Grateful salon owner thanks community for her success
Thanks to Covid-19 it’s been a tough year for Denae Simmons – but on Saturday she’s celebrating.
The salon owner is asking past and present clients to stop by Colour Art Nails, where she will be handing out food and freebies as a way of showing her appreciation.
Passers-by are equally welcome.
“After Covid everybody’s been through a lot,” said Ms Simmons. “I have loyal clients who have been with me from the days when I was working in my little studio at home. I really just wanted to give back to them. It’s just a little drive-by. You don’t have to go through the whole awkward stand around and eat your food, make conversation with people. It’s simply come on by, honk at us, take a picture with our little balloon wall if you want. Grab some food, some treats, get some giveaways while you’re at it.
“And it’s not just clients who are invited. It’s anyone. If you’re just driving by feel free to stop. We’ll give you a plate of food and we’ll give you a little giveaway or something just so that you can feel involved.”
Colour Art Nails was initially located in Southampton. In 2019, while having her nails done, a client said she was looking to fill commercial space in Hamilton. Ms Simmons decided to take a look and was taken in by the property and the 700 square feet she would have to play with.
“I was always interested in getting a larger space,” she said. “It’s very hard finding commercial spaces for nail salons and restaurants because of the health requirements; the things you need to do. You can’t just open up a salon anywhere. Not having proper ventilation and things like that can be a huge problem.”
She moved to Union Street late in 2019 – and then learnt of Covid-19. From the outset the salon owner understood the impact it would have on her business.
“When I read about Covid pretty much spreading rapidly around the world I kind of saw it hitting Bermuda and that’s when I decided to close the Southampton location,” she said. “I talked to a few other entrepreneurs and they were saying they were in the process of downsizing, of moving around and changing and [I realised] it made sense.
“If Covid’s going to hit Bermuda, if we’re going to be impacted by it then it doesn’t make sense to have two salons at once.”
She took a gamble, closed down the Southampton salon and put all her energy into the new, larger space.
“I’m so glad I did,” Ms Simmons said. “Although it was a bit of a struggle last year keeping things afloat, being shut down for months at a time.
“There’s no school in Bermuda for nail technicians, there’s no certifications here, nobody could really fly out to get a certification and so I found myself training my own staff which is working out great now, but last year [as Bermuda was opening up] and you have students working with you, and you’re trying to keep up the clientele yourself … it was a bit of a struggle. But it paid off in the long run.”
Renovations she started at the beginning of this year are now complete. Ms Simmons upgraded the ventilation system and improved the whirlpool spas at Colour Art Nails; there are manicure tables, a receptionist area and a receptionist.
She’s grateful for the “continued support” of her family, staff, clients and friends such as Shinee Blackman, who sold Ms Simmons the furnishings from her spa Bella Bella when it closed last year, and her “mentor and educator” Keona Smith.
“Now we’re fully operational. Things are really kind of looking up. Our larger location is actually perfect because [it allows better] social distancing, it’s nice that the clients are not jam-packed in a small environment. It’s so much more than it used to be.
“The clients that have been there will completely understand the growth. They have been really patient with me and where I’m trying to go with my salon and what I eventually want to have, because it doesn’t end here. I want to have a larger space, more staff and be more accommodating to clients.”
At the moment she has three staff members working with her at Colour Art Nails and is in the process of hiring more.
“The demand is high,” she said. “I was eager to see what it would be like after Covid, but when it comes to personal care I think people always like to put themselves first. The beauty industry will never go anywhere because people love to have themselves pampered. It makes them feel good.”
As a teenager, Ms Simmons enjoyed painting and clothing design but understood that, as careers, they weren’t “a realistic fit for someone living in Bermuda”.
“I’ve always known that I wanted a career that had something to do with style or fashion,” she said. “I’m an artist at heart. I didn’t want to be like my friends who spent ten years in school and are unhappy with what they do. I didn’t want a nine to five. I didn’t want a computer job. I knew I needed to be on the go, on my feet. I packed groceries when I was 12; I’ve worked in retail since I was 15 years old. I like talking to people, I love customer service.
“Years ago I went to a friend who did some art on my nails. It was something I had never seen before and I figured it was kind of where my market could be, that I could actually make a living and do something that I’m passionate about.”
With help from her parents, Derek and Nan Simmons, she enrolled at the Bermuda College for a nail technology course.
“They hosted a programme for two years and I managed to catch the very last year,” she said. “Unfortunately they don’t offer that programme any more. I was in the last class. So I got lucky.”
Once she started working she took classes online and honed her skills at trade shows and through private courses in the US.
“This industry’s always changing so I try to earn at least ten or more certifications every single year,” Ms Simmons said. “My parents invested in me to go to school, they invested in my salon. I had to earn that. I didn’t come from a family household that just handed me money. We just didn’t have that so I had to make sure that if I had something they did invest in I was going to stick with it.”
Having worked for other salons she knew exactly what was important for her business to be successful.
“My standard wasn’t their standard; my standards are a lot higher than what you would see in most salons in Bermuda. My designs are more elaborate. You won’t see them too much at other salons here. I knew I had to create my own environment so I wasn’t a hinder to someone else’s brand.”
Follow Colour Art Nails on Facebook and Instagram: @colourartnails.beauty. Book an appointment on 296-6245 or online, phorest.com/book/salons/colourartnails. The salon will hold a client appreciation drive-by event on Saturday from 12pm until 2pm at 4 Union Street, Hamilton
Just as with fashion, nail trends are always changing. Colour Art Nails owner Denae Simmons specialises in crystals and hand-painted nail art from her salon on Union Street.
Marbling is big at the moment and acrylic nails are “always a trend”, she said.
“I think more people are gravitating towards gel polish versus regular polish which we technically call that lacquer polish.
“Lacquer polish is a thing of the past. Nobody wants to wait. Everybody wants that instant dry – I can go and do laundry and wash dishes right after I get my nails done without them getting smudged.”
Both glitter and encapsulated nail art are often requested by her clients. Meanwhile coffin and almond are popular shapes.
“We don’t see people getting square nails too much any more. You see them getting more fancier shapes.”