It’s sometimes instructive to take a look at the nail salon industry from the other side of the chair: the client’s side. That’s why it can be especially insightful to chat with a select breed of nail salon owner: the client-turned-salon entrepreneur. These owners tend to cater to their own personal client niche and strive to fix whatever flaws led them to open a salon in the first place. In the case of Color Me Green, that niche is serving eco-conscious women, especially moms, expectant moms, and their children.

The salon was opened in May 2009 by Sandra Miller, who owns a security company, her sister, Helen Shelby, whose pregnancy pushed the salon along, and Ted Cooke, Miller’s business partner at the security firm. “We’ve visited a lot of nail salons over the years and we’d talked about opening our own, but it wasn’t until Helen got pregnant that we actually did it,” Miller says. “After my sister got pregnant, she had a hard time finding a place where she wanted to get her nails done. After all, it’s so important what you put on your skin.” Hence, Color Me Green was born, with the appropriate tagline of “for the environment within you.”

The owners wanted the salon vibe to feel “like walking into your living room,” Miller says. I felt that sentiment as I was greeted with comfy armchairs, an earthy green and brown color palette (including environmentally friendly low-VOC wall paints), and a row of live plants that help serve as space dividers. The mom-friendliness was also immediately apparent — a client was getting a pedicure with an infant on her lap. (The salon’s bathroom even provides a baby changing station.) As I sank my feet into the bright green pedicure bucket, I was impressed with the fresh citrus slices placed in my soak and the wafting smell of tangerine and sweet orange essential oils. In addition to being easy to clean, the buckets are made from recycled tires, and the salon even stocks smaller size buckets to accommodate its younger clientele. The salon also employs a dedicated cleaning woman, whose job it is to properly sanitize and disinfectant each service’s tools.

The beauty products selection was also based on personal experience. The team researched products based on soy, fruit, and plant extracts, then Shelby personally tested each one. “She has sensitive skin, so if a product didn’t affect her, we used it,” Miller says. Different product lines are used for different service levels.

There were other touches that most likely came from the owners’ own experiences in salons, like purse hangers at every station, offering clients tea and coffee, and a customized fortunate cookie with every service. (Mine said, “There is confidence in beautiful nails — CMG.”) Plus, the salon maintains consistent hours seven days a week. “I never appreciated salons closing early on Sundays,” Miller says. Shelby ensures the salon stays in touch with its clients by consistently monitoring the salon’s review page, where she responds to both positive and negative comments. Miller says, “If a customer takes the time to write it, we should take the time to write back. It’s a personal touch.”    

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.