December 2013

Nail Bar: A new experience In nail care

Author: Rebecca Edwards

Nail Bar is not your typical nail salon, and owner Jason Nguyen is not your average nail salon owner. Pointing to the back wall of his serene space in Bluffton Commons near Westbury Park, he reads the following quote from the wall: “Welcome… may all who enter as guests leave as friends.” Nguyen is heartfelt, courteous and venturing to change the way you experience a manicure or pedicure.

“My family moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Vietnam in 1991 and started a nail business. I’ve grown up in this industry, and I wanted to offer something different than anything else in the area,” Nguyen said. “So I created this comfortable place where you can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine, champagne or other beverage like water, soda, coffee or green tea. I want my clients to truly feel relaxed. That’s why we play tranquil music, rather than blasting the news on TV.” (Note: In the background Enya is playing like a siren song to get pampered, and I watch enviously as one woman blissfully closes her eyes as she gets a leg massage.)

Nguyen admits that sanitation is “of the utmost importance.” All pedicure basins are kept clean with disposable liners and all implements are sanitized in a sterilizer. Yet, Nguyen’s core concept of “treating his customer like a friend rather than a number” also ranks paramount. To that end, he has trained his staff to engage with their “guests,” generate conversations and “cultivate a relationship.”

As Nguyen describes his business vision I am struck with a memory of a Seinfeld episode in which Elaine goes to a nail salon and is mocked relentlessly. I am also reminded of nail salons I have visited in which the technicians seemed unaware I was even attached to the feet they were so hurryingly honing. And chances are you have had a similar experience elsewhere, making Nguyen’s hospitality all the more refreshing and appealing.

As I scan Nail Bar from a manicure station, I see Nguyen’s plan is taking shape. Two women who are getting pedicures joke with one of the nail pros about a television show, and another bursts out, “I’m just so glad to have a break from my kids!”

Nguyen laughs and then seems pensive for a minute before saying, “I am constantly thinking of ways to set us apart from other salons. I don’t worry about our competition, because when you worry about competition you fall behind thinking about the client. But I do want to make sure we are always being innovative and not becoming obsolete.”

Since opening eight months ago, Nguyen has some exciting plans for phase two of Nail Bar. Ideas include a point program, a couple’s night or mother-daughter night in which Nguyen would offer after-hours services and a special activity like a movie on his 96-inch movie screen. Nguyen is also a big believer in giving back to his community and donates to several local charities. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, he recently hosted an evening in which a percentage of the proceeds went to Beaufort Memorial Hospital. He has also provided a special benefit for May River Montessori. He says he would like to partner with more and if anyone has a charity to feel free to contact him.

“I want people to be able to reflect on something positive,” said Nguyen, who thinks it is important to provide an outlet for people to escape from everyday stressors. Other quotes on the walls read, “Dance as though no one is watching”; “Love as though you’ve never been hurt”; “Sing as though no one can hear you,”; “Live as though heaven is on earth”; and “Life is not measured by the breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.” On another wall is a peaceful photo of a sunset in Vietnam. Seeing me eye the picture, and once again embodying the gracious host, Nguyen said, “I wanted to share the comforts of my native home with clients with an image of coconut trees and tiki huts.”
Nail Bar regulars Marianne Morgantini and Judy Storey attest to Nguyen’s hard work. Both have been customers for several years and are excited about the new space. “I go every two weeks for my nails and every three to four weeks for feet. I always feel so attended to and come out feeling like such a lady,” exclaimed Morgantini, who admits past places she tried felt like a factory rather than a salon.

“I go every two weeks, early Saturday morning. It’s great when it works out that my daughter or friend can come and we drink coffee and have fun. Jason is not just my manicurist or pedicurist; he knows my family, he’s intelligent, he’s enjoyable and his salon is tiptop clean. He is sincerely interested in his clientele,” said Storey, who is also excited about watching Nail Bar continue to expand and succeed.

Services include:
Nail enhancements: acrylic, UV gel powder, liquid gel, Pink & White, and Shellac gel polish
Six signature manicure and pedicure services

Additional services: take off, nail repair, nail art, French or American, and polish change for hands and/or feet

Waxing: eyebrows, lip, chin, full face, back, chest, stomach, underarms, half and full arms, and half and full legs

Packages: Bridal parties of eight or more get one complimentary service

Nail Bar is open Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are recommended. To learn more about Nail Bar, please visit on Facebook at TheNailBarSC or call (843) 815-8022 for appointments.

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