Business Management

On the Road in Honolulu

Known for its namesake’s successful hairdressing career, the Paul Brown Salon is home to some of the best nail techs on the island.

On a recent trip to visit a place I used to call home – the island of Oahu, Hawaii – I stopped in at the famed Paul Brown salon. Known for its namesake’s successful hairdressing career, it’s also home to some of the best nail techs on the island. Getting an appointment is not easy feat. On the day of my visit, Nicole Christian, a nail tech for the past seven years, squeezed me in for a pedicure. She says most days, she doesn’t even have time for a break. Not only did this talented tech exude what’s known as “aloha spirit” by making me feel so welcome, she also exuded professionalism.

We immediately started chatting, me asking her tons of questions about the salon and her asking me what it’s like being a magazine editor. (As she’s massaging my feet, it’s good.) It turns out she’s been at the salon for a year-and-a-half. She says she likes working at Paul Brown because of its clientele. The majority of the patrons are loyal locals who have been going to the posh salon for years. She also says it isn’t often that an opening arise for nail techs at the salon – she’s the newest member of the four –person-team. The women are so booked, it’s only every few months that they can take on one of the eagerly awaiting new clients who call every week in hopes of cancellation. And tourist can forget it –Nicole says they don’t see too many since the salon is located in an out-of-the-way mall, tucked away next to a few select boutiques.

Since the salon is so well known to locals throughout the island, Nicole says they never have to worry about competition. Once the kitsch capital of the Pacific, Honolulu has grown into an urban paradise with a singular style – a combination of East, West, and Polynesia that is loosely defined as “local.” But local need not be rural. The city’s restaurant s are on the cutting edge of Pacific cuisine, and the arts scene has blossomed in the past two years, thanks to a growing revival of Hawaii culture. With a population of close to 900,000 – plus more than 35,000 tourism daily – Honolulu has the cosmopolitan potential, but remains a small-town feel. Insiders’ tastes favor lesser-known places, with a few classic thrown in for good measure. Which is why Nicole and the other nail techs at Paul Brown will continue to doe out impeccable service without complaint of no breaks – and “love every minute of it,” as she says with a smile.  

[Top] nail tables are set up in a room facing the beach so clients get a refreshing view of the island’s scenery. [Bottom] I’m all smiles as Nicole gets ready to work on me. The pedicure room is private and tucked away from the rest of the salon and spa. It really gave us a chance to talk with no interruptions.



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