Brooklyn-Based Salon Puts Nail Care First

Very Polished Nail Lounge provides clients with a whole nail experience by focusing first on the care of the nail and second on style.

<p>Modern spa pedicure stations add to the salon&rsquo;s upscale and chic image.</p>

A few years ago, friends Lannetta Hay and Anjaneth Aguirre noticed a lack of salons specializing in true nail care in Brooklyn, N.Y. So in November 2012, after months of searching for the perfect location in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area, they decided to open a salon dedicated to just that: nail care.

Aguirre, who has been a professional in the nail industry for the last five years, approached Hay about opening a nail salon that stood for more than just pretty nails. Hay, already a successful business manager running her own booking agency for shows overseas, believed in the mission. Together, the two of them created a space where clients could go for nails that are beautiful on the outside and healthy on the inside. The operational manager, Essence Clark, explains, “Of course, we love having beautiful nails but want to focus more on the care of our clients, making sure they understand how to care for their nails.”

 <p>The clean, bright aesthetic is what helps draw customers in.</p>

Top-Quality Care 

Proper nail care starts with great products and technique, including five-free products and natural oils for the scrub, made in-house. “We’re about nail care and about creating an experience for the client, as well,” says Hay. Aguirre and Hay noticed how often women would come to their salon with soft nails damaged by acrylics or rough, dry skin on their feet.

Very Polished Nails began offering specialty mani/pedis tailored to address certain care issues. The Strawberry Margarita service, for example, which infuses the scrub with real tequila, is perfect for those thick heel calluses. The Mango Mint Limeade service, which is the salon’s most modestly priced mani/pedi specialty, lets the client enjoy a shorter service while still receiving an exfoliating, hydrating, and fresh experience — with a complimentary mimosa in hand. Other specialty mani/pedi services include French Toast, Orange You Green, Me! Bath Sherbet, and a few seasonal services. Since these types of services vary, they also range in price and time — from $40 to $60, and from 30 minutes to over an hour — to fit every need.

Though nail care is the top priority for Very Polished Nails, Hay and Aguirre still love beautiful nails. Aguirre does freehand nail art for clients, the most popular of which is an Aztec design. She finds designs and inspiration from almost anything. She also takes client requests. Hay explains that one client showed Aguirre a picture of a painting and asked for matching nail art. Another client brought in a pair of high heels and asked for a design inspired by the shoes.

 <p>The salon is located in one of Brooklyn&rsquo;s trendiest areas.</p>

Going Rogue 

“What we noticed as we looked around different salons in Brooklyn is that when you walk in, you’d get hit with these really harsh chemical smells,” says Hay. “Plus no one was paying attention to the nails.” She explains that since the nail health was never the focus, women would remove their acrylics and they would have a fungus or the nail would be horribly damaged. Yet they still wanted longer nails.

As a solution, Hay and Aguirre selected Calgel, a calcium-infused gel that serves as a sculpture gel to help the nail grow and extend the nail beyond its natural length. “It’s not being damaged, it’s not getting soft, and you’re not pulling up the top layer of your nails,” says Hay. Calgel has become very popular in Manhattan but remains very exclusive in Brooklyn, as only one other salon in the area offers the service. But, as more and more families leave Manhattan and move to Brooklyn, the Calgel requests have become more frequent. “To stay in line with our mission and our philosophy this was the best option — the only option out there, really. If it’s not good for the nail, it’s not for us,” says Clark.

Very Polished Nails noticed that it can be difficult to convince women to move away from acrylics because, for a little while, they have to wear their nails at their natural length. “But once they try our gel enhancement service, they are hooked for life,” Hay says. Even Clark, who wore acrylics for 15 years, was convinced to move away from it. The salon is now being sought out for its nail care.

 <p>Freehand nail art is one of Very Polished Nail Lounge&rsquo;s specialties.</p>

On the Up and Up  

Though Very Polished Nails only opened a little over a year ago, the salon is making some big additions this spring and summer, and is even in conversation about potentially opening a location in Southern California. Hay and Aguirre are able to regularly maintain five nail techs, adding an additional one or two in the warmer months to keep up with demand. Plus, with 900 square feet of salon space, Very Polished Nail Lounge offers clients a special spring and summertime mani/pedi service — with a complimentary cocktail — to be done in the large Zen garden attached to the salon.

The bright, fresh salon is home to one treatment room where clients can receive waxing or massage, but Hay and Aguirre are looking to expand that single room into two. With this additional space, they will be able to add a facial treatment to their list of services.

Clark explains that the Bedford-Stuyvesant area has drastically changed in recent years and they chose the location because not only were there no upscale salons, but also because it was gentrifying. It is extremely trendy with quaint boutiques and restaurants, and very busy due to its close proximity to the Barclays Center. With all of this traffic, in addition to its popularity, the salon’s location has provided Very Polished Nails with an expansive clientele. Most customers are working professionals, 25 and over — women with families and people with their first jobs. Males make up about 30% of the salon’s business, receiving both weekly mani/pedis and waxing services.

Very Polished Nail Lounge is always seeking nail techs who are in line with the salon’s mission and will support its ideology. The employees are always encouraged to speak up about ideas and issues alike, because the owners really feel that the salon’s success is theirs and vice versa. On top of free mani/pedi and waxing services, Hay, Aguirre, and Clark like to award employees for outstanding sales and commitment to the salon. Clark says, “We love telling our people, ‘job well done.’”

 <p>Anjaneth Aguirre and Lannetta Hay opened Very Polished Nails in 2012.</p>

Quick Look

Salon Name: Very Polished Nail Lounge

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Owner: Anjaneth Aguirre and Lannetta Hay

Square Footage: 1,800

Opened: 2012

Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 5/10

Compensation: Commission


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