A Manicurist’s Fairy Tale
A pair of sisters write their own fairy tale success story with quick-and-easy manicuring at Tootsies in Denver. BY ANGELA LU
Once upon a time, a pair of sisters named Castle and Roxy were getting some speedy manicures done at a San Francisco salon when afterwards, one realized how badly her own city of Denver was in need of such a clean and convenient salon. She also realized at that moment that she should be the one to open that salon.
So begins the fairy tale of Tootsies, the little nail shop that has grown into a local hotspot with a loyal and every-growin clientele near Denver’s Washington Park since opening in November 2006.
Prior to her epiphany, Roxy Searcy had been working as a hairstylist on a bustling block of Washington Park’s business district where she was often asked by customers where they could get quality manicures nearby. (The salon she worked at did not offer them.) What troubled Roxy, however, was that she didn’t have an answer. Nobody on her block, in fact, gave manicures.
“She thought this was crazy,” friend and Tootsies manager Emily Reynolds explained. “Somebody could be having a pretty good business.”
That somebody, the sisters decided in San Francisco, should be them.
It all now seems like some sort of manicurist’s fairy tale, a salon that just fatefully came into place, because after Roxy’s epiphany in San Francisco, she then stumbled across an empty storefront on a busy street at home back in Denver that would become the location of Tootsies.
The space was small, but the location seemed ideal. Success, the women knew, was inevitable.
“It’s got a lot of foot traffic and it was never a question of whether it would be successful,” Reynolds said.
YOU’VE GOT THE LOOK
To say Tootsies is a fairy tale is one thing, but to see that Tootsies is a fairy tale is another. Step inside the petite, 600-square-foot space adn you can’t help but notice the fairy tale-esque row of crystal chaneliers hanging from the ceiling above the manicure bar and the Tiffany blue-painted walls complete with white borders, resembling a classic Tiffany’s gift box tied with a ribbon.
“We wanted something that was going to stand out,” Reynolds said. “You go into some places and there’s nothing. We wanted to be known for being a nail salon. And we wanted it to be girly and pretty.”
Though Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a major influence ultimately in the design of the space, the sisters had in fact never seen Audrey Hepburn’s tour-de-force performance until after they decided on an art deco and Tiffany blue theme.
“We just love New York, and we love art deco,” Castle said.
The retro ambiance of Tootsies is complete with a black and white checkered floor, and several gigantic canvasses of Audrey Hepburn, and the Empire and Chrysler buildings, which were painted by Castle and Roxy’s mother, an artist.
FAST, EASY, AND SIMPLE
Though the design of the shop is ornate, Tootsies is at its core all about simplicity. The Basic concept the sisters came up with for the store can be summed up in a few words: sanitary, fun, cute, and quick.
First and foremost, they wanted a salon that followed the utmost sanitation practices, especially with countless expose reports on salons appearing in the media in recent years.
New files and buffers are used for each client and after each use, their jetless sinks are sprayed with barbicide and alcohol, and then scrubbed down with soap and rinsed.
They also wanted a fun and cute atmosphere, hence the decor, the always present American pop music (everything from Michael Jackson to OK Go) and a small town friendly feel. After all, it’s a family owned business.
And lastly, they wanted to provide simple, quick-and-easy services. You can only purchase 11 types of services, which cover all the basics. the only two non-nail services offered are eyebrow and lip waxing.
Just about the only thing that’s not simple is the variety of brands the salon uses. Reynolds says Roxy wanted only the best line of each product.
“We don’t do anything super different,” Reynolds said. “We just do really good work. Clean, that’s our biggest thing. And we offer good service.”
THE HAPPY ENDING…OR START
To call Tootsies a fairy tale, however, perhaps isn’t so fair to the sisters because it belies the hard work and effort they have put into their business. Just like the brothers Grimm, the Sisters Searcy, it’s safe to say, have written their own fairy tale, and yes…it does have a happy ending.
According to Reynolds, business is constantly growing. They went from three nail techs to eight at the Washington Park location, and opened a second location in the city on Tennyson Street this February.
“We’re just constantly getting busier,” Reynolds said. “People really enjoy it. It’s comfortable, and it’s pretty fun.”