off the hinges, so when Andrew told me he was into building, I asked him if he’d fix them for me in return for a Sunday roast.
“That was the start of it all and the rest is history.”
Andrew spent many years working for mapping agency Ordnance Survey, but did building work as well during evenings and weekends.
Andrew explains: “When I left home, I went to work for Ordnance Survey and in 1986, I bought a house in Preston.
“However, the mortgage rates then went rocketing up and I couldn’t afford it, so I had to get another job labouring at nights and that’s how the building work began.
“But I always had an interest in the building side of things.”
When the couple bought the premises for Nature’s Way, it was a wool shop with a house at the back, so Andrew got to work renovating it into the salon it now is.
Ruefully, Andrew adds: “Everything I have done has been borne out of necessity and being skint.
“I worked on this place as we didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it.”
Andrew first began doing nails when Julie experienced problems with losing nail technician staff.
Julie says: “In this industry, you get a lot of people who use your premises to build up their own client base and then move on, often taking your clients with them.
“It got to the stage where I was getting a bit fed up of this.
“I actually trained as a nail technician and a hairdresser myself, but I could not continue to do it as I was allergic to the chemicals in the products and got contact dermatitis.
“Andrew doing nails all started when a nail technician left and went mobile, taking some of our clients with her.
“I was so fed up, I asked Andrew to take the nail stations out of the salon.”
The couple then went to a national beauty exhibition and Andrew noticed a lot of the nail exhibitors were men and said to Julie: “How hard can it be?”
Julie retorted: “If you’re so clever, why don’t you do it?”
Andrew says: “I am always up for a challenge, so I took her on.”
Julie did not want to train Andrew herself, so arranged for a woman from a company called Beautiful Nails to come and train Andrew in doing acrylic nails.
He later went away on a course to learn how to do gel nails.
Julie remembers: “Andrew took to doing nails like a duck to water.
“I have had a lot of nail technicians, but I have never seen anyone adapt to something so quickly.
“With Andrew being male, he is more interested in the chemical reaction and the technical side of things.
“He actually understands what is happening during the process whereas some nail technicians aren’t interested in that side of things – only the finished result.
“Andrew did a wonderful job of doing nails right from the start. It was as if he had been doing it for years.
“Andrew’s attention to detail and being a perfectionist meant he did a great job, and this made him very popular with the customers.
“Male or female, as a nail technician, you have to have patience, perseverance and attention to detail.
“It can take some nail technicians years to perfect their art.
“However, Andrew was a natural.”
Andrew, who left Ordnance Survey and became a full-time builder around eight years ago, and runs Andrew Doublett Property Development Ltd (ADPD), explains: “I like taking something that doesn’t look very nice and making it look all shiny and new.
“It is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
“It is also about making people happy and that gives you a great deal of satisfaction.
“Some people come in with short, horrible nails and once you have finished, you can send them out feeling like a million dollars.”
At first glance, being a builder and being a nail technician may seem like they are worlds apart, but Andrew says there are lots of similarities.
Andrew says: “In the same way you can make a tired room look completely different and have the finished result looking like a showroom, you can do the same with someone’s nails.
“I also like the fact that everyone is individual and you cater to their tastes and can also be creative.
“Being a builder and doing nails are both about attention to detail.
“I like them both but in different ways.”
Andrew was doing building work full-time during the week as well as working three evenings and Saturdays doing nails at the salon.
Julie says: “We could had Andrew working full-time in the salon and he would have been as busy as anything.
“But Andrew likes the variety and mixing the nails with the building work.”
Andrew explains: “Even with my building work, I like the variety, which is why we do such a diverse range of things.
“I do plastering, landscape gardening, paving, brickwork, joinery and plumbing.
“I’m not capable of sitting still. I like physical work and doing things with my hands.”
When the demands of Andrew’s building work became too great, he considered packing in doing the nails as he was struggling to get to the salon in time.
Andrew says: “It was getting difficult after a day’s work as a builder to get to the salon in time to start doing nails.
“The pressure of work on the building side of things was getting too much, so I thought I should give the nails up.
“But when I voiced this to my clients, they didn’t like it.
“One client even threatened me with physical violence when I told her I was thinking of packing in!
“They told me they didn’t mind if I didn’t get a chance to go home first to get changed and said: “Just come in your building gear.’
“So that’s exactly what I do. It was a case of have your nails done with me dressed like this or not at all.
“I now always do nails in my building gear and my clients are not bothered in the slightest.
“My hands are always clean and I always wear gloves.”
Andrew enjoys chatting to clients and the customer satisfaction side of things when he does nails. Having a male perspective means small talk and chitchat is also a lot more varied.
Julie says: “Andrew’s interest in building and gardening means a lot of clients talk to him about this.
“Andrew also loves cooking and is into cars, so is very versatile when it comes to conversation.
“It is not just restricted to: ‘Where are you going on your holiday?’”
Andrew adds: “I don’t watch any soaps so I can’t talk to clients about them!
“I have got a lot of building work out of doing nails and have done some work for most of my nail clients.”
Andrew enjoys spoiling clients by taking the time to make them feel pampered and do a perfect job.
He admits one of the things he has realised is how difficult it is to say no.
He says: “It is difficult to turn people down.
“When they tell you they are going on holiday or have a special occasion and ask if you can squeeze them in, you end up trying to do your best to make it possible, especially when they are a regular.”
Julie says: “When I used to work late nights, Andrew used to complain he hardly saw me. So he thought by working some evenings in the salon, at least he could be with me.
“It is nice that he enjoys my company and being with me.
“However, when Andrew works here, he is in about five hours but we hardly speak to each other or have contact with each other, as it is all about the clients.
“Then when we get home, we are usually too tired to talk to each other!”
Andrew jokes: “The secret to a long and happy marriage is not talking to each other!”
On a serious note, Julie says: “If I had an award for hard work, dedication, professionalism and attention to detail, I would give it to Andrew.
“I’m not saying that because he’s my husband, but because I genuinely mean it.
“For most of his working life, Andrew has worked 80 hours a week and he always gives everything his all.
“We love working together and it has been a positive thing and I wouldn’t change anything.
“We enjoy bantering with the clients as a married couple, and they love it too.
“Being in the beauty business is not easy nowadays as there is so much competition.
“But we offer something a bit different with having Andrew!”