On the Road: Illusions Nail Studio, Johnson City, Tenn.

In historic Johnson City go down "Beauty Alley", where each beauty business complements the services next door, and you will find Illusions Nail Studio. 

<p>Thomi Alexander and Wendy Allen opened Illusions Nail Studio on

Illusions Nail Studio owners Thomasina (Thomi) Alexander and Wendy Allen call their location in historic downtown Johnson City “beauty alley” because of its two hair salons, two barber shops, and a massage therapist all in a row with each business complementing the services next door. Wendy’s uncle owns one of the barber shops, and Thomi’s mother owns a restaurant down the street giving “beauty alley” a homey atmosphere.

Good business sense must run in the family. Every first Friday of the month all the shops and salons block off the alley and have an “open house” with refreshments and complimentary services.

<p>Thomi, Wendy, and I pose in front of their nail art

As soon as I entered Illusions, I was warmly greeted by Thomi and Wendy, and a wonderful fragrance wafting through the air. The owners graduated from Tri-City Beauty College in Johnson City and both have over a decade of experience in nail artistry, which is plain to see when you look at their nail art “wall of fame.” Their free-hand art is simply exquisite and it’s easy to understand why it’s their specialty.

<p>Wendy worked her magic on my natural nails.</p>

My first service was a manicure with Wendy. The studio is very cozy with brick interior walls and floors, warm colors, lots of iron and glass, and large oak workstations with oversized cone-shaped Chinese lanterns hanging above. I settled in and prayed for the hand massage never to end! Thomi and Wendy have carefully mixed their own custom-blended product with homeopathic ingredients for their massages, and it is heavenly. I’m not quite sure what all the ingredients are, but I am sure I smelled brown sugar. When Wendy finished the manicure my natural nails were perfectly even and shiny as glass, and my skin felt soft and exfoliated.

<p>This is one example of Wendy's nail art.</p>

Next, I was on to the pedicure throne! Thomi and Wendy have had their pedicure stations custom-made with cream-colored tiles, deluxe massage chairs, and spotless stainless steel bowls that told me they are clean and professional. As my feet were immersed in a concoction of bubbles and menthol, I confessed to Thomi that I had worked on my feet the night before. She said she understood: kind of like cleaning your house before the housekeeper arrives! With a clean conscience, I sat back to relax and enjoy the service. When it was time to leave my feet and nails looked fabulous, and I was pleasantly surprised by the modest price I was charged.

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