When visiting the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, we couldn’t just stop at just one salon since we don’t get over that way too often. Follow along as we discover unique salons in D.C., central Maryland, and northern Virginia.

A retired government employee and self-proclaimed spa junkie, Patsy Tavenner (left) debated between opening a deli or opening a salon. After finding there were too many delis in D.C., she looked for a niche in the nail salon industry.

A retired government employee and self-proclaimed spa junkie, Patsy Tavenner (left) debated between opening a deli or opening a salon. After finding there were too many delis in D.C., she looked for a niche in the nail salon industry.

Patsy’s Nail Bar, Washington D.C.
www.patsysnailbar.com

 

Tried and True
Nail techs start the pedicure spa disinfecting process while the client is still in the chair. The tech puts the client’s feet up on the spa footrest for the polish application while the tech empties the basin and lets it refill with clean water. She adds disinfectant and lets it swirl for 10 minutes. Before the client’s polish is even dry, the disinfectant has done its job. This time-saver works because every member of the staff does it the same way every time. Clients appreciate watching the spa being cleaned.

 

A Little DIY
The salon charges $20 and up for acrylic nail removal, but Patsy is happy to give out DIY removal instructions and free products (an orangewood stick, a file, and a buffer block) to walk-ins who ask about the service. (She got the DIY Acrylic Removal Guide from www.nailsmag.com/handouts — under “for clients”.) A tech will even put petroleum jelly around the person’s fingernails to protect her skin from acetone’s drying effects. (The salon instructs the person to buy her own acetone.) Why? Patsy doesn’t want the person to waste up to an hour in the salon for this service, plus she says many of those walk-in inquiries become true Patsy’s Nail Bar clients.

 

Recruiting Strategies
My tech Sara Jamsran is part of a staff of three full-time and two part-time nail techs at Patsy’s, but, as we frequently hear from salon owners, finding enough well-qualified techs is a challenge. Owner Patsy signed up to host a CND Shellac class at her salon, in hopes that it will attract talented nail techs from the area, who she then may be able to recruit for the salon. (If you’re interested in applying at Patsy’s, call (202) 466-2457.)

Fun Facts:
> Patsy’s Nail Bar hosted an Oprah’s Last Show Party, letting clients watch the show’s final episode while getting nail services. This party became a media sensation for Patsy’s, garnering the salon mentions on a local ABC affiliate, NPR, and a slew of other local stations like Nos Dutch TV.

> The first dollar the salon ever earned is framed and kept behind the cash register at Patsy’s Nail Bar.

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The staff who was working at the salon on Thursday morning were happy to take a photo with me (third from right). From left to right: Nancy Diaz, Iris Baker, Maisie Dunbar, Humaira Khan, and Jasmine Young.

The staff who was working at the salon on Thursday morning were happy to take a photo with me (third from right). From left to right: Nancy Diaz, Iris Baker, Maisie Dunbar, Humaira Khan, and Jasmine Young.

Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge, Silver Spring, Md.
www.maisiedunbarspalounge.com

 

Big Welcome
I was given a tour upon entrance, and I assumed the tour was just for this article. But as it turns out, every new client gets a tour. Each new client also fills out an “intake information form,” on which she shares information such as her birthday (for a birthday card), her e-mail address (if she wants the salon’s e-newsletter), and any health issues that may affect her beauty services. She also receives a welcome bag that includes product samples, a welcome letter, and info about the salon’s “Points & Rewards” loyalty program.

 

Suggesting Skin Care
Skin care is an area in which veteran salon owner Maisie is still trying to build the business. She came up with an innovative idea about three years ago, when she launched a $78/month unlimited skin care services plan. “It lets people explore our skin care menu, so I was able to build the business that way,” she says. The salon recently added threading and henna services. For a brow threading, the client gets to lie down on a doctor’s office-style bed, instead of sitting up like at many other salons.

 

Product Placement
Maisie has a keen eye for visual merchandising — which comes in handy since the salon’s retail selection is huge. When it comes to placement, she keeps like with like (tea next to candles, all foot care products together), and moves items around a lot. “I like to keep it fresh,” Maisie says. What doesn’t sell? Polish. Maisie sells polish only on request, pricing it according to how much is left in the bottle (either retail price, wholesale price, or free).

Fun Facts:
> In her first week at the new location of Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge (her spa recently moved), Maisie saw so many dogs, plus a dog park within walking distance, that within days she was at Cosmoprof stocking up on dog products for retail. (Get a list of salon-friendly pet products at www.nailsmag.com/petretail.)

> At Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge, techs swear by the Angelfeet Pedicure File, a sanitizable stainless steel pedicure file. Maisie buys about 12 to 20 at a time.

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Eclips Kids is a full-service kids-only salon for clients up to the age of 15. “We have double the pressure, because we have to satisfy both the kids and their parents,” says co-owner Imra Jauhar.

Eclips Kids is a full-service kids-only salon for clients up to the age of 15. “We have double the pressure, because we have to satisfy both the kids and their parents,” says co-owner Imra Jauhar.

Eclips Kids Salon and Spa, McClean, Va.
www.eclipskids.com

 

They Want Candy
The salon gives away the Ultimate Candy Destination nail service to underprivileged kids with cancer. It features a chocolate mask and cleanser, a vanilla and plum lotion, and a squirt of pineapple-scented fragrance. The kids are referred through the cancer unit at a children’s hospital. “Before their visit, some of these kids have never even been in a salon,” Imra says.

 

Back for More
Most of the salon’s clients are repeat clients, many of whom have been coming to Eclips for years. Once a year, the salon hires a local photographer to take professional client photos, then these are framed and used as salon decor (with the parents’ permission). Imra showed me one photo in which a client was five at the time of the photo; she’s now 10 and still a client of Eclips.

 

The Royal Treatment
A pink “Princess Bed” is a centerpiece of the salon. A hair client walks up the pink steps, then lies down at the top with her head in the shampoo bowl. “It alleviates her fears,” Imra says.  Also to calm (and distract) the clients are fruit-scented products (Imra especially likes kid-focused brand Circle of Friends), and a wide array of DVDs so clients can chose what they want to watch during their service. Parents can either stay and read a magazine in the waiting area or parents of older kids can leave and run errands. 

Fun Facts:
> Being one of the few kid salons/boutiques around, the owners at Eclips Kids are frequently contacted by kid-focused product manufacturers. One of the salon’s popular retail products is the Dinosaur Rain Coat by Kidorable (which rocker Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale’s son Kingston has been photographed wearing — though the salon stocked it even before that press mention).

> The nail tables at Eclips Kids were custom ordered to be lower than standard manicure tables. For hair chairs, the salon uses standard chairs with booster cushions.