"Yeah, our mom really likes Kendrick Lamar." This is the first thing Ginny Geer told me as I sat down for a manicure at Hey, Nice Nails! in Long Beach. The rapper was playing in the background while their mom planted succulents in a little garden outside of the store. Donne Geer sat down next to our station and began organizing what seemed like a multitude of glitter, studs and rhinestones in order to allow her sister to begin sculpting my gel extensions. There were shelves of colored bottles all around me. Ginny and Donne had aquired an extensive nail polish collection. Bottles from FLOSS GLOSS, Chanel, Tom Ford, Zoya, Butter London, and Deborah Lippman were all stacked neatly in rows and organized by brand. It was a nail polish lovers fantasy. "Everything is still coming together. We have plans to start a lending library," said Ginny as she brushed on a second layer of clear gel over each finger, slowiy building up my extensions. I told Ginny and Donne about my idea to do a pizza accent nail and they both smiled.
"Yeah, we've painted pizza nail art before." Clearly my idea wasn't as unique as I thought it was, but i wasn't discouraged.
"I really like your ombre paint job," I said to Ginny, nodding to the blue gradient wall at the back of the store.
"Thanks! That took us forever! This place was kind of a mess trying to get everything installed. Right now our lending library is temporarily our mom's potting station, but things are coming together. She really likes being involved with the studio." I looked over at Donne and Ginny's mom. Now she was inside planting more succulents in flower pots hanging in the window next to pink banners and floating red hearts.
"She really went all out decorating for Valentine's Day. We're going to plan some February specials too!"
"We're also working on some really exciting projects. Our book is almost done, but there's still a lot to do. We should show you some pictures!" added Ginny. This made me very excited.
The girls switched and Donne began painting my pizza and Alexander McQueen nail accents while Ginny went to go get her computer. She sat down showed me some of the tutorials they would include in their upcoming nail art book. As I watched, I couldn't help but feel like I was looking at something very special. It was clear that both sister had worked extremely hard on the project.
"We really love the sense of community on this street," Donne added. "It's like everyone's here to help eachother. Next week, we're doing a reading of a Grimm Brothers story called 'The Nail' for a community event. Everyone with a local business is reading a fairytale." I told them I had used to work on a little street called Sawtelle in West L.A. and how everyone took care of each other there. "That's what we want our studio to be like," explained Ginny. "We want it to be a place that helps build a community so that people who love nail art can come together." I looked down as she placed the last rhinestone on my, now, spiked thumb. We thanked eachother, hugs were exchanged, and we talked about future plans to see eachother again soon. As I left the studio and walked toward my car, I looked at my nails again. They were sparkling in the sunlight. Hey, Nice Nails! was not your average nail salon. It was a part of something bigger than rhinestones and studs. I had bought into Ginny and Donne's vision of a place that could act as one of the many focal points for growing nail art community in Los Angeles. I started my car and turned on Broadway, excited about where things were going.