Heather Brewer and Catherine Fain were friends with a vision - to create a healthier nail care experience. Heather is an accomplished attorney and mom of two and Catherine had a successful marketing career in the fashion and retail industries. The two friends realized that there was a need for a more health-focused nail salon that made maintenance fun without sacrificing convenience.
Heather and Catherine opened up PAINTBASE in 2015. This immaculate and cutting-edge nail salon utilizes products with clean ingredient profiles to ensure each one of their clients can experience the highest quality care in an environment that is healthy and safe. PAINTBASE now has three thriving North Carolina locations in Glenwood South, North Hills and Parkwest Village.
This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with these two inspirational entrepreneurs about their journey with PAINTBASE and how Frederick and Booker contributed to their success.
Q. What prompted you to open PAINTBASE?
My partner Heather and I realized that neither of us truly enjoyed our nail care maintenance experience, and after some research realized that there was a huge hole in the industry. We both wanted a salon that was clean, stylish and health-conscious - while also being affordable and convenient. The more we learned about the industry, the more we realized we could make a difference. We feel like we're setting new standards for what the nail care experience should be, as well as creating an excellent work environment for our staff.
Q. What has been your biggest challenge as a small business owner?
Every day brings us a new challenge! I think we wish there were a few more hours in the day. Even with two people focusing all of their attention on the business, we still feel like there's always so much more to do each day. We want to balance our time managing the business by actually getting out there and growing and sharing our mission - it’s definitely a constant “push and pull” lifestyle as an entrepreneur. You're so invested in your concept and mission that it's often hard to delegate.
Q. What has been the most unexpected experience about starting and owning PAINTBASE?
Honestly, while we really felt strongly about our concept and the market need, we've really been blown away by the positive feedback we get. We field calls from all over the country, and even from around the world, from people who are interested in opening a PAINTBASE in their city. We consistently hear "we have been waiting for this concept” from all of them. We really believe that our focus on health and customer care is important and it's so rewarding that it resonates with our clients. We're so grateful that we're filling a need for people and hopefully making their nail maintenance more enjoyable.
Q. What advice would you give to other people looking to make the jump to entrepreneurship?
It's not for the faint-hearted! Absolutely do your research and build a comprehensive business plan. Inevitably, things will go wrong but you have to be able to think on your feet and pivot to a more successful position. Having a partner is amazing, you share the workload and risk, but it's also really important to pick the right one. Heather and I are really fortunate to have each other to lean on when things are stressful and to celebrate our victories. Our skill sets are very synergistic; Heather comes from a corporate law background, while I have come from the retail and marketing world. We both play to our strengths and it works really well as we are working to build PAINTBASE as a business.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for how you run PAINTBASE?
We really approached the business first from a consumer viewpoint. We learned so much about health and wellness in our research as we were opening and were really inspired to educate our customers on why this is something they should care about. We admire businesses like Beautycounter for their creation of a community around their products and goals, and that's the kind of trust and communication we want with our clients. I also think about the businesses like Rescue Spa, who are flat-out experts in their field and go above and beyond to connect and consult with their customers.
I want PAINTBASE to be that kind of resource for nail care. We want to be the leaders. We are super-inspired by working moms. Heather is one. Almost all of our staff is female and many of them are moms. Their hard work and ability to smile through it all is a constant source of inspiration for Heather and me. In addition to wanting to create a better nail salon, we really wanted to be a standout place to work and our staff seriously makes us even more dedicated to the mission.
Q. How do you learn what your customers want? How do you get their feedback? Has there been any insight from customers that helped you meet their needs better?
Social media is one of our most direct lines of communication with our customers. We analyze what kind of pictures and posts are getting the most engagement and we take note when a trend is really resonating with our base. We also try to be really active and engaging with them through our social media channels; we try to answer questions and comment on their posts too. We use surveys from time to time to engage with our customers and make sure we've got their needs covered and if we are hitting the mark as far as service and quality.
We've also enabled customer feedback through Frederick software which allows customers to rate their experience and offer direct feedback. Any time we have passive or negative feedback we actually try to look at it as a positive, because this feedback gives us the knowledge we need to address issues or make improvements to our process or services.
Q. What role has technology played in the success of PAINTBASE?
Technology is a big piece of what sets us apart from traditional nail salons. Our customers love the ability to book an appointment online, they don't have to call or take a gamble on trying to walk in. They can book anytime from anywhere - even from their phone! Using Booker also allows us to be really efficient in staffing and in our payroll process. We are able to track our busy days and times, see our percentage of schedule booked, analyze historical booking data and plan ahead. It takes a lot of the guesswork out for us.
We've implemented Frederick at all of our salons now and can see how effective it is in filling our last minute openings or slow days. Again, it takes the guesswork out of the equation and it even does the legwork to actually get the message out to customers. That frees up our time to really grow our business in other ways.
Q. We adore your Instagram page! Do you have any tips or tricks on how to use Instagram effectively?
Thank you! We try to make sure our grid is cohesive, I think that's a really great way to attract new followers. If it looks like a mess they won't have the same motivation to click through the images or hit the follow button. Planning ahead is really helpful too. It doesn't have to be a months-out thing, but investing a little time at the beginning of the week can pay off! Also: LIGHTING!
To check out PAINTBASE’s dreamy Instagram page, click here!
Q. What do you see for the future of PAINTBASE, and your industry in general?
We are continuing to grow, we've got some exciting opportunities coming up and we can't wait to introduce our concept to new markets. With each new salon, we're finding new ways to make the experience even better for our customers and staff. We want to be the trusted name in nail care.
I think you'll continue to see a push towards healthier products and a better experience industry-wide. Consumers are becoming more and more educated on their health and what they're putting on their nails and we're happy to be a part of spreading the word. Salons will also have to assess their customer service and service experience as more and more people turn to online resources to review and rate salons.