Sometimes we travel far and wide to visit nail salons, but sometimes we get lucky and find a hidden gem right in our own backyard. Remember a few months back when I wrote my monthly column “Can We Change the Stereotype?” In it, I expressed my dismay at finding a local salon that I could call my own. I received an e-mail from Ally Conley, the owner of Mani Pedi Cutie.

She had read my cry for help and invited me to come in for services. And she told me to bring some friends! You see, Mani Pedi Cutie! is big on socializing and hanging out. Ally got the idea to open a salon that was kid-friendly when she needed a pedicure but didn’t have anyone to watch her daughter when she went to the salon.

And when I say kid-friendly, I mean really kid-friendly. There are two distinct sections in the salon — one for the adults and one for the kids (complete with smaller pedicure benches and chairs). Moms can come in with their daughters and “drop them off” for a service in the kid area while they get services in the adult area. (They’re right across the room from each other, but the moms get a chance to relax and read a magazine while their daughters are entertained during their services.)

Both kid and adult sections have five custom-built pedicure stations and four manicure tables each. There is also a nail bar for when the salon gets crowded, and a private Hollywood Room in the back where the salon offers makeup classes for teens on Saturdays.

I booked the Beach Babe mani/pedi combo and took my best friend Emily since Ally suggested I bring friends. While we were there, several tween girls came in for services and they were given wireless headphones so they could watch “High School Musical,” which was playing on the flatscreen TV on the kid side. What a great idea to give the kids headsets so the adults wouldn’t have to be subjected to the singing of Zac Efron.

We enjoyed our services. (The salon’s own coconut scrub and lotion was to die for!) And we had a great time chatting with Ally and our nail techs, Jenny Gonzalez and Maggie Lu. Both techs were extremely knowledgeable and friendly — adding to the down-home vibe of the salon.

The salon also has plenty of parties. Tuesday nights are Teen Nights and even though it has only been open since August of 2008, it’s already been host to a number of bridal parties as well. I can see why people would want to have a gathering here. I can’t wait to go back. I think I just found my new neighborhood salon.

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