Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pedicure Progress

 I believe, back before I broke my wrist and spent nearly 10 weeks away from my salon, that I was keeping everyone informed on the progress of the (longer than anticipated) salon remodel project and pedicure expansion. Right?

In 20 years of doing nails, I have spent a lot of time trying to envision my perfect pedicure set up.

Ideally, I would love to have a fully articulating esthetician's chair. Kinda like a dentist chair-- you could lay back as far as you wanted and totally relax while I had fancy controls to raise and lower the chair as I need.

Since I've used a "dry" pedicure method since the late 1990's, this would have worked wonderfully for pedicures without anyone worrying about a foot bath.

However, as it turned out, pedicures have never been my bread-and-butter service. Which is not to suggest that I don't touch my share of tootsies! Oh no! It's just that I live (and work) in an area where people wear flip flops all year round-- which seems stupid, really, since I don't live in southern California where the cold weather might mean it's 9 a.m. before it gets into the 70's.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of folks in Visalia who have their toes on display year-round. So I do a lot of toenail enhancement services: acrylics, gels, rockstar, etc.

This changes what "perfect" is when it comes to a set up for working on toe nails. Since I am working on the nails more than I'm working on the feet.

And since I hope to still be nailing the town when I'm in my late 60's, it's important to come up with a solution that won't leave me dependent on Advil to stand up straight at the end of the day.

I have been racking my brain for the last 10 years, trying to get the plans just right. Because once you invest in building something like this, it's hard to make major changes later.

Then there was a brief period of time when I went back to booth rental in someone else's salon, which meant I didn't have the space or the authority to add such a massive piece of furniture to the decor.

Since moving into my current location, I've been trying to figure out how I could work my idea into the 200 square foot suite I occupy on the 4th floor of the Bank of Sierra building downtown.

I actually had just about figured out an acceptable plan that wouldn't leave us feeling too cramped, when the neighboring office became available.

Which left me in a bit of a dilemma: I really wanted to rent it. I wanted to rent it, have a passage way cut through the wall and create a genuine pedicure room.

On the other hand, doubling my rent didn't make financial sense.

In the long run, I was saved by the hoarding instincts of one of my most cherished neighbors here on the 4th floor, who agreed to split the suite with me.

So the construction began in April (2012) and we spent several weeks buried under fine red dust from the brick walls that had to be cut through to create my passageway to the new room.

The room was divided in two, with an eight foot by 11 foot section becoming the pedicure room, open to the main salon but cut off from the rest of the original suite by an 8 foot wall that still allows air circulation for heat and air.

The rest of the suite remains accessible from the hall way and now houses a refrigerator, a utility sink, and many, many, many shelves and boxes.

Once the room was finished, I found myself a little behind schedule in finding a skilled and reliable carpenter who could bring my vision to life. I met a lot of men who scratched their heads and ultimately said they didn't think they could do what I wanted.

Which seems weird, seeing as how it's basically just a big box. Sure, I'd love to have it all filled with secret compartments for sly storage and stuff, but I realized quickly that it was challenging enough for these guys just to understand the initial concept.

I got lucky again, when a client declared that her hubby was a miraculous carpenter and could "build anything."

I still met with a lot of head scratching, but Paul finally just took my drawings and my measurements and got to work. Even though both his wife and his step-daughter repeatedly reported that he wasn't exactly sure what it was he was doing.

Well. It came out stunning. He brought all the pieces into the salon and put it all together inside the room. He left it naked so that I could decide how I wanted it finished-- in the long run, the BF and I decided on dark stain that would match the old-fashioned cabinetry that's already common in the building.

This is a pedicure bench. They've become quite popular in many salons through out the world. Usually, they are plumbed, with foot baths on that lower platform. However, aside from the logistical nightmares of running plumbing through the walls and into the unit, I prefer to do waterless pedicures. They're cleaner, simpler, and require less challenging disinfection procedures; I promise to post a full story about the method in the future. I also need that platform space for doing enhancement services, so much easier when clients have a place to rest their feet naturally.

Of course; once the whole thing was put into place, there are a few minor things I wish I would have done differently and a few modifications I'll be making in the future. But, mostly, I'm very happy with it and so are my clients.

Now: you can see in this picture that it still needs some upholstery work done. This would be done now if I hadn't busted my wrist and spent all my money on medical bills. The bench is actually surprisingly comfortable without cushions-- to me and my 5 year old niece anyway.

Soon, the bench seat will get cushions and the wall behind the bench with also get cushioned. It'll be more like sitting in a booth at a restaurant than like sitting on a picnic table at the park.

It is high. This gets the work area up to my level so I neither have to sit on an extremely low stool nor stoop over with my head between my knees like Schroeder playing his piano to reach the toenails I'm working so diligently on beautifying.

It also gives the client a great view of downtown Visalia from their throne-like perspective.

You can see I had it built to seat two-- when you commission a project like this, you think ahead! You can bring a friend to hang out with you, I might hire an assistant someday, or I could double up and easily move back and forth between clients if your friend decides on a service of her own. Believe me, I thought of these things in advance!

What I didn't prepare for was how long the whole project was going to end up taking-- especially with the set back of the broken wrist. So pedicures are not on the menu yet. I still have to get the upholstery and the foot rests added, and then I have to decide on which hot towel cabinet I'm going to settle on.

My regulars have been more than willing to enjoy the new bench, but I'm hesitant to invite new visitors in, only to introduce them to an unfinished project... that seems tacky.

But I do want to let everyone know what the current state of progress is and what it looks like now. And hopefully, I've given you some idea of how the bench works.

I'm looking forward to posting a run through of how the waterless pedicure works as soon as the finishing touches have been added!

Should be just in time for sandal season-- if you're one of the few people who actually put your sandals away in the winter!