After 14 months of renovation, Jessica Nail Clinic has reopened in its original Sunset Strip location with a more modern feel — think natural light, dark lacquer woods, grey textured tile and accents of hot pink and metallic silver.
Famed interior designer to the stars, Laura Mako (who worked with Bob Hope, Gerald and Betty Ford and Dean Martin) was the first designer of the clinic in 1975. “It was beautiful,” said founder Jessica Vartoughian, adding, “It was just time to become more modern and usher in a new generation.”
Vartoughian opened what she maintains was the world’s first nails-only salon in 1969 and has been the Los Angeles authority on healthy nails ever since. (In 1978, she was dubbed “The First Lady of Nails” by The New York Times.)
Even back then, her salon earned a steady following of glamorous L.A. ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Lucille Ball and Betsy Bloomingdale, who appreciated Vartoughian’s natural nail care techniques and methods.
The clinic is known for its signature “nail cultivation system,” (Demi Moore, Diana Ross and Kris Jenner are fans), which centers around determining nail type and prescribing an individualized regimen. The Romanian-born entrepreneur also created a successful nail care treatment and polish line, Jessica Cosmetics, which sells in salons around the world.
We caught up with nail guru to discuss the remodel, trends and where the business will go next.
Why did you decide to remodel the clinic?
We have always been the talk of the town and we have superb clients and it was just time to have a more modern, more hip look. I have a great decorator, Jeffrey Hitchcock (the L.A.-based designer does mostly homes). I love his work. I knew what I wanted, like this beautiful deck we are sitting on and a nice waiting area for the guests to sit and let their nails dry. We worked together and I tore this place apart — it is a totally different space. It took over a year, but I wasn’t in a hurry. I wanted to do it right. It is important to me that people can relax here.
Are there any new services being offered that weren’t offered before?
We have been known for our nail cultivation treatments since the beginning in 1969. But we expanded our service menu to include soft gel manicures, nail art, full facial services, brow shaping and body waxing.
Many of your employees have been working for you for 20 or 30 years.
We don’t like to have people transitioning in here — we’ve had the same customers for years, too. It’s important to me that the women here establish their own business. All of our clients, young and old, appreciate how well-trained the women are.
Tell us about your new polish line.
Phenom is a fairly new formula that dries faster in natural light; it lasts longer than a normal polish and it looks like a gel, but it isn’t.
What do you think of the gel nail polish trend?
Well, we do offer gel here, but we only do the soft gel which can be soaked off. It is all in the way you remove the gel from the nail. We train the girls here to do natural nails and we incorporate that into our gel procedure. We never scrape the nail.
What is the salon’s most popular nail color for the summer?
The Phenom line has become a big hit. Geisha Girl, a great summer red and Angel, a very sheer pink that looks beautiful with a tan, are favorites this season.
Is there a certain trend in nails right now that you don’t love?
I’m very conservative, I usually only wear pale colors or classic reds. I don’t like square-shaped nails, though. I have never liked that. The nail shape should follow your cuticle shape.
What is your plan for Jessica Nail Clinic in the coming years?
I would like to expand to a few other cities. I am trying to get together a team of people for maybe New York, Chicago and possibly Dallas. I would also like to go to other countries; my products are popular in Europe (you can buy Jessica polishes in luxury department stores across the pond like Harrods). We would like to go to England, France, Italy and Dubai. We would, of course, like to bring in the new generation.
What do you hope clients think and feel when they leave the newly renovated space?
I hope they are in a peaceful place, like the way you feel when you are at a spa. And, of course, I hope they think we did a good job.
Vintage Vibe:Jessica Nail Salon in 1975
The remodeled waiting and salon areas