Managing editor Sree Roy visits Talons Nail Evolution in Victoria, B.C., Canada.
I get a pedicure with Danielle Forward, while Michelle gets one with Haydynn Barteaux (Michelle and Chris’s daughter), and Chris gets one with Rachelle Anderson.
Victoria, B.C., Canada — Sree Roy, Managing Editor — I’m impressed with anyone who runs her own nail salon. Between hiring, firing, designing the space and the menu, and the myriad of ups and downs of salon ownership, it’s a career that’s not for the faint of heart. Which is why, when I visited Talons Nail Evolution, I found myself triply impressed with owner Michelle Barteaux. Not only does she run the salon, she also teaches nail tech training classes and runs a distribution center for En Vogue and Essie out of the same two-story space.
I first met Michelle last year at IBS Las Vegas, which is evidence to how well-connected she is in the industry. She and her husband Chris, who co-owns the business, are equally well-connected in the city of Victoria. Indeed, the salon’s grand opening party was by invitation only, which lent a mystique to the 1,600-sq.-ft. space. Six months later, Michelle still likes to take advantage of any mystery surrounding the salon. “When men snoop in, I’ll ask them ‘Are you here for the ‘man-zilian’?” she jokes, before allaying their panic and telling them about the menu.
The salon focuses on gel nails, various levels of pedicures, and nail art that’s “funky,” as Michelle describes it. It has a clean, industrial feel that’s softened by “Talons green,” a custom lime that makes a bold statement. There are lots of black and silver accents as well, an homage to Michelle’s strong relationship with En Vogue that manifests itself mostly in lively animal prints. Michelle’s eye for detail shows up in the accent lighting, with fun martini glass-shaped lights and a dramatic sparkly chandelier.
Also downstairs is the distribution center. Michelle’s been an international educator for En Vogue since 2000 and is the exclusive distributor of the line on Vancouver Island. Upstairs is a classroom, where she teaches a manufacturer-specific training course for aspiring techs, a spa pedicure and advanced e-file techniques class, and a nail art class. Techs who complete the nine-week nail technician training program can then practice in British Columbia; the province, like many others, doesn’t have government licensing.
Teaching gives Michelle the advantage of getting first pick of nail techs. Regarding concerns about training techs who will work at competing salons, Michelle says, “I generally win on the distribution end, because they’ll keep using En Vogue.” Chris adds, “The more good techs you put out there, the more benefit to the industry as a whole, and the more it comes back to you. If the competition gets better and raises its prices, then we can all raise our prices and everyone can make a better living. ”
The couple’s Jack Russell Terrier, Diva, frequently visits the salon, where she often attracts the attention of passers-by, prompting them to come in and say hello.
Michelle teaches classes here about four to six times a year, usually on weeknight evenings.
In addition to distributing En Vogue product at Talons, online purchasing options are also available.
Custom-built furnishings, like S-shaped manicure tables that were created to curve around the space’s existing pillars, give the salon a unique look.