Nail art entrepreneur perseveres through adversity
Local businesswoman Kiara Ellis launched Nail Bar MN a year ago. Unfortunately, since then her business has been forced to close numerous times due to a myriad of challenges. First, it was construction, then COVID-19, and then the tragic death of George Floyd. How has the shop been able to find success? “In this season, it’s resilience. We’ve had hurdles and changes,” said Ellis.
Any client that enters Nail Bar MN will likely be enamored by the swanky, upscale salon, staffed by a team of creative nail technicians. There’s a great selection of beautiful nail art to choose from—something for everybody. “Our mission is to create spaces that welcome the community,” explained Ellis.
Nail Bar MN is geared toward serving the community and creating job growth, as well as economic opportunities. “One of the reasons why I wanted to open the Nail Bar,” said Ellis, “is to provide job stability for my team and the workforce I wanted to support.”
She added, “Part of this mission is diversifying the workforce. There is talent out here in Black and Brown women and others that don’t get an opportunity to work in a salon environment.”
Although setbacks occurred, the Nail Bar MN team overcame adversity. Ellis said, “Everything going on with George Floyd makes us pause.” In an effort to raise awareness about social injustice, a mural was painted on the side of the salon’s building that pays homage to the Black Lives Matter Movement. The project was sponsored by the Uptown Neighborhood Association.
The team of nail technicians at Nail Bar MN all specialize in natural nails, enhancements, and pedicures. “The hottest trends are the ombre nails and Gel X application for natural nails,” said Ellis.
There’s also an intense protocol in place at the establishment for handling COVID. “It starts with a waiver, then temperature check, washing hands, everyone is required to wear a mask, limited amount of people, longer sanitation time, and we use hospital-grade disinfectants,” said Ellis. They set aside extra time to sanitize space between each client. Around the clock cleaning is heavily enforced.
Ellis also expressed there are “capacity guidelines” they must adhere to. “Availability is a lot more limited. It is just as stressful to be overbooked,” she said. Social distancing is enforced. They have double stations, so only one nail technician can be working at a time.
The Nail Bar MN’s space is very unique. “We partner with The Beauty Lounge Minneapolis. Melissa Taylor is my partner and has been owning the Beauty Lounge for several years. We reconnected on a whole different vibe. Same mission” said Ellis.
Through their partnership, customers can receive nail and hair services all under one roof. Both businesses are Black-owned.
As for products and services, “The Nail Bar MN offers full-service nail care, specializing in natural nails and the Gel X system that is utilized to preserve natural nails,” said Ellis. The team also consistently strives to stay up to date on trends.
From “milk bath” nail art to “Black Lives Matter”-themed nails, there’s plenty of unique styles to choose from, personalized designs as well. Prices range from $35 to specialty to $65 and up. Customers can expect “a high level of service and to be heard,” said Ellis.
Nail Bar MN also values social responsibility. Specifically, Ellis and her team have volunteered at schools and kids’ events. They plan on continuing their philanthropic efforts in the future.
In addition to owning and operating Nail Bar MN, Ellis works full-time at the University of Minnesota managing outreach for the school’s cancer center. Her educational background includes a B.A. and an M.A. in social work. She’s also had involvement with the Black Chamber of Commerce and MEDA.
Ellis shared advice for upcoming entrepreneurs: “Be flexible. Everything changes; don’t marry yourself to having that tunnel vision—we take ordered steps. Do your homework.”
After putting in the work, Nail Bar MN serves as the perfect place to get rejuvenated. “We have to take time for self-care, especially as women. Always burning the candle at both ends. Take care of the vessel that moves you. Come in, get pampered for an hour,” said Ellis.
Nail Bar MN is located at 3501 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. The store is open 10 am-7 pm, but availability varies due to COVID restrictions. For more info, call 612-227-9363 or visit the website at www.thenailbarmn.com.