Bored with blank walls while waiting for your nails to dry? Check out three new salons to where you can relax, shop and dine while getting your beauty fix.
619B Bukit Timah Road 6469-0722
Open: 10am - 8pm (Tue-Sun)
Why waste time staring into space while getting a manicure when you can be admiring artwork or shopping for vintage homeware instead?
That, at least, is what Zoe Teh, 27, asked herself when she was designing her nail parlour earlier this year.
The result is Thumbelina, a nail parlour that sells dainty porcelain china trinkets, teatime nibbles, and also doubles as a mini-gallery for artworks by a local artist.
"I wanted a place where people can get out of their busy schedules, really relax and notice the finer things in life," explains Ms Teh, a business finance graduate from the Singapore Management University.
The beauty nut knew she wanted to run her own lifestyle business ever since she was in university, so she clocked in a year of experience as a full-time manicurist two years ago, and then worked in a tuition centre to pool together some savings before embarking on her own venture.
The salon's six armchairs are well spaced out in an airy and rather girlishly kitted out 950sq ft second floor space of a shophouse stretch near Coronation Plaza.
"I was looking for somewhere quiet, a bit quaint and with lots of greenery," she says.
True enough, though the salon sits right next to a traffic-laden stretch of Bukit Timah Road, its large windows block out the noise completely - a contrast that makes one feel even more content sitting serenely while the rest of the world whizzes right by.
The abstract paintings are by engineer-turned-artist Tang Mun Kit, a friend's father.
Artworks range from $250 for a piece from a series of specially comissioned nail-related art pieces on blueprint paper ($1,000 for a set of four) to $6,000 for a large canvas.
And if you fancy any of the wee porcelain trinkets lying around the shop, they are for sale too.
A rotating array of cupcakes in flavours like guinness and orange are purchased from nearby Five and Dime and Plain Vanilla eateries daily, and ginger or green tea is served free, but you can also opt for Earl Grey or peppermint teas at $3.80 a pot.
"I've always wanted to be in the lifestyle business, but I wanted to do something a little different. The market is a little saturated if I opened just a cafe, or if I just did nails, but with Singaporeans more open to art and new concepts, I decided to fuse all my interests together," she says.
Her one-year stint as a full-time manicurist helped her refine her business strategies too, she says.
Grouses from men who are typically levied with higher prices for nailcare services were something that she encountered frequently at her former workplace and kept in mind now, which is why male customers pay exactly the same price as females at Thumbelina.
"When men come in for manicure and pedicure services, it's more for health concerns than for beauty," she says of a growing segment of clients.
Men currently make up 25 per cent of her patrons.
The rest are mostly expatriate mothers who nip in on slow afternoons and residents who live nearby who come in for a weekend treat.
The entire place can also be booked for bridal showers, birthdays or corporate events for a minimum spend of $58 per person for a group of four to 10.
Once the Thumbelina brand is more established, Ms Teh hopes to open other beauty and lifestyle stores in the long run.
"But they will all be done with a twist," she says.
This article was first published in The Business Times.