Long Beach, Calif.-based salon owner Elizabeth Ashton uses ayurvedic wellness techniques from India to provide clients with relaxing services based on age-old tradition.
The salon’s mini-library holds an assortment of books that are always available for clients to borrow and bring back on their next visit.
Elizabeth Ashton Ayurvedic Nail Spa’s services incorporate a traditional alternative medicine system from India that dates back thousands of years. Owner and manicurist Elizabeth Ashton is certified in ayurveda and focuses her downtown Long Beach, Calif., salon’s hand and foot treatments on wellness, beauty, and enjoyment.
“The reason I chose the area is because it’s one of a kind,” Ashton says. In addition to being located in one of the fastest-growing and trendiest parts of Long Beach, the salon is two blocks away from the ocean and the Long Beach Convention Center. The newly created bike lane in front of the shop has also helped bring in traffic from neighboring high-end clothing boutiques and art galleries.
Elizabeth Ashton’s husband, Brenzil, not only constructed the entire salon with the help of their son Byron and friend Ray Montoya, but also chose the color scheme and floor design.
Ashton originally purchased the space in July 2009 and spent the next nine months working with her family to transform it into a nail salon in their spare time. Her husband Brenzil oversaw construction, her daughter Paradise helped create the salon’s decor, and her son Byron, a safety engineer, took care of the safety rules and business regulations. “I worked from paycheck to paycheck to put my business together,” she says. “It was a little tough but I decided that this is what I want and whatever it takes to get it, I’m going to do.”
Previously, Ashton ran a mobile salon called Pretty Nails on Wheels for more than 30 years while also working as a train dispatcher. She also managed two salons in Inglewood, Calif., before getting licensed as a nail tech. Ashton says her passion for nails stems from the times she spent taking care of her family’s nails when she was younger.
The salon is currently appointment-only as Ashton is the only manicurist on staff and serves one client at a time. She does have three on-call manicurists she calls in for different events. “I’ve served up to six or seven clients at a time when I do spa parties. I’ll have an assistant there and that’s all I need,” she says. “I’m about quality work. It’s not about the quantity that’s fast; it’s about the quality of the person and the quality of the work and your products.”
“It’s calm, relaxing, personal, and intimate,” Ashton says of the salon’s decor. “I like it because it gives you that one-on-one touch, feel, and privacy with clients.” Her daughter Paradise incorporated furniture and artwork from local vendors to help enhance the salon’s light atmosphere while friend Ján Montoya of Ján Montoya Design created the logo and branding strategy.
Ray Montoya, father of designer Ján, assisted Ashton’s husband Brenzil with all of the salon’s construction and painting. “It worked out beautifully,” she adds. “I have an Indian theme as far as the colors and the materials to tie in the ayurvedic theme, but it also has a regal look.”
The salon features two chairs for pedicures and two manicure stations as well as partially frosted windows to give clients a sense of privacy. Ashton explains that the salon’s pedicure stations do not use whirlpool baths in order to avoid using recycled water on clients. Considering that most clients request natural nail services, she also avoids using an electric file as much as possible unless a client comes in with acrylics or requests it specifically.
In addition to the calming atmosphere and music, a large white bookcase stocked with a diverse assortment of books is another main point of interest for clients. “I’m making a little library for them so they’ll have something to read. If they come in for their service, they may check out a book and they’ll bring it back to the next service,” Ashton says. “We’re getting ready to do a book club.”
Clients also appreciate the fact that there isn’t a language barrier between them, she says. “They want to be able to have a conversation and to be able to tell someone how their day went.” Clients also compliment her on the salon’s tidiness and pleasing smells. “Business is great,” Ashton says. “The area is coming alive and I’m a part of that.”