Each of our Pro features celebrates the inspiring success of influencers from diverse industries, starting from the early career, remembering the big break, looking at the industry today, and opening their little black books to divulge their ultimate product kit.
What sparked her interest in nail salons:
“When I was living in New York, I really wanted to move to L.A., so I was trying to figure out what kind of career I wanted. I worked in finance for 10 years, but I loved entertainment- I love movies and T.V.- so I started looking into that industry. While I was out here interviewing, I was getting my hair done at Drybar all the time and going to Tracy Anderson since I was a member in New York, so I would be here in L.A. going to all the places that felt familiar to me since they were bicoastal, but the one place I didn’t feel at home at was nail salons. I had this ‘Aha!’ moment when I realized there should be a national chain of nail salons- like a Drybar or Tracy Anderson- where you can go to different cities and feel like you have your ‘place’. I’ve always loved beauty and I love getting my nails done, so this career, founding Olive & June, kind of found me.
In New York, there are so many options if you want to get your nails done; even the ‘corner places’ feel better there, but L.A. does the affordable luxury category better overall. Out here, we have affordable luxury in so many industries, places like Sugarfish, Drybar and Urth Café, so I felt like there was room for nails to fit in there somewhere. I think the biggest difference between L.A. and New York is that here, affordable luxury is a category, but in New York, it’s a one-off. They definitely had options for the affordable luxury nail salon out in New York, but in every other category, like foods and services, it was lacking.
Even though New York had more of those affordable luxury salons, I usually went to corner salons anyway because I liked the hominess. That’s one of the reasons I think people really love coming to Olive & June, because it’s inspired by a true nail salon. I never wanted to create a super-oasis that felt too perfect, I just wanted to upgrade your classic salon. That’s why we only do nails, why we carry hundreds of polishes and focus so heavily on the art of nails. That’s what people are here for; to have a nail salon experience, not a spa experience.”
Olive & June’s big break:
“We were written up in Daily Candy when we first opened, which doesn’t exist anymore, but even though the site was at the tail end of its lifecycle, it was still huge in Los Angeles, so since day one, the phone has pretty much been ringing off the hook, but our event with Drew Barrymore a few months after we launched was pretty special. We opened in late August, and the event was in November, and I remember looking around and being like, ‘Holy shit, this is a thing.” She’s been a big supporter of the brand and has been a wonderful friend to us, but having that support three months in was surreal.
We have three salons now: Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Santa Monica. We will open more in the future, and ultimately, we want to delve into products. We’re working on that new, figuring out exactly what we want to do, and also doing some fun collaborations. Stay tuned!”
How Instagram shaped her business:
“Our digital community on social media is so strong, and I’ve been trying to serve that community better. We give them pictures, but we could do so much more, so we’ve started doing tutorials on Mondays and are thinking of other ways to engage. Our brand is really aspirational for a lot of our followers, so it’s important to me that we create a community that’s inclusive. When you do come here, the salon never has felt, and hopefully would never feel, like an exclusive experience. A lot of the nail content that’s out there doesn’t feel very accessible. It’s very high fashion or blingy, and there isn’t anyone really doing stuff that’s more comfortable, like what your best friend would have on her nails. That’s what we want to be: your nail best friend.
People say we’re the most instagrammable nail salon, and it’s so funny because we didn’t do anything for that reason. These days, people design these ‘instagrammable’ moments, but we just wanted to create a space that balanced comfortable and serene, which is surprisingly really hard to do. You don’t want spa-like, but you still want it to be pretty. The owners of TenOverSix, which is one of my favorite stores, ever, did the interior design of the original space in Beverly Hills, and I still work with one of the owners, Brady Cunningham, on the subsequent locations. She has a design firm called Wall For Apricots. I was very heavily involved in the design, but they pushed me to do a lot, and there was a lot of compromising. They really wanted an art installation above the chairs, I said no, and so we ended up with the hanging floral wall. The barn door in the back is inspired by my parents’ farmhouse in upstate New York. The chairs get beat up, but we love it. We wanted this to be your stylish friends’ house; very familial, warm and comfortable. One of the reasons we recently remodeled the Beverly Hills store, actually, is because this big, pristine Lawson-Fenning pink couch we had here felt like too much. It needed to feel more casual.”
The future of your favorite nail trends (gels, clean polish, etc.):
“The switch from gel to gel-like polish has been happening for a few years, but it’s been really interesting to watch. The labs are really focused on offering better non-gel polishes, because people don’t want to wear gels all the time. They want to feel like they can have a manicure last a solid week, not necessarily more than that, but also not three days. We carry a few of these gel-like polishes now, and they’re so popular. Over the next few years, I think we’ll see acrylics virtually disappear, especially because the process of applying them so bad for the technicians, and gel-like polishes will become more popular than gels as the formulas keep getting better and better.
The organic manicure and pedicure is still really big, especially the polishes, but the cleaner polishes inherently have a harder time sticking, which is a hurdle we’re trying to cross right now. Clients get frustrated with the polish brands because they want the polishes to last longer, and then we’re frustrated because we want everyone to have the best experience. The hardest part is these brands say their polish lasts seven days, but peoples nails are all in different conditions when they come to us. Sometimes, people will come in and get organic polish and it will last for two weeks because they have amazing nails. But more often than not, our customers have dabbled with gels or acrylics at some point, or maybe their diet isn’t super healthy, and if you have nails that are at all damaged and try to do a 5-free water based polish, it’s just not going to stay as long.
If you are someone who eats super clean and healthy, you’re totally anti bad chemicals, then just don’t do polish. Get a really clean, well-shaped manicure, and skip polish. Most people, though, fall somewhere on the middle of the spectrum, so you have to decide how many degrees you want to compromise, and if you’re going to cheat at all, I’d say cheat on nails. Eat healthy, put clean products on your skin, but let polish be that degree you cheat with. Think about your choices like a grid, and if you go across, they should all line up. For me, when I’m pregnant, I eat at McDonald’s. I really only eat at uber-healthy Erewhon once a month; so I don’t need a 5-free, water-based polish, gels are fine for me [laughs].”
Her best advice for better nails:
“No one wants to hear this, but my biggest advice is when someone goes on a tropical vacation, don’t get polish. It’s such a good time for your nails to be in the sun and salt water, and just breathe. If your nails get wet, the water will make your nail plate expand and your polish will basically pop off, so it’s not even worth it!”
Sarah’s Ideal Beauty Kit:
“I love R+CO Dry Shampoo so much- sometimes I use it on clean hair [laughs]. It’s fantastic and works so well. For shampoo, I use Rene Futerer and I swear by it. It really gets my hair clean. I took Accutane a long time ago, so I don’t know how much oil my face actually produces, but my hair gets greasy really quickly. It will start off really clean the first day, but the roots are oily by the second day. I was listening to a podcast where one of the speakers was talking about the best shampoos for people with fine hair, and he recommended this one, so I started using it and haven’t looked back.”
“I love Deborah Lippmann, RGB, NailsInc, Treat, and right now, I’m loving CND Shellac Gel. It was the first gel on the market, and it’s truly kick ass. Field Fox is this great lavender grey and is probably my favorite color of all time, and Creekside, which is a really pretty blue, looks awesome on everyone. OPI Don’t Bossanova Me Around is what I’m wearing now, and it’s so good. Everyone loves it when they get it.
I’m obsessed with cuticle oil because I honestly believe if you use it around your nails often, they look so much better for so much longer. It’s crazy. Even if you have grown out gels and use cuticle oil, your nails look so much better. I love CND’s Solaroil, and Deborah Lippmann’s The Cure is really great, too. Maya Chia does a Wonder Balm that’s all-purpose and I use it everywhere- on my lips, cuticles, elbows.”
“I go to Kristie Streicher for brows- she’s the best- and I’ve been using this brow oil to help my brows grow back in, and it’s life changing. I read about it on a website and ordered it on a whim, it’s called Province Apothecary Full Brow Serum. Mine are still growing in, but I’ve seen such a huge difference since I started using it. It will change your world!”
“For my skin, I swear by Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform. She’s my facialist, and I’m obsessed with her. There’s also a product that we use here at Olive & June called Ojai Sugar Lemongrass Scrub, and it’s bananas. So good. I discovered it at an Ojai farmers market, and the way she makes it is really special. The sugar is almost dense, so you feel like you’re getting a good scrub when you use it.
I’m newly obsessed with supplements, so I’m trying Hum Nutrition right now, and I’ve been drinking Moon Juice’s Beauty Dust and Beauty Chef’s Beauty Glow Supplement. My nails and hair definitely feel better when I take them. Everyone wants instant gratification, but they really take a solid eight to twelve weeks to see a difference. You can start to see results in a month, but in twelve weeks, you’ll feel like you’re glowing.”
“In the mornings, I make a smoothie with Matcha, my Moon Juice Powders, like their Beauty Dust and the Vanilla Mushroom Protein Powder, some probiotics, a banana and homemade almond milk. Beauty Chef’s supplement is easy; you can just mix it with water and it tastes like pomegranate, but the flavor is strong, which is why I don’t put it in my smoothie. The biggest problem I find with most of these dusts is you have to really stir them heavily, which is probably good because that means they’re really pure; they don’t just disintegrate like something with chemicals would.
Almond milk is so easy to make, and no one does it! It’s basically putting a bunch of almonds and some water in a Vitamix and straining through a cheesecloth. Buying the Vitamix is the most annoying part [laughs]. Homemade almond milk doesn’t last very long, five days tops, so if you’re buying almond milk in a box and it lasts for two weeks, you know it’s got some bad stuff in it.”
“I still go to Tracy Anderson, not as much as I should, but I still go. I love what she does for women’s bodies, and dance is so empowering. It makes you feel so good about your body. I had a baby a year and a half ago, so I’m still struggling with that a little. I gained 65 pounds- I really did eat at McDonald’s! [Laughs] But I love Tracy’s program and what it does for me. I’ll occasionally supplement with a little yoga. I just started going to Modo Yoga on La Brea.”
“I use a lot of Chanel makeup. We did an event with them in March for Oscars and they gave me a bunch of their products. I hadn’t used the brand in a really long time, but I totally fell in love with it again. There’s one powder, the Les Beiges, that I’m obsessed with. It’s an all-over powder and has nice coverage, but it’s really light.
RMS Beauty is another makeup brand I love. Their Eye Polish in Lunar also works great as a highlighter. Their Lip Shine in Honest is so pretty. You can tell it’s been well loved because of all the dents on the lid from my daughter throwing it around!
I’m almost always a gloss girl, but for lipsticks, Kosas are my favorite. I used the color Rosewater today as a base.”