In the March/April 2014 issue of Nail It!, we turn the spotlight on new salon Bed of Nails, located in Harlem, New York, in our “Spotlight On” column. We visited the space and chatted with owner Candice Idehen about how she got her start and what makes Bed of Nails stand out from the salon crowd. What we found out: Idehen is one smart cookie we’d like to have our nails get in bed with. —Karie L. Frost
Nail It!: When did you start getting into nails? Was it during your time at Catholic school?
Candice Idehen: We were in uniforms all day and had no real way to express ourselves, so nails became a big thing for us as teens. When I later went away to the University of Maryland, there weren’t a lot of nail salons that had what I liked (nail art, selection of good polishes or brands, etc.). I came back to New York for the summer and couldn’t find a salon. My main manicurist had a baby and was moving around a lot, so it was too hard to keep up with her. When I went back to university, I needed a class to finish my semester. There was a random class that was open and it turned out to be a Black Studies class, so I took it. [The class] was Black Leaders and Entrepreneurship. Throughout the course, we had to create our own business and I thought, why not make a nail salon? I wanted to do something fun, something cool. By the end of the semester, I was like: This is kind of cool. I love doing research, I like getting my nails done and I always wanted to have my own business. Everything kind of fell into place. My last semester of undergrad, I went to nail school at night, got my nail license, and have been doing it ever since.
NI!: How did you come up with the items on your menu? I see the Fountain of Youth Signature Manicure includes an exclusive coconut lemon scrub, and you have a manicure specifically for dry hands and peeling cuticles.
CI: This is a mix of services I thought would be nice to enhance the skin. Hands are so important. It’s like you’re touching people, holding a wine glass, writing all day, on the computer all day, and your hands get so neglected. I just wanted to make sure that we offered services focusing on different things that people [usually] don’t realize, like maintenance for your cuticles and making sure you exfoliate and moisturize. Everyone’s No. 1 issue is, “My cuticles are peeling,” “I have hang nails” or “My hands are really dry!” You have to exfoliate. The skin on your hands is just like the skin on your body; if it’s not moisturized, it’s going to crack and peel. People spend so much time and money on skincare for the face; it’s like, your hands show your age, too!
NI!: So you have six manicure stations…
CI: Six manicure and six pedicure stations. We also are using the space as an event space, where we are going to do a lot of different things, and everything will be a play on the name “Bed of Nails.” We’re doing “Ladies Night in Bed,” which is the last Friday of the month where we are going to have jewelry launches and product launches. I also want to set up speed-dating, something really fun for the ladies. Tuesday and Thursdays are “Breakfast in Bed,” where we have mimosas with your service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The idea is it’s just a nice, relaxing place where you happen to do your nails.
NI!: That sounds like so much fun!
CI: A lot of salons, they can be a nice salon, but they still feel like an assembly line. I want [Bed of Nails] not to feel that way. We took a lot of time in making it not look like your typical nail salon. It’s been a long time coming. The [pedicure] chairs were a project getting here because they were custom-made and shipped from overseas, so they had to clear customs. But I am happy that I did that; they’re something different that you don’t typically see. [Editor’s note: The pedicure chairs are almost like thrones, with ultra-high backs and plush purple cushions. Each has a curtain around it that can be drawn-closed for more privacy or kept open—the option is the client’s.]
NI!: And the pedicure area has personal curtains.
CI: You can have a private service as well, so if didn’t want anyone to see you, you can just close the curtain. Or if you’re on a date and you want to be together, the two sides close so you can experience that. Sometimes, you just want to relax and don’t want to be bothered. You might have had a long day at work and could be like, “I just want to sit, be by myself, and experience the salon.” Maybe you just want someone to nicely massage your feet and not have to watch other people watch you. And if you don’t mind, you can keep it open.
NI!: Sounds very relaxing. Now, I have to ask since I see you’re wearing nail art: Are you offering nail art?
CI: Yeah, we’re really big into nail art. We’re doing nail art with everything, all services. It’s something we like to push. It’s fun and a way to express yourself.
NI!: You do a lot of editorial work as well. That must keep you on top of your game!
CI: That’s still what I love to do; I like the mix. Seeing everyday clients come in day-to-day and mixing trends and colors that I see in the industry with them, being able to talk to them about really cool people that I’ve worked with that they idolize. They don’t think those people experience things the same way they do. Christy Turlington, she’s one of my favorites because she’s such a down-to-earth person. The whole shoot [for Harper’s Bazaar magazine] she was worried about finishing in time so she could pick up her daughter. No one thinks that this huge supermodel is worried about picking up her daughter and goes running on the weekends. I love that.
NI!: What trends are you seeing for nails this spring?
CI: Honestly, I never even think about it, but white is always a hit. You always see that and it’s so chic. I think lately in the past couple years it’s become so popular. A year and a half ago, people would go, “Ew, white nails,” and now it’s everywhere and people love it. I think light yellows and lilacs are popular, not so much pink because I think it’s been done so much. Also, I love the accent nail. That’s still a hit. It’s still a trend; I call it the “party nail.” Nails are the perfect accessories.
NI!: Do you have a favorite white nail polish?
CI: There are two. Essie Blanc comes out full-coverage white in two coats and it’s not too streaky. Another white that is good is Deborah Lippmann’s Amazing Grace. Her polish doesn’t go on thick; it’s very fluid.
NI!: I love the name of your salon. How long did it take you to come up with it?
CI: It was during my Black Leaders and Entrepreneurship class. It just came to me one night when we had to brainstorm our names. I was like, why not “Bed of Nails?” For a while, some people were like, “Clients are going to actually think of a bed of nails.” And I was like, so what? At least it evokes something in people.
NI!: Are you going to do any client reward programs?
CI: We have a loyalty point program built into SpaBooker, so every dollar a month you spend adds to your loyalty points. Later on, we’re going to start offering memberships so you can pre-book 10 manicures a year and different levels of membership would give you first dibs on certain events, let you bring a “plus one” to them, and have access to giveaways. There are so many things out there to do, why not have fun in the nail salon?
NI!: Just curious: Who does your nails?
CI: I do my own. It relaxes me.
NI!: Are they gel?
CI: A combination. I use BioSculpture, Young Nails, Gelish, Artistic Colours. Here at the salon we use Artistic Colours, BioSculpture, and Young Nails. I feel like we can’t just use one system. We get a lot of information on the client and make sure that we’re using the best thing for them that will help their nails last. We do have a policy that says that if anything goes wrong with your nails within the week, you can come back and we can fix it for free. We want to make this an environment that you want to come back to. It’s not a one-night stand; it’s a relationship. Everything plays on the whole “Bed of Nails” concept.
[Images: Bed of Nails Salon/Candice Idehen]