Breathing Easy

When I met with the leasing agent for the space where I currently call my salon, I was very clear about my intentions to blow the landlords’ preconceptions of “nail salon” to smithereens.
Since I was specifically looking for a small office space, I knew from previous personal experience as well as from the experiences of many colleagues that a lot of landlords aren’t particularly keen on having a nail salon in their office building. Even if you find a landlord who doesn’t mind, you still have to win over the hearts, minds, and noses, of the neighbors.
For starters, I don’t allow clients to bring their children with them. I’m terribly allergic to children to begin with, I don’t offer a salon experience that is child-appropriate, and I wanted to be in an office building where the neighbors weren’t likely to have children running through the halls either. So it was important to assure my future landlords that a small nail studio in their building wasn’t likely to introduce any more — or different — traffic than the current CPAs and attorneys’ offices already had.
But the big thing to assure them of, as we all know, was that I wouldnotsmell like a “typical” nail salon. I was quick to promise that I would be willing to invest in an air filtration system if they wanted me to — I really wanted to work in this building. And I wanted to work here for a long,longtime.
My application was approved, my lease was signed, and I moved in to my current location on the fourth floor during the recession when nearly the entire floor was unoccupied. Nobody complained about my smell so I got lazy....I still haven’t invested in that air filter.
Meanwhile, the property management has added two other nail techs to our building — one who only does gels and one who had the misfortune of being asked to leave before her lease was up due to complaints from the neighbors on her floor.
And I must get weekly e-mails from colleagues around the country asking for recommendations on air filters for their salons.
I have done some research. I know what I intend to purchase and I know I intend to do it soon. Because it’s just a good idea to have a good air filter in a salon environment — and because I want to stay in my location!
But here’s what I have learned from my research and from the heartbreak of colleagues who have been through it:
Do a lot of research. Be prepared to spend a thousand dollars.
Landlords and neighbors don’t care if you choke on your dust — as long as they can’t smell your product. So, while dust collection is important for your health, controlling odor is the primary concern for keeping complaints at bay.
You can’t cover one obnoxious odor with another one. Don’t go out and buy a scented candle and hope it does the trick. Even if it means they can’t smell the monomer anymore, they probably won’t like the candle any better and they’ll still complain.
You need activated charcoal and LOTS of it to deal with odors. So don’t think a $30 air purifier from Target will do the trick.
Whatever the room size recommendations on a purifier — divide it by at least by two, or even better, by three. So if you have 200 square feet, get something designed for 600+ square feet. And if it says replace the filter every six months, do it every month.
Every sales rep for every product will assure you that they have a product that is perfect for you. Before you buy, sift through some of the articles in the archives right here at Just remember, if you need the neighbors to forget they’re next to a nail salon, you’ll have to shop for something that is designed for odors, not just dust.
And did I mention? Be prepared to spend a thousand dollars? I’ve been looking — these things ain’t cheap. But neither is relocating.

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