On the Road: The Nail Lounge, Costa Mesa, Calif.

"Cabana" boys and girls take care of the normal grunt work enabling the techs to focus solely on their client and perform top-notch services.

<p>The cleaning and presentation of the pedicure and manicure areas are performed by preppers, who are paid minimum wage and given a portion of the tips for their work.</p>

As the new associate editor, I was recently introduced to the most difficult aspect of my job. Executive editor Hannah Lee forced me to go with her to The Nail Lounge, a new salon in Orange County, for my first On the Road assignment.

I can’t believe she actually expected me to sit in a cushy chair while someone massaged my legs and feet before placing the perfect polish upon my toenails. But, I gave in. It is part of my job. (The things I do in the name of journalism!)

When we arrived at The Nail Lounge, we were greeted by a perky receptionist in a white tank top with the salon’s logo emblazoned in pink, orange, and blue. She asked how we were before handing us a “sushi” menu. On the a la carte menu, we filled out our personal information along with our preferences for the upcoming services. It directed us to mark how we wanted our nails, cuticles, and massages. I picked “heavy-duty” for the massage. The next choice was product scent; I quickly chose cool citrus basil for its refreshing fragrance.

<p>Rhonda Taylor (left) had worked as a celebrity nail tech before joining nine other techs at The Nail Lounge. She worked on executive editor Hannah Lee while Daniel Thompson (right) executed my first on the- job pedicure.</p>

Soon, a man came up and introduced himself as “Daniel, and I’ll be giving you your pedicure.”At first glance, this nail technician with carpenter jeans and athletic shoes seemed a bit out of place in a room of bright blue walls, pink party retail items, and bags that said “Cabana Boy Wanted.”After he got to work, however, it was clear he belonged there, and when it came time for the massage, I was glad I hadn’t been a wimp when selecting from the menu.

His talents were obvious to me and everyone observing (I think Hannah was a little jealous), but that’s why he’s at The Nail Lounge. Owner Cassie Piasecki opened it after she became frustrated with area salons. Her husband asked, “Why don’t you stop complaining and open your own?” So she did.

Wanting the best technicians, Piasecki scoured the greater- Los Angeles area and didn’t discriminate on the basis of employment preferences; The Nail Lounge is staffed with both independent contractors and employees.

<p>Originally an aerobics instructor, owner Cassie Piasecki is at the salon every day now.</p>

Garnering some of the area’s best came a bit easier for Piasecki when she told them of the preppers. These striking “cabana” boys and girls wear peppy pink shirts and take care of all the normal grunt work. They carry the water (which was poured into Belava plastic pedicure tubs with disposable liners), get the carts ready, restock items, and clean and sterilize implements in an autoclave before placing them in heat-seal pouches. This allows the nail techs to focus solely on their clients and perform top-notch services.

Hannah and I left the natural-only nail salon impressed by its cleanliness and presentation. I glanced down at my newly opalescent toenails and thought, “Hannah Lee sure is a slave driver!” I don’t know how long I can handle work like this.

<p>The front of the salon is full of retail items: flip-flops, bags, bath products, polish, The Bad Girl’s Guide items, and many others. <strong></strong></p> <p> </p>

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