When Angie Prichard first visited nail tech Jana Warnke as a client in 2013, she found both excellent nail care and inspiration. Visiting family in Clarksville, Tenn., after the death of her husband, Prichard had difficulty finding a good nail service. Her daughter worked near a salon and suggested her mother try there, leading Prichard to meet Warnke. Warnke mentioned her dream of opening a salon that focused on top-notch sanitation, and Prichard loved the idea.
“It really fascinated me because I had never encountered a safe salon before, from Maine to California,” says Prichard. “I knew that it would be an important niche — something that wasn’t widely available or even talked about yet.”
An experienced businesswoman, she decided to open a sanitation-focused nail salon with Warnke when she moved back to Clarksville to be near her family. “I knew we’d have a unique niche and we’d attract interest in that way,” says Prichard. “It’s good business when you can find a niche and help people at the same time.”
Opened in March 2014, Hands & Feet Boutique focuses on providing both skilled and safe services to its clients. One of the salon’s techs has received the ANT (Advanced Nail Technologist) certification through the MediNail program, and Prichard herself is in the process of being certified as well. Prichard emphasizes teaching clients to recognize when a salon is truly safe and hygienic. For example, nail techs explain how implement bags that have been sterilized in an autoclave change color, so that clients can indentify properly sterilized implements.
Clarksville has been called “the gateway to the south.” A rapidly growing area with a large military population due to the nearby Fort Campbell army base, it’s also a popular area for military retirees, according to Prichard. Members of the military get a 10% discount at the salon, as do seniors.
Hands & Feet Boutique has a view of the Cumberland Riverwalk, a walking path and park area along the Cumberland River. Riverboats stop not far from the salon, and sometimes clients come from the riverboats for a quick nail service. “We enjoy hearing about their travels,” says Prichard.
There aren’t any other nail salons near Hands & Feet, but it’s close to other businesses, including a tattoo parlor and a barbershop. Potential clients can check out the salon from home through a recently created virtual Google Maps tour, which can be accessed through Google Maps or the salon website.
“We offer the full range of services from basic mani/pedis to full-on blinged out nails with embedded objects,” says Prichard. The salon is known for its nail art, and offers acrylics, hard gels, and soak-off gels as well. It also offers a full slate of pedicures including dry pedicures, express services, and special maintenance for elderly or disabled clients.
Prices start at $25 for a regular manicure, $35 for a gel manicure, and $35 for a standard pedicure. It also sells pedicure products and other boutique items such as sandals.
“We serve them young and old,” says Prichard. The salon has such a broad range of clientele that it’s difficult to describe a typical client, she explains. Many clients come for nail art, sitting for hours to get the perfect design. Prichard notes that her school teacher clients opt for gel-polish manicures because they last longer.
Hands & Feet is a social space as well, hosting events such as bridal parties and birthday parties for little girls. Male clients make up just a small portion of the clientele, but those clients are regulars. The salon partners with a local podiatrist who refers clients needing basic care, while the nail techs refer clients for medical care if they notice any potential problems.
Prichard trains staff to follow the highest sanitation standards possible. “It can be challenging to retrain techs who aren’t used to such high standards,” she says. While she had some difficulty finding staff at first, she’s assembled a reliable group. “We have a good team now,” she says.
The salon employs five nail techs. They go to classes and tradeshows to develop their skills, and Prichard pays for further education if nail techs are interested in becoming ANTs. “I like for them to be the best they can be,” she explains.
She thinks the atmosphere of her salon makes it a good place to work. “They’re not rushed or pushed,” she says of her nail techs. “They’re able to do their job and do it correctly. I’m not making them watch the clock.”
“Shabby chic is what we like to call it,” says Prichard. The salon’s nail desks are repainted antique vanities fitted with filters and a custom-made glass top for easy cleaning. Each nail tech can put her own decoration beneath the glass, allowing a touch of personal creativity, and the staff changes decorations for each season.
Prichard wants clients to feel relaxed and at home when visiting the salon. She set up comfortable chairs and basins for pedicures in order to make services easier on the clients. “We want them to feel very comfortable and cared for,” says Prichard. “We want them to have an experience, rather than just getting their nails done.”
Prichard hopes to spread her emphasis on salon safety. “My future plan is to not be the only one in our area,” she says. “We want to inspire others to take the leap of faith and become a safe salon.”
Prichard also focuses on keeping the salon involved with the local community through her support of charitable events and groups. “Donations are at the center of most of our marketing,” she explains. “We try to keep local.”
Salon Name: Hands & Feet Boutique
Location: Clarksville, Tenn.
Owner: Angie Prichard
Opened: March 2014
Square footage: 800
Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 5/8
Specialties: Nail art, sanitation
Compensation Structure: Hourly with commission