Small Biz Spotlight: Base Coat Nail Salon in Denver, CO

In a beauty world that’s become increasingly health-conscious, all that’s green is gold. When Base Coat Nail Salon founder Tran Wills was unable to find a nontoxic nail salon in her hometown of Denver, Colorado back in 2013, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Turns out she wasn’t the only one seeking a green alternative to the traditional mani/pedi –Base Coat is now a Mile High staple when it comes time to #treatyoself.

From the ultra hip decor to the glass of rosé you’re offered upon arrival, Base Coat is anything but your typical neighborhood nail salon. We sat down with Wills to hear more about what it takes to be a true boss lady and build a business you believe in.

Why did you decide to start your business? Tell us your backstory!

The conception was when I was 8 ½ months pregnant with my youngest child, Hesh, I wanted to go get one last pedicure before I gave birth and honestly I really didn’t know what my toes looked like at that point. EEEKS! I walked into a nail salon closest to my house and while sitting there waiting for my appointment, my nose started bleeding and became very nauseous. I knew something was not right, got up, and left. After that, it was still a couple of years of researching non-toxic nail products and the nail salon market – at the time, there were just a handful of nontoxic nails salons in the country and none here in Colorado! One day a little space came up for rent on Tennyson Street in 2013, I bit the bullet which I was terrified to do, took the space and Base Coat became one of the first true non-toxic nail salon in Colorado and only a handful in the country at the time using clean and safe products in services, 5-Free nail polish and committed in not doing gel polish with UV lights or acrylics.

Unfortunately, our space was put up for sale by the owner less than a year later. During that time I was hunting for a new space and going back and forth if I should even reopen at all, I met my now best friends and business partners Ali Elman and Sarah Simon. With a fresh start and collective new vision for Base Coat, we found the perfect location in the Lumina Building in LoHi right down the street from Ali and Sarah’s other business, Black Eye Coffee Shop. Without Ali and Sarah as partners and their incredible knowledge, backgrounds, and expertise in business and hospitality, Base Coat Nail Salon would 100% not be what it is today!

Currently we have 3 locations open, two in Denver (LoHi and Stapleton) and one in Los Angeles located in the Arts District, with a fourth location opening later this Fall in L.A  on Fairfax and Melrose. We plan on growing to more cities in the future, but right now our main focus is growing our Base Coat Nail Salon brand of non-toxic, green beauty products and 8-Free nail polish that we use at all our locations. These products have been a huge success for us and are in high demand from our customers and other nail salons wanting to adopt our same ethos of becoming a non-toxic nail salon. It has been really amazing to see the shift in the beauty industry and companies becoming more and more conscientious on the products they’re creating. There is a high demand right now from consumers who want safe and non-toxic products for themselves and their families.

Why do you love doing business here in Denver?

Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in America with no sign of it slowing down anytime soon – and for good reason! The culture and quality of life in Denver is unmatched to anywhere else. Denver is vibrant with an incredible art, music, shopping, and food scene. We still have the hustle and bustle of a growing city but when we need to slow down, we have the mountains to escape and recharge. What makes us love Denver most is that we have an extremely supportive community especially to small business owners!

What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?  

We have a lot of positive feedback 99.9% of the time but when we do get a negative one, we as owners take it very seriously and always reach out to the customer personally so we can get their honest feedback. For us as a small business feedback positive or negative is crucial to us and very humbling. Feedback is the only way we can grow as a successful small business and learn from our shortcomings.

What’s your advice for other business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?

Don’t let fear of failing stop you from pursuing your dream of owning a business you believe in and that you know in your heart is worth doing. Failure is inevitable when you own your own business, we’ve learned to accept and embrace it. Every single time you fail, get back up, keep moving, learning, and evolving from that failure that in return will always open another door to another amazing opportunity or idea. ALWAYS trust your gut about what is best for your business and hire people who are experts in their fields to help you grow your business – you can’t do it all! Surround yourself with people who inspire you daily and most importantly, self-care has really been an integral part of the success of not only our business but also our personal lives. Don’t forget to really take care of yourself. Take an hour each day to do something for yourself that makes you feel good and recharge. That can be meditating, start or finish a new book, take a bath, or go get a pedicure. Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup.

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