Texas is simultaneously envied and bad-mouthed for its hearty helping of state pride. With catchphrases like “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and “Don’t mess with Texas,” the Lone Star state has established itself as a force to be reckoned with. Scaredy cat at heart, I felt the best way to handle the Southwestern state was to enlist the aid of a local. Lucky for me, I had at least two people to call on (there’s strength in numbers, right?): my sister and her husband live in Baytown, Texas, a little suburb about 40 minutes outside of Houston.

Having seen many of the big-city Houston sites before, like The Galleria mall and the Space Center, we were thrilled to use the weekend to explore Baytown and the surrounding areas. We rode the amusement park-style rides on the Kemah Boardwalk and wound down with a nice meal at the Aquarium Restaurant. But I, of course, wanted to find out about the local salon flavour as well. My sister directed me to Skoogies Salon & Spa in Baytown, just down the street from her apartment.

Upon entering Skoogies, I was greeted by cosmetologist Marisa Morales, who’d be performing my nail service. Marisa instantly placed a heated neck wrap around my collar, a welcoming technique the salon recently started implementing to “get clients in the zone for relaxation.”

Even though Skoogies is a full-service salon, nails are certainly not ignored. The salon features three manicure stations, and two (side-by-side) pedicure basins. It also offers several different levels of nail services; I opted for the “full spectrum spa pedicure,” which included a scrub and a mask.

As she gave me the pedicure, Marisa talked about how Skoogies is trying to “take Baytownians to a Houston level.” Compared to other salons she’s worked in, Marisa said Skoogies focuses on creating a personal experience with each customer, providing one-on-one time and an unhurried experience. She too is trying to elevate her level of knowledge. A licensed cosmetologist who does nails and hair for Skoogies, she’s hoping to eventually earn her massage license as well.

After the great pedicure, salon manager Michelle Villarreal gave me a tour. Anthony Skoog, the salon owner (and person who the salon is named after), was out of town at a continuing education workshop. Anthony’s presence, however, was everywhere. He decorated the majority of the salon himself, Michelle told me, from the pillow padding on various walls to what he calls the “twinkle lights,” the white Christmas-style lights that hang from the ceiling of the pedicure room. To keep the look fresh, Anthony is constantly rearranging the salon. (Of course, there was also the “forced rearranging” of a few years ago, when a driver jumped the curb and accidentally parked inside the salon. But that’s a story of Skoogies’ legend best told directly by a Skoogies’ employee.)

Michelle also clued me in to the salon’s expansion plans. (What was that about everything being bigger in Texas?) By the end of the year, Skoogies hopes to either expand its current location or move to a new, larger location. It’s almost like the salon is saying, ‘Don’t mess with Skoogies’, and I’d have to agree.

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