When did you know you wanted to do nails?
Ever since I was little I’ve always loved having my nails done. So, I would do all my friend’s nails and there was no such thing as going to the nail salon when I was younger. I think the first time I ever got my nails done was for my senior prom so yeah. Nowadays, we have a 2 year old that comes with her nanny every two weeks.
For me, I basically loved doing everybody’s nails and I’m really good at polishing. So that was like my whole thing, you know, and I didn’t actually get into it until 2008 when I went to nail school.
So nail school is separate from beauty school?
Yeah, so when you go to manicuring school it’s just to learn how to do nails and I went to Palace Beauty College in Koreatown.
Were you ever interested in beauty school or was it always just nails?
Just nails. I mean, I cut my hair with cuticle scissors so I’m not into that whole scene and it’s hard for me to want to get glammed up and all that, believe it or not, even though I love glitter. I’m one of those people who, it takes a lot to get me into a dress. I do however have a “no sweatpants” policy. Sweatpants basically mean you’ve given up on life. So, please don’t ever wear sweatpants around me or I’ll send you home.
After you graduated, what was your next step?
I definitely wanted to open up my own nail salon so I kinda recruited some of the girls and guys from my nail school and found a little location. I actually didn’t even finish nail school because I found the location and it was so good that I had to jump on it right away so I am technically a beauty school dropout. Not only am I a college dropout, but I’m a beauty school dropout.
But you’re so successful.
I know, therefore proving the fact that just because you went to school doesn’t mean you’ll be more successful than someone who did not.
When did you move to LA?
I moved to Los Angeles in 1999. I moved here when I was 20. I basically drove out in a Toyota Paseo and lived in it for almost 2 months.
Oh my gosh, why did you initially move?
I won a stand up comedy convention and basically was like, “I’m going to make it” and got all my shit together and drove out here. And basically lived in my car in the Bally’s Total Fitness parking lot. Which is now LA Fitness, I believe, and it’s across from where my new salon is, the one you guys came to. So, my office and two businesses look at the parking lot where I used to sleep in my car and take showers at the gym.
What was it like when you first moved here?
It wasn’t as bad as you would think. It’s just where I was in Hollywood was a shithole and now it’s kind of fancy so it’s kind of exciting, you know, that Hollywood has come along but it was definitely kind of grungy and a little seedy. But, you know, I made it work.
Was your first salon named The Painted Nail too? Or did that come later?
Actually, I had a business in October which was why I went to nail school. In October, I had a cart, you know those mall carts. I had one of those and it was called The Printed Nail and I had these nail printers there so you could actually print images on your nails.
It had a camera built in so you could basically take a picture of yourself and it prints on your nails in 10 seconds. We started to get such a high demand for the nail printers, I was like, “You know, we should have a salon.” And we were watching The Painted Veil one night and Walter was like, “You should just call it The Painted Nail” and that’s how it came about.
That’s a good story. So, I know you recommend going to school, but is there a different way to learn about nails?
You know, nail school is only 3 months so I would definitely say go to nail school so that way you learn the science behind nail health so that you know what you’re talking about. It’s not just polishing nails. There’s a whole skin and biology factor to it. Plus, there’s the business side of it and I think it’s good to be well-rounded. Anybody says they can open a nail salon, but I’ve seen them come and go so fast. Maybe because most of the owners don’t understand products and how long something can take and, you know, the science behind nails. It’s not just polishing nails. So yeah, I would say go to school and, if not, at least get the Milady standard books and become familiar with them.
What are some nail salon etiquette tips that people should know about?
I would always say bring cash because as with anything a cash tip is always so nice and don’t be one of those people who’s on your phone the whole time because it’s really obnoxious to other people and it’s hard for your nail tech to actually do your nails while you keep going back and forth with your hands and your phone. And, actually, phones are super dirty. Phones have more bacteria on them than public toilets so, you know, a nail tech has you wash your hands before you sit down or will clean your hands and if you keep touching your phone it defeats the purpose. Plus, a phone is bad to have. It can actually catch on fire because of the vapors from acrylic or acetone. It generates a static charge and there’s been stories where they’ve said people’s phones have actually blown up.
So, try not to be on your phone unless you’re getting a pedicure and you’re not one of those loud, obnoxious talkers.
What are the warning signs people should look for in nail salons?
Warning signs are you walk in and everything is dusty and dirty. If that’s what they show on the outside, if that’s what the public is seeing, there’s probably going to be issues with the way they clean their tools and clean their bowls. And you have the right to ask when the last time they’ve cleaned their pedicure bowls. You have the right to look at their pedicure log. So you can see when the last time they’ve cleaned their bowls is because that’s one of the number one ways people get fungus or bacterial infections.
I remember there being an onslaught of bacterial infections from nail salons in the early 2000s.
We still see it all the time. We literally see it all the time. It’s really gross, but there’s nothing we can do about it mainly because people are using the spa chairs so you know the ones where the water shoots through the jets? I say avoid those at all costs. Those are really just… put it this way, it’s a community foot jacuzzi. So if you’re willing to put your feet in that then there’s going to be a risk coming with that. There’s no need for it anymore. A pedicure isn’t spa jets; a pedicure is the nail technician who is performing the service. That’s where the pedicure comes in.
Catch Part 2 of our interview soon!