NAILS’ student blogger LaTia Wilson visited Salon 4 in Rockville, Md., for a spa pedicure, and she left with enthusiasm for her newly chosen field and motivation to stay focused on becoming a nail tech.
Salon 4 has four owners, including Leyla Heinrich (left) and Michael Houston (second from right). They took a quick picture with nail tech Susan Donnelly (right) and me.
Nailing Her Career
Fresh out of cosmetology school, Susan Donnelly was asked to perform a few nail services by a salon owner who was in a pinch. Now, over 30 years later, she’s never looked back. She discovered a passion for nails that compelled her to go from behind-the-chair to behind-the-table. As a current nail tech student, I was excited to meet Susan and pepper her with questions about the industry and her career. Entering the salon, I was greeted by name and offered refreshments. I was struck by the salon’s cool “warehouse” vibe. The owners created a space that is both airy and warm — inspired by the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water.
My spa pedicure, a welcome treat at the end of a long day, included CND’s Marine Spa Pedicure products. Susan mentioned the line is among her favorites. She is passionate about caring for natural nails, but when she does enhancements, her product of choice is Backscratchers Extreme. Whether enhanced or natural, her clients all get the same advice: “Take care of your nails. They are the first thing people notice after your face.”
A bonus for me during the service was the encouragement I received regarding pursuing my license. Getting through school and the sometimes tedious and repetitive tasks required during class can be challenging to say the least. Watching her work, and just being in the salon environment, reinvigorated me to keep my nose to the grindstone. When it came time to polish, I told Susan to pick any color she wanted. (She mentioned earlier she wishes she could tell every client: “Don’t be afraid! Wear colored polish!” So I knew she’d be up for this challenge.) The result was a set of toes made shimmering by Essie’s Coat Azure topped with Gone Gonzo from the OPI Muppets Collection.
> The space where the salon resides was previously an indoor mini-golf center. Susan frequently played putt-putt at the center in those days. Eventually, the center closed and the entire block was renovated to include shops, restaurants, and Salon 4.
> The firefighters from the firehouse across the street from the salon frequently come in to chat and hang out with the staff. The staff can tell the firefighters are around by the sound of their radios.
> Although Susan got a cosmetology license with the intention of being a hairstylist, she’s only ever really done nails professionally. She was so new to the industry that she didn’t have much opportunity to do hair before being asked to do nails (and subsequently falling in love!).
Spa Pedicure: $55;
Spa Manicure/Pedicure Combo: $80;
Shellac Manicure: $40;
Extreme Acrylic Full Set: $55
Polish: OPI, Essie, CND;
Gel Manicure: CND Shellac;
Mani/Pedi Products: CND;
Acrylic Products: Backscratchers
Read more from LaTia at blogs.nailsmag.com/student.