It often feels like women (especially) are on a constant quest to find the best nail spot in their city. I know from my own circle alone, that the topic of who has the best nails and where they get them done (and who does them!) will undoubtedly come up at some point, every. single. time. we hang out. But beyond the best deal, the best technician, or how instagrammable the space (and their work) is, comes the most important question that’s rarely asked first: how safe is it? How clean?
This is what drew me most to Barefoot Beauty Bar Toronto, a (fairly) new natural nail salon and beauty bar that’s located just over the bridge in the city’s up-and-coming Riverside neighbourhood. You can count on the interior to be cute af, but best of all it’s dedicated to providing luxe pampering with medical-grade health and safety. Naturally, the young woman behind it all–who is not only the founder but the in-house Head Chiropodist–was of great interest to me and I couldn’t wait to learn more about Emily Stock and her journey building the Barefoot Beauty Natural Nail Salon and Beauty Bar. Keep reading to get to know Emily and her local business!
Business Name: Barefoot Beauty: Natural Nail Salon & Beauty Bar
Name & Title: Emily Stock, Chiropodist and Founder of Barefoot Beauty
Education: Hons BSc (Kinesiology) from University of Waterloo, DCh (chiropody) from The Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Emily Stock: I am the founder of Barefoot Beauty: Natural Nail Salon & Beauty Bar, as well as the head chiropodist at East Toronto Foot Care. I split my time between providing a variety of medical foot care services at East Toronto Foot Care and running everything behind the scenes at Barefoot Beauty from ordering supplies to snapping shots for our Instagram account.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
ES: I started my business in the summer of 2017. I was inspired by searching for safe and healthy nail care spots for my foot care patients and quickly realizing the shocking lack of options available for people with health concerns. I realized that, alongside my medical foot care services, I could offer salon-level luxury manicures and pedicures with medical-grade health and safety.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
ES: I love being able to provide a safe, healthy, relaxing space which allows people to enjoy the simple luxury of a pedicure or manicure without having to compromise their health or wellbeing. When people walk in the door and tell me that they have been looking everywhere for a spot like this or when I find out that someone travelled all the way across the city to come see us, it really helps to reaffirm that what we are doing is important and filling a much needed gap in the beauty industry.
E7: What makes your business special?
ES: Barefoot Beauty is special in a few ways. As far as I am aware, we are the only exclusively waterless salon in the city and the only salon which is run by a foot specialist. My foot clinic, East Toronto Foot Care, is run out of the same location, so more complex foot concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business so far?
ES: It’s taken me a while, but I’ve learned that delegating tasks and relinquishing control is key to being efficient and not burning out. It’s sometimes hard to trust parts of your business in other people’s hands, but it’s necessary and can take a huge burden off of you and result in more growth and progress for the business.
E7: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a business owner?
ES: Hiring has been a huge challenge. I’m so lucky to have two awesome and highly skilled nail technicians working for me but it took a lot of searching to find people who understood how important our strict sterilization protocols are and who were on board with our health and wellness-focused approach.
E7: What was it about the Riverside neighbourhood that attracted you to the area for your business?
ES: I love that Riverside is both a rapidly growing and well-established neighbourhood. There are lots of exciting changes happening in Riverside and it’s great to be able to be a part of that. This neighbourhood is filled with the greatest people who are so passionate about supporting small business. The local BIA and surrounding businesses are also amazingly supportive and everyone truly wants to help each other succeed.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
ES: Don’t try to do it all. There are certain things best left to the pros. It will save you tons of time and mental energy, allowing you to focus on continually developing your business.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own beauty service-focused business?
ES: The beauty industry is always evolving. New products are always being released and new techniques are always being developed. Be sure to do your research with these new products and techniques, as it is often just an old thing being rebranded. You never want to excitedly invest in a whole new system, product, or service only to realize it’s just lipstick on a pig (I’m looking at you dip nails!)
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
ES: I wish I would have known not to try to tackle everything on my own. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the cost of opening a business and sometimes attempts to be thrifty can get the best of you. There were a few items I tried to DIY in order to save a buck (but) it often ended up costing me way more in time and mental energy. If you are thinking of tackling a project on your own, sit down and sort out the time and energy required. Know what your time is worth, and if it ends up taking up too much time, reach out to a pro.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in beauty service business to prepare for?
ES: The beauty service industry is very competitive. There seems to be a hair or nail salon on every corner. Be sure to create a unique identity for your business in order to stand out, not only to customers, but also to potential beauty service providers. Also, stay true to your brand — as tempting as it may seem, don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your key services because they are the things that drive your business and attract your core clientele. Trying to do too much will only stretch you thin and your business and services will suffer because of it.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
ES: Admittedly, I am still figuring a lot of that out, but I have a great support system through my partner, family, and friends who make sure I remember to eat after long days at the salon/clinic and selflessly volunteer their time to help out the business. I always try to stay on top of what other salons are doing, new technology that’s being released, and the latest medical research. Seeing this progress and innovation keeps me excited, motivated, and inspired.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
ES: When I first started researching for my business, I came across some amazing nail salons in the States run by women who were working hard to bring natural nail services to the mainstream. Poppy and Monroe in Nashville, tenoverten in NYC, and Spruce Nail Shop in Cincinnati were all major sources of inspiration and education for me as I developed my business. These businesses were some of the first ones to pop up in a time when no one was talking about how horrible the chemicals in acrylics were or how dangerous all those fumes could be to salon workers. They worked hard to educate the public and bring safer practices to the forefront of the nail industry. I’m also so inspired by other female business owners, such as the lovely ladies at Oma Chiropractic, the brilliant women at Mend Physio, and the inspiring Josephine at Framewrk (all local Riverside/Leslieville businesses), these women give me the confidence to tackle this crazy business world.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
ES: I always try to read the news once a day, even if it’s just skimming the headlines. I think it’s so important to be an informed citizen and it’s something I’ve tried hard to keep up even through this crazy first year in business. Otherwise, I try not to impose too strict of a schedule on myself for my home life. My work life is so strictly regulated by a schedule that I find bringing that into my own life can become more of a stressful task. I like keeping my other routines pretty fast and simple so I can take the time to rest and spend time with my family and friends.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
ES: I am always reading and searching for new ideas. Whether it be art blogs for colour inspiration, medical journals for the latest research, our awesome local BIA for business promotion ideas, or Instagram for nail trends, I’m always on the look out.
E7: Who is the Barefoot Beauty customer and why should we all book an appointment with you today?
ES: One of the main goals at Barefoot Beauty is to be fully inclusive so that any person will feel completely comfortable walking through our doors. If you have ever looked at that nail file and cringed at the nail debris on it or put your toes in a foot bath and immediately became paranoid about walking out with a fungal infection, this is the spot for you. We use a medical autoclave and sealed pouches to sterilize the tools and anything that can’t be sterilized is only used on one client and then disposed of. If you have ever become sick with the fumes at a nail salon or concerned by the amount of water used in your service, then this is the place for you. We don’t offer acrylic services and the polishes we use are at minimum 5-free, meaning that 5 of the most dangerous chemicals have been removed. We offer hot towel wraps instead of foot soaks to save 500+ litres of water a day! If you are pregnant, have a health concern, or just want to make sure you are honouring your health and wellbeing, then this is the spot for you!
To book your appointment at Barefoot Beauty, click HERE!
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)