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Vinyl Beauty Bar and Cute Nail Studio Add Personalized Design to Painted Nails

Get inspired by artful styles, hand-painted designs and nail trends for the new season

Decked in rainbow colors from top to bottom, known as the “Rainbow House,” Cute Nail Studio is known for having some of the most talented nail designers within Central Texas. Wanting to create a more inclusive environment for all, couple Jason Darling and Maria Russo opened their first of two shops in 2018.

“One of our biggest inspirations in starting the nail salon is that my husband likes to have his nails painted, and he likes fashion. Sometimes when we would go into the salons, people would be rude to him,” says Maria.

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As a result, none of the services in Cute Nail Studio are gendered. The salon also focuses more on artistic aspects, rather than your traditional salon pampering.

“We try to run it more like a tattoo studio. The time spent with the artist is a privilege,” says Maria. “You are paying them to sit down and have them share art with you, versus going on a spa day.” A unique approach for a salon, Maria has found this helps retain the most talented artists.

Specializing in hand-painted nail art, the salon expects to see 90s inspired florals, pastel plaids and hand-painted daisies, along with lots of neon-themed art, jellies, encapsulated nails with textured sprinkles and some beach vibes and flamingoes for the spring and summer season.

With a belief that people can express themselves through their nails, it’s common for patrons to request glitter designs, stripes and other personalized requests.

Miles away, Vinyl Beauty Bar is putting a creative spin on nail art, with an emphasis on music. The salon is known for incorporating albums of local artists into nail art. Inspired by a love for music, husband and wife team Tanita and Michael Austin Harpell own the salon. Both are musicians and former DJs. Michael collects albums, with hundreds upon hundreds in stock, some of which he sells in the salon.

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“We have a lot of musicians come in for nail art,” says Tanita. “Also, their girlfriends, moms and friends … and a lot of local business owners. Some of the local band members will come here specifically and ask for designs from their record album. It’s a big music scene and a big community that we are involved in.”

100% vegan, everything within the nail studio is plant-based and considered non-toxic. An environmentally friendly pampering is something Tanita says customers are interested in, especially during the last two years.

“All of our services come with a really deep conditioning treatment and a mask for your hands,” says Tanita. “I think that since the pandemic has happened, people still have to be on camera and they want their hands to look good.”

Having been in the industry for 25 years, Tanita notices a lot of continuing trends that don’t go away. Selecting colors based on how people feel about each season is one of those trends. As a result, for spring and summer, she’s expecting a lot of yellow tones with Tiffany blue tones, and likely some sea-green tones.

On top of timeless tradition, trends for 2022 appear to take a bold turn with a minimalist background, including a new take on French tip nails featuring bright colors and designs on them.

Another style involves something called “negative space” where you have a clean nail with a neutral background to place a few pieces of nail art on.

“Little pops of color and artwork are key,” says Tanita. “It’s not going to be the whole nail. That’s negative space art.”

Textured nails are a third trend the salon is seeing. Whether it is the texture of a rock or a crystal — customers come in with an inspiration and receive nail art with a similar surface.

Adding to the music theme, all services are named after musical artists, including a manicure bearing the name of Houston-native Beyoncé’s Lemonade album.

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Overall, with an estimated 56,000+ nail salons in the U.S., and an estimated 20.05 million Americans getting a manicure at least four or more times per year, it’s likely that both Cute Nail Salon and Vinyl Beauty Bar offer two of the most unique strategies within the gel nail art space.