We talked to: BAM Nail Studio
Hi, Alaina! Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your business, and why you chose downtown Northampton as a location?
Hi! I’ve been in the beauty industry for many years, and was a makeup artist in New York. I worked for various companies, such as DryBar and Birchbox, and have also always been a nail enthusiast. I’ve always enjoyed the creative aspect of nails, from the color choices to the artwork. I spent 14 years in Brooklyn, then moved up here in April of 2021. My family is in the area, and I felt it was time to move to a place that would allow me to start my business, but also have access to the things I am accustomed to in NYC such as culture, diversity, and a vibrant community. Being able to get to both NYC and Boston easily was also appealing, while still being in close proximity to nature, social activities, and a great school system for my 8-year-old daughter. Northampton just checked off so many boxes in that respect, and really put me in the headspace of starting my own nail business.
Though it was the one part of the beauty industry I’d never done professionally, I approached it with passion, skill from practicing for years, and plenty of knowledge. When I moved here, I realized there’s nothing quite like what I am offering when it comes to services and the type of atmosphere. This really inspired me to create what I felt was missing in the area. I offer some different services and try hard to focus on sustainable practices as much as possible. I love having an influx of new clients, but also establishing ongoing relationships. I just feel like this area is ideal for that, and people really appreciate the environment I’ve created. They can feel safe, relaxed, and free to either chat or have peace and quiet—I love catering to their individual needs.
Before settling on my current space, I looked around a bit, but nothing seemed quite right. I wanted to be close to downtown, but not necessarily right on Main Street. The space I am in is part of the Healing Collective, which has businesses that offer electrolysis, massage, craniosacral therapy, and midwifery services. I also like the fact that people can access my space a bit more easily on Pleasant Street. My goal is to eventually grow and expand, while building on my current model of creating a nurturing, welcoming environment. When it comes down to it, I am taking care of a part of your body—it’s a very close, intimate experience, and you should feel at ease and relaxed throughout your appointment. Granted, some people also prefer to be in and out, and I’m also fine with that; I just want to be flexible and go with what my clients’ needs are at the moment.
What are some challenges you’ve experienced as well as some positive things that have transpired in the past few years?
First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that I was bringing something to Northampton that people were looking for. Though plenty of changes have transpired in Northampton since the pandemic started, it’s not a unique situation, as changes are happening everywhere, both positive and negative. I wanted to do plenty of research in the community, and get a sense of what people might be interested in and what their needs are. In terms of the industry, many people were doing their nails at home. There’s pros and cons to that, of course; it’s definitely easier and more efficient for some, but others might have allergies to certain products and also just miss the experience of having a professional take care of them. I really wanted to encourage people to take time for self-care. It’s about maintenance as well as giving oneself a bit of a luxury experience. We all deserve that, especially these days.
I also offer some services that are quite unique to this area. For example, I’m a gel-only studio, which means I only offer gel services. I do dry manicuring and extensive cuticle work as a foundation to all my services. I offer gel manicures, but also Gel-X and Structured Manicures, which are new for the area but the most popular in the industry right now. You can visit my services page for more information!
What are some exciting things coming up for the business?
I’m looking forward to fall and to the students returning so that I can share what I do with them, as well as bringing in the fall colors and artwork! I am also really hoping to connect with Smith Vocational’s cosmetology program so that I could possibly bring on an apprentice or two as I begin to grow. Ultimately, my goal is to open a school that would teach nail technicians how to make this their career and help them open their own businesses. There’s nothing like that in Western Mass, and I want to help provide people in the community with jobs that are fulfilling, artistic, and creative. That’s phase two, but I’m very excited at the prospect of it!
From there, I envision opening multiple locations so that my school could also employ those. I want to support the city and be intertwined with it. I would love to have a line of merchandise at some point—it’s another way for me to share my creativity and artistic side. I also just love continuing to create stronger relationships with my clients, as well as reach new people. It makes me feel so good to be able to be there for them, not just as their nail technician, but also as an outlet if they just want to vent and feel heard while they are in my space.
As business owners, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
For one, I enjoy doing my own nails! I also love spending time with my daughter and our wonderful two-year-old dog. We take so much pleasure in experiencing the area around us and exploring new things. We have a beautiful community of friends and schoolmates we enjoy spending time with, so that’s been a huge source of joy and support. I also enjoy riding horses when I’m able to break away from everyday obligations. It’s something we missed greatly when we were living in New York!
And finally... What’s your favorite summer food and/or beverage?
I feel like in the summer, I indulge in seafood, and my go-to is definitely the lobster roll. I also really enjoy grilling anything that can go on a grill! A fruity cocktail is also lovely when enjoyed with friends while watching movies outside—though with the crazy weather this summer, that’s been a little challenging.