Acrylic Nail Art

 Unlike most nail salons, Adore Dolls Parlour in Varsity Lakes, on Australia’s Gold Coast, offers the niche service of acrylic nail art at an affordable rate. Owner Nicole Hague was always artistically inclined as a child. As a self-proclaimed terrible nail-biter, she began using stickers to cover them up. In high school she would get acrylics but she couldn’t find anyone to do the kind of “bling and diamonds” she wanted so she started decorating her own nails.

Then she encountered a few Japanese tourists in her hometown who had extremely embellished nails unlike anything she had seen before. That sparked an obsession that led Hague first to nail school in 2010, and then to her doing nails out of a small studio. In November 2013, Hague’s clientele had grown so much, she and her team moved into the salon they are in today.

Focusing on one specialty could be perceived as limiting, but with a four- to six-week backlog of appointments, Hague and her team have no shortage of demand for her salon’s services. Hague herself has even stopped taking on new clients. This can be an issue since some clients prefer to see the owner because of the perception that the owner provides the best service. “What they don’t realize is that my girls are the best on the coast,” she says. “Everyone here is amazing.”

In fact, there are very few dedicated nail salons at all. There are more general beauty salons here, she says. “Those salons don’t have an autoclave and don’t use fresh tools and fresh files on every person.”

Keeping with the boutique theme salon, Adore Dolls Parlour sells only a few retail items: clothing with the salon’s logo, a tote, and OPI Avojuice hand cream and Joss Cuticle Oil for customers to maintain their nails between appointments.

Hague explains that she and the three other nail techs in the salon can create any custom design that customers request. The salon’s pricing has different levels to suit clients with more subtle taste and those who are looking for embellishment on every nail.

She and her techs draw nail art inspiration from almost anything — current fashion trends, nail art Instagram accounts, pictures clients bring in themselves, and of course, trade magazines. Because the salon now sees so many customers regularly, often these clients will let the techs do whatever kind of nail art they want, making it up as they go. “I love having free range. That’s how I come up with my best designs,” she says.

Additionally, Hague encourages her nail techs to keep up their own nails by providing free nail art and other salon services for each other. That way, techs can show off their custom nails or lash extensions in the salon for client inspiration. Not to mention it’s free advertising for the salon when techs are out and about in Varsity Lakes. “Because we’re all so obsessed with nail art I don’t think we could go without. We’re all able to work with these crazy nails.”

Though this unique salon is doing very well throughout its market, Hague has faced some difficulties with owning a salon. She explains that reminding her staff she is the boss is one of the hardest challenges. She is very close with her team and likes to thank them by taking them out to meals or shows occasionally, so that line can get blurred. Still, she tries to take care of her staff and ensure their happiness because they’ve been with her since she was operating out of a small studio.

Hague explains that the closeness of the techs carries over to the customers because clients like coming in and seeing the same faces every time. “We make every appointment personal. We like to know what’s been happening with customers since we’ve seen them. We build relationships,” Hague says.

With the success Hague has seen, Adore Dolls Parlour will be franchising with a second salon opening in Brisbane early next year.