Old-fashioned virtues---patience, perseverance, and hardwork---pay off for Lynne Pereux, proprietor of The Nail Fetish salon.
Keeping a hope chest is a quaint, rather old-fashioned practice, but not the way Lynne Pereux did it. According to tradition, a girl sets aside precious items such as clothes, linens, and household goods in anticipation of the big event---her marriage. When Pereux began to set aside treasured items in her guest bedroom it was with a different goal in mind. She saved nail files, fabric scraps, even furniture for her big day---the day she would open her own nail salon.
Today Pereux is the proud owner of The Nail Fetish, a Victorian-style nail salon located in Nashua, N.H. With six employees and a client list she estimates between 1,200 and 1,500, there’s no doubt Pereux’s dream has become very real.
Pereux’s fetish for nails began young. As early as she can remember, she was fascinated by beautiful nails. When, at age 16, her sister-in-law taught her how to do nails, she was thrilled. She even started an apprenticeship at a local salon. It would be years, however, before her nail career would begin in earnest.
Instead Pereux got married, had a baby, and moved from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Nashua. “When we arrived in New Hampshire, no one here knew what sculptured nails were so i didn’t keep up my own nails or pursue a career in nails,” she ex[plains.
Years later, Pereux began to miss her nails and sought out a local beauty supply store bto get the materials she needed to do her own nails. “Before I knew it, I was doing all my friends’ nails too,” she says. A short time later, Pereux decided to seriously pursue a career in nails.
Pereux went to school, got her license, and landed a job as a nail technician. While Pereux worked diligently to build a clientele, she also tried to learn as much as she could about opening her own salon. “I studied, read, researched, and planned,” she says.
All the while she saved her money and began to accumulate odds and ends for her own salon in her guest room closet. “I bought things for the shop constantly---furniture, decorations, nail files, lamps, chairs, towels---you name it.” Pereux began planning the decor, noting what color schemes and styles she liked, and clipping photographs of interior designs that suited her taste. Steadily, she had acquired the knowledge , the money, and the equipment to open a salon of her own.
Pereux cites the support of her husband Bob as an essential ingredient to realizing her dream. “The more I talked about the business, the more it became our dream. My husband and I would have lunch together on Mondays, my day off, and talk over when we were going to do it and where. And then we found it.”
What they found was a small, three-room shop just outside down town Nashua, a perfect spot to open a salon. The couple worked for two months to ready the shop. They did their own painting , wall papering , and carpentry. Pereux wanted the furnishings to be pretty and pink. “The decorating was easy,” she says. “It’s very similar to my house.”
Just before it was time to open, Pereux’s husband lost his job. “Boy, were we scared!” she says. “But the lease was signed and we were committed.” The Nail Fetish opened on schedule in September 1991.
As you would expect, the new salon required Pereux to work long hours doing nails and supervising her one part-time employee. In the meantime, Bob took care of the home front---cooking, cleaning, and caring for their son, Bobbie, who was 11 at the time. “We both did our share so that we could keep the house and the business running smoothly. What a role reversal!” says Pereux.
THE BIG EXPANSION
Two years and countless clients later, it was time to move to a bigger shop. The search for the perfect location took eight months, but Pereux was rewarded for the extra effort. “The location was great. It was only four blocks away from the first location, it had a lot of street traffic, and it was two and half times larger than our original location.”
The Nail Fetish currently occupies the second floor of what was, 100 years ago, a single family home. Now the traditional-style structure houses only businesses. The space consists of a largewaiting room with a fireplace, a pedicure room, and a large hallway that serves as a reception and retail area. There are also two nail rooms that are connected. “In its day I imagine the rooms were the kitchen and dining area of an apartment or house,” says Pereux.
Pereux recalls the day her husband took her to look over the space. “The owner wasn’t ready to lease the space because it needed renovations badly and it would be months before he completed them,” she says. “The place had been destroyed by previous tenants. It was damaged, filthy, and full of trash. The hardwood floors were a mess, the carpets beyond cleaning, and all the plumbing fixtures needed to be replaced.
“I thought to myself ‘I must be crazy,”’ she continues, “but when I saw the fireplace and the window seats I knew we could make it work.” They struck up a deal with the building owner and once again undertook the renovations themselves.
It took Bob three months of 12-to 18-hour days to whip the place into shape. The couple enlisted the aid of a friend to help with the pink and white tile floor and a few other tasks they couldn’t manage on their own. “While Bob renovated, I did nails and ran the salon all day, then sewed the draperies and made decorations at night. All my craft skills have come in handy in decorating the shop,” says Pereux.
Pereux opted to paint stencilled designs on the walls rather than go the more traditional wallpaper route. Stencils are more feminine, she believes, besides being less expensive. She painted a Victorian scalloped shell pattern in the waiting room and used wisteria and rose stencils to decorate the walls of the other rooms.
The larger, newly renovated salon opened in October 1993. Still, the decor is never quite done. “We’re always adding little touches here and there---painting, stenciling , adding plants, and decorations. We try to keep everything fresh and pretty,” says Pereux.
Pereux attributes the success of her salon to the level of quality work she and her staff provide. The salon’s welcoming atmosphere also adds to its popularity says Pereux, “It’s just so funny to see women come in here. They say ‘Oh, this place is so pretty I just want to stay here.’ Before I know it I’ve got four or five customers introducing themselves to one another. Lots of new friendships have been made in our waiting room.” One group of friends has a pedicure party at the salon once a month, Pereux says. They bring in a cooler filled with champagne and crackers and cheese.
The Nail Fetish offers a complete range of manicure services. Pereux is considering adding facials and massage therapy to the service menu. Eventually she’d like to occupy the whole building. “I’d like to have a tea room because so many of my clients like to hang around and spend time with their friends. I think a Victorian tea room would make a terrific gathering place,” says Pereux.