Salon name: Mod Nail Bar
Owner: Monica and Brandon Nguyen
Square footage: 1,600
Opened: September 2014
Number of nail techs/employees: 8/10
Specialties: Spa pedicures and nail enhancements
Compensation structure: Salary plus commission
LEARNING FROM THE BEST
Nail tech Monica Nguyen grew up in her family’s nail business. When she was 19, Nguyen accepted a job offer from Instagram influencer and celebrity nail artist Kandi Banks (@kandiyamz) after responding to a social media post looking for nail techs. A few years later, Nguyen decided to move to Los Angeles to work at the upscale Laque Nail Bar, which has almost 2 million Instagram followers.
“Laque was a completely different salon environment from the smaller family-owned business I was used to,” Nguyen says. “Their standards are so high and that’s where I really learned the quality of your work is more important than getting clients in and out of your chair.”
Nguyen improved a lot as a nail artist while in L.A., but she eventually decide to take her extensive experience to Houston, because of family ties, affordability, and the low number of trendy nail salons. Houston was also where she met her husband and business partner, Brandon.
“When I came to Houston in 2014, there weren’t really any salons here like Laque Nail Bar, and I knew if we opened a similar salon, it would be a game changer,” she says. “We didn’t want to be a quick stop for people.”
PROJECTING GOOD VIBES
Instead of going for a relaxing spa atmosphere like most salons in Houston, Nguyen envisioned a different vibe. The staff engages in lively conversations, and a playlist of hip music can be heard in the background — everything from Michael Jackson to Drake.
“One of the main compliments we receive, besides those about our complimentary alcohol, is how our music playlist is the right mix of nostalgic and current,” she says. “This is where our name, MOD, came into play — we wanted to create modern salon with good vibes.”
A salon visit feels like a group of friends socializing and discussing life while simultaneously receiving specialty services that add that extra touch.
“Little things like fresh fruit and rose petals in our pedicure bowls help add character to our services, and that alone draws a lot of clients in,” she says. “Presentation is key.”
MOD offers a light and gentle pedicure for moms-to-be, and a pedicure with an intense massage for those on their feet all day. All pedicures come with custom-made moisturizers — like a strawberry foaming scrub and illuminated leg mask — and custom-made bath bombs, the most unique of which has gold glitter and a champagne scent.
The interior of the salon has motivational art hanging on the walls and the interior is “black and gold everything,” including the furniture, most of which Nguyen had custom made to meet her standards. The spacious salon often hosts bridal showers and company outings, and they’ll even do events outside the salon for local concerts or businesses such as Uber.
“We’re always learning and bettering ourselves, so work never gets boring,” she says “Plus, we’re all so close and spend so much time together, sometimes 60-plus hours a week. They’re my family.”