Lisa Suárez-Brentzel, owner of LACQUER Modern Nail Salon and Gallery, thought the nail salon community could use a little more color.
“There were no tattooed, Hispanic girls doing nails when I started, but I love the thrill of opening a business,” she said.
Suárez-Brentzel opened LACQUER with a goal of offering fashion-forward nail art and other cosmetic services with a girly loft vibe. She said her dreams of being in the cosmetology business are nothing new, though.
After high school, Suárez-Brentzel began massage school in hopes of combining medicine with her interest in cosmetology.
“My family is very traditional and wanted me to go to a four-year college for nursing, but I knew I wanted to do something more alternative,” Suárez-Brentzel said.
She said massage school turned out to not capture her attention, so she transitioned into cosmetology school and, to her surprise, found her true passion in nails work.
She began to work at a salon in Polaris doing traditional nail services like acrylics in red and nude colors and French manicures, but became increasingly infatuated with edgier nail trends from London.
“When I was getting into the business about seven years ago, nail art was not progressive in Columbus. It was seen as ‘tacky,’” Suárez-Brentzel said. “But then I started getting heavy into Tumblr and found these trendy, edgy girls who were making nail art cool.”
When Suárez-Brentzel was 22 years old, she left the salon in Polaris and began working for herself, she started offering free nail art manicures to her clients to test the market. This was a service that was not offered much in the Columbus area. The community response was so positive that she had to hire two more girls to help manage the demand.
“That’s how you stand out in this business: offering something that other people don’t,” Suárez-Brentzel said.
As her clientele for modern nail art grew, so did her staff and salon space.
Suárez-Brentzel opened up LACQUER on 448 W. 3rd Ave. in Grandview, a mere two weeks after signing the lease.
Upon entry, customers are greeted with a high, white ceiling, exposed brick walls, furniture slung with fur throws and the sweet aroma of burning candles. A bouquet of sunflowers rests in glass vases next to assorted candy jars. Fashion magazines are spread out on coffee tables and artwork and photographs hang on the walls.
A pink neon sign hangs above a black leather couch in the lobby area that says, “Support your local girl gang.”
“I wanted it to look and feel like your cool best friend’s apartment,” Suárez-Brentzel said.
Katie Johnson was awaiting her first appointment at LACQUER after her sister referred the salon.
“The atmosphere makes me want to come back. I’m officially converted,” Johnson said.
LACQUER offers natural nail manicures, acrylic manicures, pedicures, spray tanning, permanent makeup and tattoo removal, facials, eyelash and eyebrow tinting, eyelash extensions and henna tattoos. All services are by appointment only. On Sundays, there are yoga classes. All polishes are vegan-friendly.
“My goal always has been to offer the modern girl something different,” Suárez-Brentzel said.
LACQUER is best known for their artistic and wearable gel nail art manicures that take around 30 minutes.
Libby Vynalek said she has been into LACQUER about 10 times and hasn’t visited another salon since her first appointment.
“It’s a total girl’s business, I love it,” Vynalek said.
The typical clientele of LACQUER is 25- to 40-year-old women who are fast-paced and fashion-forward, Suárez-Brentzel said. There is a small following of men and a strong following of female college students.
“During college or grad school, girls have no money for new highlights or a brand new outfit or a new Kate Spade, but they’ll spend $35 on a manicure and feel like they have their life together,” Suárez-Brentzel said.
For girls on a budget, LACQUER offers negative space manicures, a nail service where polish isn’t painted on the bed of the nail so that it looks more natural with growth. LACQUER also uses their large social media following to offer “pop-up deals” that work as coupons.
As a self-taught businesswomen, Suárez-Brentzel attempts to support her fellow female entrepreneurs.
“I just feel like there aren’t enough girls who support each other, so that’s where the ‘Support your local girl gang’ came from,” Suárez-Brentzel said. “We always say ‘girls against boys,’ but I don’t think that’s true. I think that girls in business can be very segregated and catty. There are enough clients for everybody, so I made it a prominent thing that we use women vendors.”
Suárez-Brentzel said she is also very conscious of how she mixes business with family.
“I’m a single mom, so it’s important that my daughter sees me here working so she understands why I can’t be with her all the time,” Suárez-Brentzel said. “She is 4 years old and already waltzes in here like, ‘I need a facial,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re a baby.’”