RUTH KALLENS OF VAN COURT STUDIO
"You know those things they use at dentist offices to sterilize the medical tools?" Ruth Kallens asked me as Teresa, my nail artist that evening, pulled out what looked like an artist's set of brushes to do my nails. "Oh yeah...I know those things, with the light!" (I have no idea how those things work.)
"That's what we use to sterilize our tools. Not the solution other salons use." Right there I realized there was something different about Van Court Studio, a nail salon which I can hardly call a salon because it's so unique from anything I've stepped foot in. Head down to Water Street in Financial District, and walk up one modern staircase, and you're in a haven that looks more like a hidden artist's studio than a beauty salon. Ruth pulled open a wooden door, and behind it was a beautiful natural light-filled room with a few pedicure chairs, and a few manicure chairs, and I never wanted to rip my rings off faster and hear all about this place. Bonus: they clean your rings for you when they do your nails!
With a background in marketing and PR, Kallens, the founder and partner of Van Court, saw a major gap in New York City beauty. First thing was first, I needed Kallens to outline why this place was so different, and how we could make every nail experience in Manhattan this downright heavenly.
"It is all about the technicians. They are the prime of nail technicians in the industry. Their attention to detail is fantastic. I have to book them just like anyone else would have to book them. When she's not with me (points to Teresa), she's off doing - I can't even tell you who's - high profile people. That's the number one to me, the talent is of utmost importance."
I looked around at the technicians around me and from start to finish, the experience was different. Teresa explained how and why she was using certain products, getting off every remaining dead skin or cuticle. And of course, she's worked in this industry from salon to runway to editorial shoots.
"In my Racked interview they said, 'Well you know, you're really expensive, do you ever get nervous about that?,' and I said no. Not even closes. My girls are expensive, and my product is expensive. Everything we use in our treatments is organic."
I envy Kallens' confidence and entrepreneurial direction. She should absolutely be an inspiration for women seeing a gap, tapping into what they love, and moving forward in the most adventurous yet practical way: filling that gap and making a change!
The small but passionate staff at Van Court explained how they don't hate coming to work - in fact they love it. If most of you remember the reports of the nail technician industry last year, this is about as opposite as can be. As an owner, Kallens highlights her idea of making Van Court a positive environment to have fun together.
Nails should make you feel good. It's the summer, your hands are grabbing glasses of wine outside, your toes are in the sand, and the summer nail polish colors are more exciting! "But let's be cognizant of the products we're putting on our nails," Kallens continues. Their polishes are 5 , 7 or 9 free and their creams and oils are natural and when possible, organic
Let's talk about the new season and how you should treat your nails differently. I asked Kallens about this transitional and exciting time of year.
"Pedicure. Every. Week. No exceptions," And why is that? "It's like exfoliating your face, and exfoliating your body. People completely forget about their feet, and then they come in and they haven't had a pedicure in a year, and it literally takes us a good two and a half hours because they need that much help, because their cuticle and layers and layers of dead skin. We don't use acid here to break that down so it's a lot of work." And they're not against hard work, but come on people take care of yourselves!
The salon menu is all results driven, meaning they're not just sloshing on oils and exfoliants that simply feel good. Fo example See Spot Run is good for sun damaged, aging hands. And the Gentleman's Pedicure is an attentive process that leaves you feeling as good as having a fine shoe shine.
"People are making Van Court their spot. It's a very intimate environment, and it feels really good." And to be straight up with anyone reading this right now, I'd feel a lot better prepping for the weekend on Thirsty Thursday here with a girlfriend, than going to another mediocre bar. Thank goodness for Ruth Kallens making her ethical, glamorous, and down-to-earth impression on Manhattan.