At Little Luxuries Nail Lounge in Uptown, a purple chandelier hangs from the ceiling and long rows of colorful nail polish line a side wall.
Beside a workstation full of glittering rhinestones and false nails is a backdrop of purple and white flowers where customers can pose for photos. On the side table is a granite hashtag sculpture featuring the word "boss."
Open since June 2018, the salon is one of few in the Twin Cities specializing in nail art.
Owned by Amy Vang and her mother, Nou Yang, Little Luxuries offers a space where clients can take a break from their busy schedules and practice self-care.
“To [our clients], getting a nail service done is a little luxury for them,” Vang said. “In life where there’s so many daily stresses ... this is a way for people to really treat themselves and [let themselves be] taken care of.”
Vang said she has worked at many nail salons and spas where she was not allowed to practice nail art on clients because it was a time-consuming process, or not even a service the salon offered.
With Little Luxuries, she seeks to celebrate the creativity and artistry of her nail technicians and help people see why it is worth the extra expense.
“It might look so quick and easy to do on the internet, but nail art takes time,” Vang said. “We don’t just slap it on. We put time into the lines we draw. I think people don’t realize that until they actually get it done.”
Vang’s sister and fellow nail artist, Melody Vue, said Little Luxuries gives her the freedom to experiment with designs and really focus on her clients, especially when compared to other salons she has worked for that are more fast-paced and value quantity over quality.
She has built her own clientele base and has many regulars she sees every few weeks.
“As much as it is a creative outlet for us, [nail art] is a creative outlet for [customers] too, because they get to wear art on their fingertips,” she said.
Many of Vue’s clients are inspired by designs they see on social media or those worn by celebrities.
Recently, Vue painted alternating black and white geometric and marbled designs on client Yesenia Casalez, artfully applying diamond rhinestones to the base of the nail.
Having beautiful nails can be an empowering addition to anyone’s look, Vue said.
“Maybe I don’t have my makeup done or I’m not wearing the cutest outfit, but if my nails are done, I feel put together,” she said.
Nail technician Emmallyn Blomberg specializes in line art and drawing tattoo-like designs on nails.
“I used to do drawings and paintings, but I hated how long it would take on such a big [surface],” Blomberg said.
“It take[s] a fraction of the time to finish a piece on a nail than it would on a canvas. And you can wear it too.”
Kristen Hicks, who got her nails done by Blomberg last Friday, said she sees Blomberg every three weeks and has been coming to Little Luxuries for a few months.
Like many of the artists’ relationships with their regular clients, the two have become close and often spend time during their appointments venting about their day, people-watching from the salon’s window or just sharing a comfortable silence.
“I’m a single mom with three kids and I run a bar full-time,” Hicks said. “So being able to come here for an hour and a half to three hours and do something just for me once a month is great for my sanity.”
Blomberg said one of the most rewarding aspects of being a nail technician is being able to brighten someone’s day with her work.
“It’s that feeling when you finish a set and someone looks at them and they go, ‘Oh my god! What is this?!’ and you know you … made [them] feel like a whole different person,” she said. “It’s just rewarding.”