Well, after working on the NAILS staff for a few months it was time for me to get my first nail service. Executive editor Hannah Lee helped me pick out a boutique salon in Venice Beach and went along to show me the ropes. Having never had a nail service before, I decided to go with the basic manicure, figuring it would be an easy introduction into the world of salon services.
Peponi Nail and Skin Care Lounge is a little bungalow-style salon with a garden that leads you to the front door. Located on a busy road with plenty of strip malls, Peponi is a unique escape from the outside world. The dense garden absorbs much of the noise from nearby Lincoln Boulevard. Once inside, the salon immediately set a soothing and relaxing tone with clean hardwood floors and ceilings and a small running-water statue in the corner. We were served cool glasses of water and led to a semi-private back room.
Having never had a nail service before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I can’t remember anyone else cutting my nails before, so I was kind of nervous when my nail tech Ashanti Gordon first picked up my finger to make a snip. But after a couple of quick and painless moves, I knew that my hands were in good hands.
Ashanti was hired by owner Steve Ellis right out of cosmetology school. The salon, which has been open for a little over a year, is co-owned by Steve and his wife Scean.
The salon has around 13 independent contractors, and they keep themselves busy with a menu that includes basic and enhanced manicures and pedicures, plus an assortment of facial, waxing, and massage services. They also hold special events and allow clients to reserve the entire spa for private parties.
Peponi is comfortable and homey; Scean said she wanted it to feel like the clients were just hanging out at a friend’s house. Peponi even has a small kitchen that is a nice gathering place for customers and technicians to chat.
As I took it all in, Ashanti expertly tended to my nails. I was surprised by how smooth the crystal file felt to my nail. Ashanti began working on my cuticles – a term I only recently learned the definition of – and proudly showed me just how much had been resting on my nail beds for all these years.
I looked over at Hannah getting a pedicure and was trying to make some mental notes for this piece when Ashanti started the service-capping forearm massage. All brain arms, and I would say the manicure was worth it just for the massage. So my first nail service at Peponi (which means “paradise” in Swahili) was an altogether amazing experience. I think next time I’ll even be ready for a pedicure.