We sat down with nail stylists Brenda and Janis to talk about nails, what you need to watch for when you get yours done and how they’re changing the nail salon business one ethical manicure at a time. You can talk to them all about your nails March 20th when Handcraft & Hart hosts them for our vegan, and chemically responsible manicure pop up with all organic, GMO free house made spa products! Book online! www.handcraftandhart.com
Handcraft & Hart: Hey! So lets get right to it. What do we need to watch out for when we get our nails done? How do we stay safe?
Janis: You do get right to it!! [laugh] Okay. Are the people working in the salon happy? Are they talking and engaging with you? If not get out, fast. It goes without saying you want to look to see that the place is clean and well kept but if the staff isn’t happy I guarantee you they aren’t making any extra effort to keep everything extra tidy.
Brenda: Think about whats in the air! Oh girl, we do not do acrylic nails. Janis still wants to have a baby, that stuff keeps a lot of nail stylists from having babies. You can still have all the bling without the poison!
H&H: Why vegan nails?
J: Vegans are amazing! In an industry [beauty] that doesn’t (with a few exceptions) protect it’s workers...
B: Have you seen the list of whats in nail polish, oh no! But we have all the good stuff, yes we do!
J: Vegans have gone to bat for chemically responsible products free of formaldehyde, DBP, Toluene and a bunch of other very bad stuff. Beauty workers every where should thank vegans for being consumers that demand responsibly crafted products. Nail salons that don’t exclusively use chemically responsible products are dangerous places, but imagine working in that gas chamber everyday.
H&H: People who don’t speak the staffs language always wonder what they’re talking about, do you know?
B: Oh my god, I can’t believe you asked that. YOU, [big laugh]. They're talking about you! No, not all the time, but wouldn’t you. Janis and I were talking about you earlier today and you had no idea, its fun. No, no, usually lunch. Most of the time it’s “where do you want to eat lunch?”
J: Brenda! At a good salon the nail stylist talks to the client not to the other people working there.
B: It's my favorite part of what I do. I love taking care of people. I’m a mother of three, I understand how important the little time we have to spend on ourselves is. I always want to make the best of that time for my clients.
J: If the staff doesn’t speak English or Cantonese I don’t mind if they don’t talk to me, but I can’t stand when they have full on conversations with other people they work with. Its rude.
H&H: Brenda, Janis asked me to ask that question. Okay! Moving on! Why did you start doing nails?
J: You’re blushing… Anyway I’m a trained pastry chef and cake decorator, I switched to nails because its all icing, all sugar. I’ve run trendy bakeries all over LA, and I was always supposed to go into business with my dad and open a bakery. Bakery hours are intense, you have production, staff and receipt development. One day I woke up and realized I hadn’t seen my boyfriend or family in weeks. I knew something had to change. My father is a veteran of the nail industry. He suggested I look at nails. I was like, yeah this makes sense, mini cakes i get to decorate on hands. Frosting for fashion, its wonderful!
B: I’ve done nails a few different times in my life, before I had children it was a job. Now I’m back because I love making my clients happy, I love learning from all these amazing people I might never have had the chance to meet otherwise.
J: Now that we’re in it we've realized there is a lot that needs to change, especially with labor practices. Kitchens have a hard time with this too but they’ve done a better job then nail salons. We need safe working conditions and products and ethical treatment for staff. We need to start by bringing all those wonderful clients back into nail salons that have walked away because they didn’t feel like nail salons were good places. Once salons see that there are clients that care about these things they’ll start to change. They just need someone to lead them, and so here we are. It’s not what I thought I was going to do with my life, but I guess we’re changing the nail salon business one ethical manicure at a time.
H&H: Anything else we should know?
J: A lot of the workers in the industry don’t have some very basic rights. Your mani pedi is so affordable for a reason, beyond poor quality products. Look at the salon you go to, how do you think the staff is being treated? How does it carry over to the client, do they greet you warmly, do you feel taken care of and safe? Do they smile? If so I bet you found a good spot! The people are probably being treated well! Stick with them!
B: If not, come see me on the 20th! Oh! If you bring your own tools please disinfect them… no girl I’m not having any of those dirty things! I spend an hour at the end of my day cleaning and disinfecting tools so each client has a fresh set of tools, don’t be bringing me your dirty clippers!
Janis and Brenda (Brenda, easily one of the most entertaining manicurists I’ve ever met) are preforming manicures at our March 20th pop up and Mani Pedis at our April 10th event. Book online to meet them and get some amazing nails. www.handcraftandhart.com