The team went through four photo shoots with four different models before they found the three looks they chose as their winning NAHA entry. “In this category, you’re not allowed to edit the nails in your image, and you have to send them the original image,” she says.

In her acceptance speech, Dingman thanked Young Nails for their encouragement over the years. Both Rochelle and Phoebe started taking Young Nails classes right after cosmetology school, becoming certified in both gel and acrylic. “Young Nails is where we got our start,” she says. “Greg [Salo] has been our biggest supporter. We even have clients who drive from San Francisco to San Jose because we use Young Nails products.”

She also acknowledged other mentors. “Lisa Comfort was the first to inspire me to start competing,” she says. “It was a good experience, but I knew I had to keep working at it and taking more classes.” She has also worked with Pattie Yankee during Fashion Week, where she learned how to handle nails during photo shoots. “When you’re creating three different looks in one day and you have to put the nails on and take them off, it can cause a lot of wear and tear on the natural nail. You have to find ways to make it look like a sculpted nail and not a press-on,” she says.


She made use of this skill in preparing her NAHA entry. “The nails were pre-sculpted over 20 nail tips, which you have to do when you can’t size your model. They were then blended to make them look sculpted on the model.

As she absorbs the shock of winning, Dingman keeps coming back to the need for continuing nail education. “Without it, what do you have?” she asks. “We always go to Young Nails seminars and keep up with new trends. We also mentor some nail students. Anything that I’m taught, I try to give back as well.”

NAHA 2017, which includes the entire awards ceremony and interviews from the pre-show Red Carpet Reception, is available to stream on-demand at