After a lengthy hiatus, one-time nail tech Pamela Reeder jumps back into the salon world — toes first — with an array of natural nail services in Solana Beach, Calif.
Raised pedicure stations offer a great place for clients to sit and relax while enjoying a view of passing pedestrians and cyclists.
Before opening Beachy Toes in Solana Beach, Calif., Pamela Reeder thought she was done with the nail business for good. Twenty years ago, Reeder graduated from a nail school in Las Vegas and began working at a Caesar’s Palace salon, but didn’t realize she’d developed an allergy to acrylic resin that left angry rashes up to her elbows. At a time when nail enhancements were growing in popularity, this meant an early retirement from the nail industry for Reeder after just six months on the job.
For the next several years, she stayed in the creative field as a buyer for retail boutiques in both Las Vegas and Hawaii. After landing in sunny Solana Beach, however, Reeder fell in love with the locale and saw a lack of salons focusing on all-natural treatments (meaning no acrylics to provoke her allergies).
“I was looking for a business that I felt was needed,” she explains. “The best way to be successful is to find what’s missing and then fill that need. The people who live here are very health-conscious. Our salon is a natural salon, and that’s been very appealing to the locals here who are very concerned about all that.”
The search for the perfect location lasted two years until Reeder found a converted office space on Coast Highway that was once a 1940s shower house. With the help of her cosmetologist daughter, Lasette Oropez, she renovated the building and opened Beachy Toes nail salon in August 2010.
Organic ingredients for the Summer Lemonade and Blue Crush treatments add a bright touch to the salon’s clean, white walls.
A NATURAL NICHE
Located in a small oceanfront town, Beachy Toes salon is nestled among a street of juice bars, cafes, and yoga studios. “Everyone’s into surfing and paddleboarding,” Reeder says. “Except for summer and spring break, we have mostly locals.”
Locals make up a majority of Beachy Toes’ business and are the audience that Reeder had in mind when opening the salon. Known for being a “baby boomer” destination — where pregnant women abound — as well as a center for all things organic and active, Solana Beach was the ideal spot to open a salon dedicated to natural nails, says Reeder, who oversees operations.
Eschewing gels and acrylics, Beachy Toes opts to make its own sugar scrubs every morning and offers treatments using a range of organic-based ingredients and “five-free” Zoya polish. “Our basic pedicure ($35) and manicure ($25) is the Summer Lemonade, in which we slice fresh lemons and put them in the water,” Reeder says. “Then we use the lemon sugar scrub that we make.”
In addition to the Summer Lemonade pedicure, the salon offers three other specialty treatments with organic ingredients (manicure: $30/pedicure: $40). The Hawaiian Lei features jasmine fragrance and coconut oil from Tahiti and a coconut foot mask, while the Blue Crush offers a touch of fresh mint and a bath bomb with a real seashell that emerges when dissolved. The most popular of the three, the California Dreaming treatment uses mango and orange slices, finished with a homemade orange scrub and papaya foot mask.
“It’s been really fun putting it all together,” Reeder says. “We’ve changed our specialty pedicures a couple of times, but we’ve got it down now that these are the perfect ones.”
For $5 per nail, Beachy Toes also offers custom nail art designs. While starfish, flowers, and beachscapes are the most-requested artwork, Reeder says Oropez can freehand any client request.
Between natural nail treatments and the demand for custom nail art, business is up this year for the salon, despite the recent popularity of gel-polish. “Our clients don’t even want UV lights. We’re very granola down here,” she says.
A beach towel-inspired sign beckons passersby to stop by the salon for a specialty manicure or pedicure. (From left to right: Lasette Oropez, Torey Bartu, Pamela Reeder, Taylor Pelchat, Paul Hatch)
Aside from the promise of a natural experience, the appeal of the salon has a lot to do with its location, Reeder explains. The crisp white interior of Beachy Toes is inspired from top to bottom by the pristine, sandy beaches found across the street. Brightly colored resin tubs and striped throw pillows accent the white wood floors, open beam ceilings, and manicure stations in the 375-sq.-ft. salon. The five raised pedicure stations, constructed with the help of Reeder’s nephew, offer views of passing pedestrians and cyclists enjoying the warm beach weather.
“We had to get pretty creative because we were on a tight budget,” Reeder says. “A lot of stuff is from Ikea and Pottery Barn.”
Reeder also has a small space set up where she offers an array of beach-inspired products for clients to peruse, including Hawaiian jewelry, lip balms, and light scarves, though retail makes up less than 5% of gross revenue. Appropriately, flip-flops are a top-selling item, with options ranging from embellished leather straps to patterned soles. The flip-flop is also incorporated into the salon’s new VIP membership program — if clients show the Beachy Toes flip-flop keychain during a visit, they receive complimentary gifts like an add-on hot stone massage or a bottle of nail polish to take home.
The centerpiece of Beachy Toes’ decor, however, is an oversized chalkboard menu in the middle of a surfboard, just one of many hanging on the walls of the salon. Out front, a table, chairs, and beach umbrella are a draw for walk-in business.
Girlfriends and wedding parties are two types of clientele that frequent Beachy Toes.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Even the salon’s employees fall in line with the beach theme, though this is more of a happy coincidence. “Our other full-time nail tech is actually a guy — a surfer guy — and the women really love him,” Reeder says. “He’s from L.A. and wanted to move here and change his lifestyle.”
Reeder explains that one of the biggest challenges she faces as a salon owner is trying to find the right type of people to work for her. Though she seeks out employees who are talented and meticulous, the most important quality for her is personality.
“That’s a big thing with us,” she says of her employees’ interactions with clients. “Our customers really love us. They can come in to chat or tell us all their problems. We watch their kids grow up.”
Currently Beachy Toes only has three full-time employees (two who work on nails), as well as a handful of part-time manicurists Reeder brings in on an on-call basis. With two manicure stations and five pedicure stations, she hopes to soon fill the empty chairs in order to boost the salon’s revenue. Her priority, however, remains on bringing in employees with a good attitude and personality.
“I would rather turn away business than have the wrong people working for us,” Reeder says. “I used to have a nail license 20 years ago. I’m thinking about getting it back, actually, and going to work on nails in the salon.”
Some of the amenities offered at the sunny salon include beach-inspired drinks and reggae music to keep the atmosphere fun and light.
Salon name: Beachy Toes
Location: Solana Beach, Calif.
Owner: Pamela Reeder
Square Footage: 375
Opened: August 2010
Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 2 (plus part-time on-call nail techs)/3
Specialties: Natural nail treatments
PHOTOS BY BAUMAN PHOTOGRAPERS