After accompanying his wife on trips to the salon for pedicures, Justin Cook was disappointed by what he found.
“Everything else [my wife] does is so curated–from the coffee she drinks to where she shops and where she eats–and I really just didn’t feel like the salons out there were really creating a brand for the customers,” says Cook.
Having seen the success of other boutique industries with strong branding–Drybar in the blowout industry, SoulCycle in the exercise industry–Cook says he “thought we could do better” than other nail salons by offering a hyper-branded alternative. Thus, Cook started researching nail salons, visiting luxury spas on trips, and eventually, enrolling in nail school in Virginia.
All of Cook’s research and observations are now culminating in Coatroom, an affordable nail and waxing salon that’s slated to open in Ballston in April. Intended to fit in the market between luxury spas and dingy strip mall salons, Cook says Coatroom will provide high-end services without the high prices, with manicures starting at $19, mani-pedis at $45, and waxes at $9.
Included in those amenities are waxes provided solely by certified technicians, nail art and gel manicures, medical-grade sterilization of the salon’s reusable tools, a Coatroom app for booking appointments, and custom shea butter bath bombs for pedicures, along with some more fun elements: a “mani selfie” wall and the salon’s own publication,“Mani Magazine.”
The magazine will be written and produced by the salon with the purpose of giving clients something to read during their pedicure other than a “traditional magazine.” (But if you are a fan of the ol’ traditional magazine there’s always, ahem, this one).
“We have some fashion tips in there, some stuff about nails, upcoming events, a breakdown of girls’ night out in Arlington, stories about what girls are doing to get ready, where they’re going, what products they’re using,” says Cook.
Depending on popularity, the magazine will come out monthly or quarterly, and in between issues, salon goers can entertain themselves with the “mani selfie” wall, a rotating backdrop that will be hung near the salon exit for guests to pause and take a snap of their new nail art before they head out the door.
Cook also hopes the 1,350-square-foot salon’s design will help set it apart from other boutiques. Triangular glass panes will fill the front windows, while inside clients will find grey floor tiles, custom glass manicure tables with chandeliers hung overhead, built-in pedicure stations, a “beauty refresh” station with rose-gold faucets, and a four-sided “color tower” that’ll be lit from within to highlight the 800 nail polishes on its shelves.
A year and a half in the making, acting as Coatroom’s CEO will be a big change for Cook, who previously worked as a consultant in commercial real estate. “But it wasn’t as fun as starting a nail salon,” he says.
Coatroom is slated to open in April at 850 N. Randolph St., Suite 101 in Arlington.