Maisie Dunbar goes on the road to check out Giovanni's full-service salon in the neighboring town of Largo, Maryland.
Titilayo Bankole gives me a manicure at Giovanni’s in Largo, Md.
When NAILS invited me to visit a salon to write an article, I took the opportunity to go to one I’d been wanting to visit for a while. It’s a full-service salon in Largo (about a half-hour drive from my salon) called Giovanni’s. I knew the salon had a great reputation; plus, I’d previously met booth renter Titilayo Bankole at a tradeshow. I was excited to finally see where she works in person.
Bankole has an interesting history in the beauty industry. She originally apprenticed as a hairstylist, but then decided she’d rather work in nails. “In 1990, I didn’t see a lot of people doing pink-and-whites, and I really wanted to master acrylics,” Bankole says. She’s happy with her decision, and the Forever French (acrylic pink-and-whites) remains her most popular service. She’s also happy being a booth renter (everyone at Giovanni’s is a booth renter; there are no employees) because of the independence and control it gives her business.
She’s currently the sole nail tech at the salon — her booth is called Visionary Nail Spa — and she offers an array of services, including acrylics, gels, and nail art. I opted for a classic spa manicure and pedicure, plus a paraffin dip for my hands.
The pedicure room is separate from the rest of the salon, and white curtains offer additional privacy.
The manicure started with a soak in a bowl that had rocks and marbles in it to “stimulate my experience” and massage my fingertips, Bankole pointed out, adding, “Little things you don’t think make a difference can actually make a difference.” It’s the little things like how Giovanni’s offers refreshments, checks clients’ coats, and offers clients a tour of the salon that makes them feel comfortable. “We cater to the customer’s needs,” Bankole says.
The décor does this as well. The salon features earth tones, which lend a relaxing and calm feeling to the space. The pedicure area is located in a separate room from the hustle-and-bustle of the hairdressing area. White curtains between each pedicure throne and the next offer additional privacy options.
It was great to talk with another nail tech about her background, the industry in general, and our specific service offerings. Bankole noted that it was like “a meeting of the minds,” saying we do some things differently but more things the same as each other. Both of us pay attention to the integrity of the natural nail during a manicure, but when it comes to the massage, I do one intense massage before a paraffin dip while Bankole does a moderate massage both before and after.
Nail assistant Shayla Threat (left), owner Daniel Irvine (center), and Bankole pose for a photo during my visit.
The overall experience was great. I got a chance to relax for one and a half hours and experience the industry from the other side.