Bitch Biz: nailsaloon and Bitches Who Brunch are partners. While this article was written independently by Bitches Who Brunch, we do receive compensation from the company.
Andrea Viera and Claudia Diamante stepped out of their respective careers to make their dream of the perfect nail salon a reality. The finished product, the nailsaloon is about as close to perfection as you can get. Located on 14th Street, the saloon offers top-notch manicure, pedicure, and waxing services, and also serves cocktails.
While manis and pedis with cocktails is enough to make this our ultimate salon, the impeccable service (which includes complimentary jewelry cleaning) and warm atmosphere is what keeps us coming back.
Andrea and Claudia wanted to make the nailsaloon a place where women can connect and feel comfortable. And, we’ve spent many evenings doing just that.
We recently sat down with Andrea and Claudia to talk brunch, business, and beauty regimens. Read on to see what they had to say. You can also read our recap of our festive holiday Nails and Cocktails party, here, and our brunch at Bistro du Coin with the ladies, here.
Where is your favorite place to brunch in town?
AV: Oh, so many to choose from!
CD: I agree, there are too many options! I particularly enjoy Montmarte in Capitol Hill. The atmosphere is great and the food is delicious. I love their omelet campagnarde with lamb sausage and goat cheese. It’s very different… very yum! I also like Sticky Rice on H Street for things like their shrimp and Gouda grits or Korean style savory cakes with jalapeños—it’s all very unique. Their cocktails are great as well!
AV: One of my favorite neighborhood spots to get breakfast is Slipstream, just down the street on 14th. Their avocado goat cheese toast is out of this – forget world. It’s out of this galaxy, really. And I did try Fiola Mare, on the Bitches’ recommendation, and thought it was absolutely decadent and delicious.
What is your favorite dish to cook for brunch?
AV: Clau is a phenomenal baker, so if she doesn’t say bread I’m going to be upset.
CD: Bread. Was I supposed to say anything else? Bread in all forms and, if possible, with olive oil on the side. Other than that, my fave go-to dish is an egg and cheese sandwich with bacon and caramelized onions on an everything bagel.
Do you prefer to brunch in or out?
CD: Hard to say, it depends. I love brunching at home, particularly with big groups of people, as it feels more intimate and there’s tolerance for loudness. But I also like getting out on weekends and exploring new brunch additions to the city. There are so many new spots!
AV: You know, we’re Argentine and Brazilian, respectively. Both cultureshave a habit of turning meals into 4-5 hour affairs, where people just sit at the table and gab for hours on end. In Spanish, there’s even a name for it. It’s called the “sobremesa” and it sort of means the “after meal.” Naturally, that’s much easier to do at home than at a restaurant. So, even though I love brunching out, I love that brunching in buys you time to hang— and hang some more.
What brunch item do you have to order if it’s on the menu?
CD: Huevos Rancheros….but only if it’s done right. I wouldn’t order it at an Irish pub!
AV: Coffee. I actually make a conscious effort to order different things every time I’m out, because it’s too easy to stay on a perpetual Eggs Benedict loop.
Do you prefer Bloody Marys or mimosas?
AV: Mimosas, for sure.
CD: Bloody Marys, as spicy as it gets.
If you had to invite a group of local celebrities to brunch, who would they be?
CD: Thievery Corporation. They appreciate food, they are great musicians, and they have stayed true to their roots in D.C. They have done a great deal for this city.
AV: Good call. Let’s see… I think brunch with Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden would be a blast. Their husbands could come, too.
You both had very different careers before starting the nailsaloon. What made you finally made you take the leap? What advice do you have for women contemplating the same kind of move?
AV: We always talked about going into business together, and we knew we’d leap as soon as we uncovered a concept that we could get behind whole-heartedly. But as far as advice, I think it’s the same as with any large undertaking. Grab a notebook. Make a list. And just put one foot in front of the other. And don’t stop until it’s finished.
CD: I have always wanted to have my own business and build something from scratch. My advice is to always try to be realistic, positive, and true to yourself and your values. But most of all, pick your partners wisely—not every friend makes a great partner. I have been very lucky to find Andrea.
AV: Me too! I second that!
nailsaloon offers so much more than just a place to get your nails done. What do you think differentiates it from other salons?
AV: First, we have a great team. Our managers, Justine and Amanda, are wonderful hostesses and deliver a fantastic client experience. As do our technicians, who are both meticulous and passionate about their craft.
CD:We also want to give back to the community. We want this to be a social hangout for fun, but also create a great environment for mentoring young women, which is something we will be focusing on in 2015.
We Bitches love women business owners. What do you think holds women back from starting their own ventures? What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in starting your own business?
CD: There are a lot of unknowns when starting a business. Those unknowns can be scary. I’m not sure it applies more to women than men though because my husband, for example, is one of the most risk adverse people I know. But I think uncertainty—especially in a tough economy—can scare a lot of people. The most valuable thing I’ve learned from starting this business is that no matter what, you need to expect the unexpected. From our concept to our build-out to our grand opening, there were so many events and occurrences we didn’t expect.
You need to internalize that “something business-altering might occur today.” That way, when something happens, you are mentally prepared for almost anything.
AV: It’s so true. And, mind you, even when you think you are ready, you will probably still be surprised. But the trick is mitigating that as much as possible. Now, I’m not sure what holds people who want to open a business back—because not everyone wants to do this—but I think it’s feeling there’s too great a risk. But the funny thing is, there’s risk in everything. There’s risk in staying in a job you don’t like, or feeling like your career is stunted because you have been waiting for something to change at your place of work for years. There’s risk in being promoted into a role that you have to own, even if it feels a bit big in the beginning, or in never opening that bed and breakfast you dream about. So there’s no free lunch, you know? This is just a different kind of risk. As far as what I’ve learned, oooh, so much. In general, I’d say it’s harder than we thought, but also more possible than we imagined. So the result is a nice balance.
Claudia, you have your own line of handbags in addition to the joy of raising your daughter. How do you balance your schedule with so many roles?
CD: I like to be busy. I feel it’s what I thrive on and have now gotten used to multi-tasking. That being said, I have a very supportive family and partner in Andrea. I’m not trying to be sappy here…..I couldn’t have done this without them. I feel very lucky to have such helpful and caring people in my life.
AV: She’s not trying to be sappy but suddenly I’m getting teary. Thanks Clau. The feeling is mutual.
Manicures and pedicures are a special treat for many women. What regular beauty regimen would you say women should not go without?
CD: Exercise, a healthy diet, and a few minutes a day of alone time for introspection.
AV: Sleep! And lots of water! I think the usual: moisturize, remove your makeup before going to bed, and be grateful. Everyone looks better when they are looking at the bright side of life.
Last but not least, we are hosting a fabulous fete at the nailsaloon next week! Join us on Tuesday, June 23, for a manicure or pedicure. Your ticket gets you either a mani or a pedi, plus pizza, wine and cocktails, and gifts to take home from Kendra Scott jewelry, JRINK juice, nailsaloon, and more. Get your tickets here.