By Shermakaye Bass
Green Right Now
When Nidhi Lal founded Los Angeles’s tres-green, tres-chic Recess Organic Nail Spa two years ago, she knew she wanted to target an upscale, conscientious clientele (read = Hollywood’s A-list); she never expected that followers like actress Jeanne Tripplehorn would tout her services while walking the Golden Globe Awards red carpet.
But sure enough, as Lal watched E! Channel’s coverage Sunday night, she heard Tripplehorn mention Recess’s pedi/mani treatments as part of the Big Love actress’s GG look. Ditto actress Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays the youngest wife to Tripplehorn’s “first wife” on HBO’s Big Love series. Goodwin also mentioned Recess at the event.
Since she opened Recess, Lal has acquired quite the celeb following, including Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Emily Deschanel, Alicia Silverstone, Queen Latifah and Angela Bassett, among others.
So, what’s the secret to her success?
According to Lal, Recess was the first entirely “green” nail spa and waxing service in Los Angeles. A totally green-built structure (all done according to LEED standards), it takes a tender approach, both inside and out. All of the products used by her staff are either non-toxic or organic, from organic waxing products to a sanitation system called Autoclave, which is used by hospitals and other medical professions to sanitize instruments. The salon also has its own line of products that are paraben- and dye-free and made from essential oil blends
“Growing up, I’ve always been obsessed with beauty products,” says Lal, adding that when she was in college her father fell ill, and “I found myself visiting spas more and more as a refuge, something to get my mind off of things. After he passed away, I reassessed my own life and decided I wanted to devote it to something that I was passionate about, had meaning, and would hopefully make a difference. I knew I wanted to go green, and the more I researched, the greener I wanted to go.”
Soon after, she was introduced to the LEED guidelines, “and Recess had a life of its own after that,” she says.
Lal also knew the dirty little secret about nail products and many beauty products.
“Nail salons are in fact very toxic spaces. Typical nail salons are cramped (and) unventilated, with harsh chemicals and nail dust everywhere. First and foremost, the ventilation systems in those places are not effective ,” she says. “I actually did consult a LEED AP when designing and conceptualizing Recess , and he was literally disgusted by the nail filings that were airborne and being inhaled by other customers.”
Plus, many of the associated products – the traditional ones – are chock full of toxics, especially polishes and nail treatments themselves, which often contain the solvent toluene, formaldehyde, camphor. The industry also uses some hazardous disinfectants.
“This isn’t even mentioning the repercussions of doing acrylic nails,” Lals says. “Also, typical callus removers are so harsh that I was told that they were only a few ingredients away from being anti-freeze. No wonder the technicians wear gloves when applying something like that!”
Spurred by good press straight out of the gate, Lal and Recess quickly attracted pregnant women, cancer survivors, clients with allergies and sensitive systems, along with greenies from the entertainment industry. Some clients have discovered Recess through mentions in People, Allure and other magazines as well as television shows.
And while the green movement is going strong in Hollywood, to Lal’s knowledge hers is still the only “completely green nail spa in Los Angeles.”
“We have businesses that have followed in our footsteps in terms of going organic and non-toxic, but I am not sure what their business practices are in terms of recycling [or use of Autclave cleaning system]. … On the other spectrum, I’ve seen another nail salon that was constructed completely green, but their products are not. I try to go green whenever I can. Times are tough right now, though, and it is getting more difficult to make those choices due to budget constraints, so I completely understand when a business cannot build green or choose green products.”
Recently, Lal was asked to consult for the Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and that experience that confirmed for her that their is a movement (if a slow one) toward creating green standards for nail salons. ” I am not sure when they will pass, but it is definitely in the works.”
Lal was originally in the real estate business, but given the life-changing experience with her father’s death – and the unique role that spas and beauty services played in her grieving process – she jumped ship, diving headlong into Recess.
Her next move: To expand the services and perhaps the building itself.
“We recently just expanded to waxing, and I think over the course of the next few weeks we will be doing massage as well. Facials are a little more complicated, but they will definitely take a lot more research with products. Hair care seems a little intimidating to me right now, but it’s possible that we will have it in the future as well.”
The waxing products are all organic and sugar-based, containing only chamomile, sugar, lemon, tea tree oil and water. It’s not only perfect for people with really sensitive skin (prone to allergies, break-outs) but for anyone who likes to leave a waxing feeling smooth as silk.
Keep track of Recess’s evolution by checking out their website.
Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network