As we down our delicious virgin mojitos and snacks, we enjoyed the massage options of the SalonTech SpaJoy pedicure chairs.

As we down our delicious virgin mojitos and snacks, we enjoyed the massage options of the SalonTech SpaJoy pedicure chairs.

Las Vegas — Sree Roy, Managing Editor and Tim Crowley, Associate Editor — It was tradeshow time, and before the NAILS team could hit the show floor, we had to make sure our nails were in proper order (of course!). So as soon as we got off the plane, we headed to two salons for manicures and pedicures. Not a bad way to spend the day.

The highly reflective nature of Da-Lonnie’s Hair & Nail Studio windows helps keep the salon cool and makes it feel like an escape once inside.

The highly reflective nature of Da-Lonnie’s Hair & Nail Studio windows helps keep the salon cool and makes it feel like an escape once inside.

Da-Lonnie’s Hair & Nail Studio

Tim: The first place we went was Loni Jensen-Preato’s Da-Lonnie’s Hair & Nail Studio. Jensen-Preato’s salon had soothing earth-tones and a well-functioning air conditioner to immediately cool us down from the desert heat. Once inside, our techs Jensen-Preato and Shana McManus sat us down and served us cheese and crackers and delicious virgin mojitos.

Sree: I was especially excited to visit this salon, because it’s brand new and I wanted to pick Jensen-Preato’s brain about what it’s like to be a first-time salon owner. (It hasn’t even had an official grand opening yet, so Jensen-Preato is planning a big celebration for its one-year anniversary.) “It was a dream of mine 19 years ago when I started, and it finally came true,” she gushes. Like Tim, I noticed the relaxing decor and was happy that Jensen-Preato took some risks with the interior design. (The risks definitely paid off.) A unique paint technique was used to mimic Venetian plaster on the walls of the main room, while rich colors adorn the break and bathrooms. “I’m an even-keeled person, not one for a lot of flashy color, so this was a stretch for me,” Jensen-Preato admits, though she’s very happy with how it turned out.

Sree and Tim were so happy with the hospitality of Loni Jensen-Preato (far left) and Shana McManus (far right).

Sree and Tim were so happy with the hospitality of Loni Jensen-Preato (far left) and Shana McManus (far right).

Tim: As we settled in for our pedicures, Jensen-Preato told us we were about to get her special mojito pedicure service. Bacardi rum is added to the pedicure water because it adds a mojito-esque aroma and the alcohol works as a disinfectant.

Everything about the service went together. This was my first “themed” service, and I enjoyed the little details. I can definitely understand why themed services are client favorites. The taste of the mojito drink blended perfectly with the smells of the mint coming from the pedicure tub. It made me feel like I was getting the royal treatment, and it’s worth a little extra to indulge in such a pleasing service.

My tech, McManus, took extra good care of my feet. She started with a callus exfoliator and left it on for a few moments to soften the calluses. She then used a hand file to file them down. She also used an electric file with a pedicure bit to buff away even more calluses. Though it tickled a bit, it left my feet very smooth.

These faux walls (the partitions between the manicure tables) were Jensen- Preato’s biggest challenge when opening the salon; even though they are non-weight-bearing walls, she had to get a county license to install them.

These faux walls (the partitions between the manicure tables) were Jensen- Preato’s biggest challenge when opening the salon; even though they are non-weight-bearing walls, she had to get a county license to install them.

Sree: I was pleased that Jensen- Preato did my pedicure herself. (She has seven booth renters and regularly works alongside them.) She offered advice for other techs who want to open their own salons: 1. Doublecheck all (which may include both city and county) licensing requirements. She’d run into some problems that required her to hire a contractor and an architect to sort them out. And 2. Take the custom furniture route. She would recommend it over prefabricated options. She says it didn’t cost her any more than prefab designs and she got exactly what she wanted.

Tim: While Sree was chatting with Jensen-Preato, I was talking to McManus about her clientele. She doesn’t get too many male clients, but does have a few regulars. She enjoys taking her 14-yearold son to get regular pedicures with her at the salon. “I tell him that it’s important to take care of his feet. No girl wants to be with a guy with hideous feet, and it’s just a good thing to do health-wise, so you don’t get ingrown nails.” McManus says her younger son is a little too young now, but when he becomes a teenager she’ll start taking him as well.[PAGEBREAK]

Kaya Beauty

After we finished it was off to Kaya Beauty, a full-service salon in nearby Henderson, Nev., for manicures. We were given a quick tour of the facilities by nail tech Lynn Weber. The salon has private rooms with dim lights and soothing music for spa services like massages and body scrubs, and some pedicure thrones are in a private room as well.

Sree: We discovered Kaya after Weber responded to the MySpace bulletin I’d posted online through the magazine’s MySpace page (www. myspace.com/nailsmagazine). I like how Weber is so tech savvy when it comes to getting the word out about the salon. After she finishes a service, she usually takes an after-picture of her client’s nails, then she’ll post this picture on her client’s MySpace page, along with a public note of thanks for visiting Kaya Beauty. Of course, all the client’s friends will notice the note — and the fabulous nails — and will contact Weber about booking appointments with her. Very smart!

The rooibos at Kaya Beauty is sprinkled into African Shea butter to help exfoliate and cleanse the skin during the themed manicure’s massage.

The rooibos at Kaya Beauty is sprinkled into African Shea butter to help exfoliate and cleanse the skin during the themed manicure’s massage.

Tim: We received another themed service at this salon — African Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) Manicures. The services began with a quick lesson on the origins of the red tea. It comes from the rooibos plant, which is native to South Africa and in Afrikaans literally translates to “red bush.” One of the salon’s co-owners, Mark Cottle (the others are Natasha and Charity Formby), is originally from South Africa, so it was a great tie-in to do this signature service (plus, the rooibos worked as a great exfoliant when it was added to the service’s lotions and butters.)

Sree: I was thrilled to be getting another specialty service, and more thrilled when I found out the salon changes the manicure theme every month. The African Rooibos Manicure turned into Mojito Madness Manicures the next month (I guess that’s a popular choice in Vegas!), and I’m curious as to what it’ll be the month after that. That’s another great hook to keep clients coming back regularly.

Nail tech Shelby Passey works her magic on Tim.

Nail tech Shelby Passey works her magic on Tim.

Tim: After our services, we talked more to Cottle about his South African background and how the salon reflects that. The name Kaya is a Zulu word meaning “home.” “I grew up around the Zulus and a have been influenced a lot by their culture,” he says. “And I grew up drinking red tea. It is high in antioxidants, higher even than green tea, and now it’s readily available in the States. A couple years back it was hard to get, but now you can find it everywhere so it’s easy to incorporate into our services now.”

From left to right: Sree, Shelby Passey, Lynn Weber, and Tim pose in front of Kaya Beauty’s retail area.

From left to right: Sree, Shelby Passey, Lynn Weber, and Tim pose in front of Kaya Beauty’s retail area.

My tech Shelby Passey talked about the upcoming IBS show, and though she wasn’t attending this year, she had been in the past and always had a good time. “It’s great when you can get your co-workers [techs and hairstylists] to make a trip out of it,” she says. “It’s fun. We’ll try out the different products, compare what we all bought, and then have a great time hanging out after the show.”

Sree: Passey was right about the show being a good time. We left Kaya in great spirits and enjoyed IBS Las Vegas for the next few days— as we showed off our newly done hands and feet.