Salon Spotlight: Cute Nail Studio
At OPI we believe that Color is the Answer, not only for our nails, but for the ways we show up and express ourselves regardless of gender roles, social status, or feeling the need to "fit in." This month, in honor of Pride, we’re thrilled to share the story behind one of the most color-forward and LGBTQIA+ empowering salons out there, Cute Nail Studio of Austin, Texas.
They've created 3 exclusive nail art looks using OPI colors for you to wear with pride. Stay tuned each week to get step by step tips to recreate each look. This week we chatted with one half of the salon owning duo, Jason, about how @cutenailstudio got their start, how their salon has become a safe haven for the LBQTIA+ community, and more.
We're so excited to learn more Cute Nail Studio! Can you please tell us a little about who you are and how you got your start?
I'm Jason Darling. My wife, Maria, and I have been romantic and business partners for almost ten years now, and we'd always wanted a nail salon. We met at a local swimming hole when Maria complimented my nails (I was wearing "Katy Perry Crackle!" by OPI) and I offered to paint hers on the spot. So, nails and nail art hold a special place in our hearts.
As for our roles as owners, I always say that I'm more the enthusiastic mascot and she's the actual brains of the operation.
You instantly connected over OPI polish! That's so magical. Can you tell us a bit about how being a color-forward salon positively impacted your community?
The area of Austin that we are in is gentrifying at a rapid pace, and the overwhelming color of this gentrification is the same as that of gentrification everywhere: beige.
It seems that the more "modern" an area becomes the less personality and eccentricity it has. While this has the effect of making a place seem "safe" to the types of people who populate mass gentrification, we feel that safety (at least in terms of blandness) is a type of death.
Well, your salon definitely reminds everyone that Color is the Answer. Can you tell us more about how your salon has become an LGBTQIA+ safe space and why that's important to you?
We consider ourselves an LGBTQIA+ safe space, and our ethos is that everyone's personal definition of beauty is the correct definition and that every man and every woman is a star.
In every interview with every potential applicant for every position at our salon we make it overwhelmingly clear not just that we won't allow for hate speech in general, but that our doors are open to a community of gay, trans, and non-binary peoples who I want to be able to come in and just comfortably be themselves.
I don't want my clients feeling as though it's their job to educate anyone or justify anything- I want them to come in and have fun and leave feeling like they had a moment they could safely and casually be themselves, whatever that identity is to them.
It's important to us because it IS important. Everyone should always get to be a free, fierce individual with no fear of violence or nastiness- but we don't live in a world where that's the case, and as a result of that it's important that we loudly announce that our place of business is a safe space. In our salon, love is the law.
We agree, inclusion is more important now than ever! Is that why you decided to paint your salon in rainbow colors?
Both Maria and I are born and raised Austinites and have a love for this city that goes back to when it was multicultural and bright and full of the weirdness that it still likes to brag about having had in its "Keep Austin Weird" bumper stickers. Our bright rainbow in the middle of a wasteland of beige is our little protest. It’s a glitter and glam counterpoint to the creeping sameness, and I like to think we give hope to the outsiders that still populate our town.
Can whimsy take down the establishment? Probably not. But it's super fun to try.
It's so inspiring the way you've been able to use your salon as a force for equality, self-expression, and celebrating all forms of beauty. So tell us, what is a typical day like at Cute Nail Studio?
By and large, our salon is a chill place to hang out with a staff that is funny and close with one another, and that sense of camaraderie bleeds into our clientele and that just makes the whole thing a great scene.
We're open late, 10am-10pm, and as the night kicks in our salon gets more and more energized, and we are all the way here for that. We offer tiny tattoos as a permanent impulse add-on to our services, and nothing really gets people's blood moving (both literally & figuratively!) as impulse tattoos as a precursor to nightlife.
We're a pretty fun "do what thou wilt" kind of place. You should come hang out with us.
*Books flight to Texas* Okay so, what do you think is the "next big thing" in nail art?
Us. We're only a year old. We've barely arrived.
Cheers to that. We can't wait to watch you grow! Okay, last question. If you had to wear one OPI shade for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Katy Perry Black Crackle