When the warm weather hits, Vancouver’s vibe transforms into that of an urban oasis. Our streets are infiltrated by blinged-out beach cruisers and vintage rides with tops down, rolling slow past our plethora of sun-soaked patios (packed from morning til night, of course). Every beach bunny is out strutting the latest in stylish swimwear, and our street fashions jump from Westcoast casual to fresh, flirty and fun.
While many of us just can’t wait to ditch our cooler weather duds in lieu of summertime styles, the key seasonal beauty detail comes into play before the shopping begins. No matter how cute your fringe-trimmed sandals are, unkempt toes steal the show; the perfect mani/ pedi combo sets the stage for your Summer fashions to shine. Pretty nails are the ultimate Summer accessory.
A long-time gel nail fiend myself, I’ve spent what seems like forever on the hunt for a nail spa that offers the services I need (read: gel nails with shellac polish) in a great environment; I’m big on customer service and, as a designer, decor plays an important factor in my overall experience. However, it seems that when you find a pretty salon that appeases the eye, the price point is a bit of a killer to the wallet; on the flip side, affordable salons tend to be lacklustre when it comes to ambiance.
When I stumbled past a new little nail spa, Charm, while on a neighbourhood jaunt in Fraserview a few years back, I popped in with no expectations; I was super excited to see a salon in this neighbourhood (the Main Street corridor has always been the hot spot to find nail spas in the area) but wasn’t sure what I’d find once I walked in. I was totally blown away with what I saw: a fresh white space with chic black and white feature wallpaper, girly glitter accents like a hanging crystal room divider and statement chandelier, and stylish furnishings that somehow blend minimalist modern with feminine traditional decor.
I was warmly greeted immediately by a super stylish receptionist (seriously, she’s always got on a killer outfit that makes me want to dash home and put on something way more fabulous!) and when I inquired about services and pricing I couldn’t have been more impressed. Charm offers a full range of nail services for both natural and artificial nails, as well as a roster of waxing services. All at a reasonable price point! Naturally I booked an appointment and I’ve been ‘Charmed’ ever since. I stop in to let Rose work her magic on my nails every few weeks and I walk away with hands that attract compliments every time. My current colour crush – Bombshell – is by a new, Canadian gel polish line called Akzentz and is the best version of a neon pink shellac colour I’ve ever seen.
I chatted with Rose about how the concept for Charm all got started and she shared her vision from concept to its fabulous completion.
1. How long has Charm been in business? What made you choose to join the emerging Fraser neighbourhood?
Charm was established in 2012. The choice of opening within the Fraserview community was an easy one for us; since I first moved to Vancouver, I’ve always lived up and down Fraser Street. I’ve owned a salon before and, with my experience within that, I thought that Fraser would be best in terms of competition. Fraser has traditionally been the least sought after area according to many Nail Salon owners, but as a resident of the area I knew the potential. The bright corner unit of a new building was very attractive, so when our unit became available it seemed like an ideal fit.
2. Tell us a bit about yourself/ your team and how the concept behind Charm was formed?
I’ve been doing nails for over 10 years now. Honestly, learning to do nails began as a way to get out of the house, as I was a stay at home mom. I love doing creative things, and being quite artistic myself, I discovered that I could do nails quite well.
We are mostly a family business. Charm is owned by my brother but he has asked my to build the business for him, considering my success with my previous nail spa. My brother does not live here, so his daughter, Chau, his daughter, has stepped in and works with my in handling reception and all the things I’m too busy to do. As for the Charm team, they are all a mix of good friends and family; I really enjoy working with them and it keeps the environment fun and personal.
3. You have a super chic decor, graphic meets glitter. How did you pull together your design?
The salon is quite small so I decided to whitewash it to open up the space. White also acts as a good base to throw in different colours when we want to change it up. Of course the spa has to have a girly touch, too, so I added some glitter to give it sparkle – the crystal wall acts as a separation between the pedicure chairs from the main space, but adds the glam we were looking for. As for the pedicure chairs, we opted for the sinks because we thought it was most sanitary and it didn’t look as tacky as the all in one pedicure thrones at other salons.
4. What was the biggest challenge and biggest reward opening your own business in Vancouver?
My biggest challenge was finding employees willing to come and work on this area. Like I said, Fraser has previously been known as the least sought after location – the staff was concerned that we wouldn’t get the clientele to remain busy. Im glad they trusted my vision a it has definitely paid off. Of course, being head of my business is also rewarding. I decide everything! This all me and I express myself here. The clients in this area are the best I’ve worked with. Love this area!
5. What are your top services? For colours, which ones are reigning most popular in the city?
Top services would be Gel manicures (shellac). It’s the best thing that has come out for nails. Long lasting and beautiful shine, combined with zero drying time. It’s amazing.
The trendy colours range according to season but surprisingly our most popular colour to date is a soft, natural pinky white. It suits everyone and looks good for any weather and any occasion. Our top picks are “Faint Pink” and “Ballerina” by nobility. I don’t know how many bottles we’ve gone through. Countless!