Christie: I had originally picked the name ‘Pinkie,’ but it was already being used by a salon in San Francisco. So one day I was flipping through some magazines and I saw a caption in Vogue that said ‘Sugarcoat it,’ and I liked the way it sounded. It was kind of a play on words.

I had also read an article where Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, said she chose her company’s name because it had the ‘K’ sound, which many popular brands today have (Coke, Kodak, Nike, Nikon, Campbell’s, etc.).

So Sugarcoat had the ‘K’ sound and it also had a nice meaning. To sugarcoat something means to gloss over or polish and make something seem more appealing, which is perfect for a nail and beauty bar. That‘s how Sugarcoat was born.

- Sugarcoat - Christie Shepard & Colette Lievano - Atlanta, Ga.

The idea came to me while I was in beauty school and our final assignment was to come up with a salon name and invent a spa menu. I came up with The Purple Pinkie because it’s my favorite color but my least favorite nail — I hate the pinkie nail. People usually get a big chuckle out of that. But I held onto this idea for three years before I could open my own salon, and now the name is working out great. It is really unusual and everyone remembers it.

- The Purple Pinkie - Rhonda Kibuk - Ford City, Pa.

Really it started with me sitting in a Bible study class. The pastor was doing a series of teachings about Zoe, which means life, and I wrote about the class in my journal. This was back in 1998, five years before I opened my salon.

So in 2003, when I was getting ready to open my salon, I picked up my journal from Bible studies and I happened to open up to the name Zoe, and I said, ‘This will be the name of the salon.’ To me, when I have those moments, I just go with them. The name has a very deep meaning for me.

- Zoe Nail Salon and Spa - Wanda Belk-Picquet - Charlotte, N.C.

Originally our salon was named The Sanctuary, because I wanted it to be a lounge where people could feel like they were at home in the salon; because for me, the home is my sanctuary. So we registered it as The Sanctuary. We soon found out there were quite a few other salons in the area with the same name.

We still wanted the name to have the same meaning, so we checked some different languages, like Italian, French, and Spanish, and we found Peponi, which is Swahili for heaven or sanctuary. It seemed perfect.

- Peponi Nail and Skin Care Lounge - Scean Ellis - Venice, Calif.

Believe it or not, the name Blooming Nails was a salon name featured in NAILS magazine years ago. Back then, it was a pun on the department store Bloomingdale’s and it stuck in the back of my mind.

I sold my previous salon (Glitz and Glamour) and bought some property to start a new salon. The new property was an older house with a big front yard, which we remodeled and landscaped. The name Blooming Nails fit perfectly because the yard has lots of blooming flowers. The landscaping has suffered a bit this year due to our extreme drought, but the name still works for us.

- Blooming Nails - Tina Ciesla - Hoover, Ala.

When my partners and I were first thinking of names, we wanted something short, easy to pronounce, and catchy, and we also wanted to avoid using adjectives, which are so typical for salons. My girlfriend was pregnant at the time, and one day I was looking at baby names with her and we came across the name ‘Zaza.’ She said the name Zaza would be perfect and my initial reaction was, ‘For your baby girl — no way?!?’ But she laughed and told me she meant for my salon.

We looked at the definition and learned that in Hebrew it means ‘movement’ and in Arabic it means ‘flowery.’ This immediately sparked an interest and led me to incorporate a beautiful flower design into a draft of our logo.

- Zaza Nail Spa - Rachel Wong - San Francisco, Calif.

When I decided to open my salon, I wanted a strong name — one that would let everyone know it was a higher-end salon at the top of the Yellow Pages list.

I started by writing down a list of all the words that popped into my head. Then with the help of my mother and husband, I took that list and narrowed it down to words that sounded like good salon names, like Be Pampered and Creative Images.

While we were all bouncing names around, someone said ‘Be Polished, Creative Image,’ and someone else said ‘Polished Look.’ I then yelled out ‘A Polished Image.’

We all liked it, but we wanted to really be sure it would work. So I ran to the phone and pretended to answer an incoming call, ‘Hello, thank you for calling A Polished Image. This is Shannon, how can I help you?’ and the name worked!

- A Polished Image - Shannon Chomanczuk - New Windsor, N.Y.

I was thinking about kids and riddles, and I wanted the name of my new kid’s spa to be fun and playful, yet sophisticated and catchy. Then all at once, “La Di Da” turned into “Spa Di Da.” It hit me over the head like a brick.

- Spa Di Da - Maria Botham - West Hollywood, Calif.

I came up with the name Wet Paint while I was still in nail school. All of the shops in my area are called Princess Nails, or Queen’s Nails, or Rose’s Nails, and I thought that if I ever opened my own salon, I would name it something a little more original.

Wet Paint just came to me. I thought it would be good if every time someone saw a wet paint sign they would automatically think of my salon. This was years before I ever gave any serious consideration to actually opening my own place.

The day finally came when I could open a salon, and as I was building it, my family and friends all had ideas about the name. But I stuck to my guns, and was set on calling it Wet Paint Nails. Then I read an article that said high-end nail salons should use the word “spa” in their names to charge more for better services. So I added the word Spa to the end, and that’s how Wet Paint Nail Spa was born. And it turns out the name is pretty unforgettable. My clients love it just as much as I do!

- Wet Paint Nail Spa - Michelle Phoenix - Cambridge, Mass.

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

Read more about