Lookers Salon & Spa Nail Tech Tracy Belardo is known for her feisty personality, great laugh and talent for nail art. Anyone who has met Belardo knows she lives her life in color - a lot of times, that color is by OPI.
Born in Chicago and raised in Humboldt, a job with the school system brought Belardo to Wilson County.
"I had a friend move to Wilson County after college. She worked for MAP Academy and when a position opened up, she made me send her my resume," she explained. "I interviewed a week later and was hired on the spot. I packed up my car and moved here on New Years Day 2001. God put me exactly where he wanted me."
Belardo worked as an Educational Assistant, first with MAP, and then as an ISS (In School Suspension) teacher with Lebanon Special School District.
A few years ago, Belardo decided to make another move - a career change.
Since she was a child, Belardo has always enjoyed doing nails. She said it was a skill originally taught to her by her grandmother.
"She was very happy and proud of me before she passed away. I think of her beautiful hands often," she said.
The best part of her job as a Nail Tech is the clients. "They choose to spend their time and money with me. They choose to trust me with their hands and feet and with their secrets and what is in their hearts and minds," Belardo said. "When their eyes light up and they are excited about their hands or when they fall asleep during a pedicure, my heart smiles. The line between client and friend is so blurry I can barely see it anymore."
Belardo excels at creating nail art. Many clients will come with ideas from Pinterest - and other times she just "wings it."
"I hate to copy someone else's work, so I will try to change it up and make it my own," she said. "Even if I'm not doing art, I still have a blast. I love that my ladies' nails are natural and they're pretty proud of that too."
In her spare time, Belardo knits and crochets. She loves watching "The Walking Dead" television series. She is a local Scentsy consultant, too.
She has six nieces, one nephew and a great-niece.
Belardo named her grandmother, Maria, as one of the women she most admires.
Maria came from Puerto Rico to the United States with her husband and two small children not knowing how to speak English.
"She raised her babies and her grand-babies and then had a huge hand in raising her great grand-babies. Her capacity for love and compassion were infinite. She was a tiny little lady who took care of everyone, and we all loved her for it," Belardo said. "I miss her every single day."
Another inspirational lady and fellow Woman of Wilson Angelic Gardner came to mind. Gardner owns Lookers Salon, where Belardo works.
"Angelic a wonderful friend, business woman, mother, boss and cosmetologist," Belardo said. "She has the best sense of humor and can find the good in most everyone and every situation. She is my biggest fan and supporter. She makes me laugh till my stomach hurts, and I just love her."
Finally, Belardo named her mother as a woman she admires, calling her a fighter.
"I admire her because she laughs when crying would be easier. Her sense of balance is practically non-existent and she, literally, falls often - but she always gets up," she said. "She loves us fiercely."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.