You never know when life-changing moments are going to occur. For Andrea Vieira, it happened while she was getting her nails done.
As she looked at the stool she was sitting on, she noticed it was in pretty rough shape. The dirtiness was more than a little off-putting.
She was chatting on the phone with her friend at the time, and that’s when it hit the two of them: what if they could perfect the nail salon experience? So that’s what they set out to do.
Within three weeks, Vieira quit her job, put her house on the market, and moved from Seattle back to the place where she had called home for many years – Washington D.C. The goal was to create a salon where people would feel welcome, feel at home, and could be confident in the cleanliness and the service they were receiving.
In 2013, they opened the nailsaloon, Washington D.C.’s first luxury nail salon and cocktail parlor. True to their vision, the nailsaloon uses non-toxic nail products, tools that are single-use or medically sterilized, offers a scent-free environment and a complementary beverage to each customer.
The concept was a hit. They achieved such success that they expanded and opened a second salon in 2018.
Things were going well, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vieira and her friend realized they had different views on the direction of the business and the pair decided it was best to go their separate ways.
In seeking a loan to buy out her partner, Vieira was referred by another financial institution to CRF. Eventually, Vieira received an SBA 7(a) loan from CRF to gain 100% control of the business.
“CRF was so gracious in walking me through the loan process and explaining terms that I was not familiar with,” Vieira said. “They were so helpful and so caring and didn’t make me feel like I was just another customer.”
Vieira intends to scale the business even further and has plans to open a third location. She will also continue to use her business to make a positive impact in the lives of her employees and in the community.
Vieira has a staff of about 70, and if a new hire does not yet have their cosmetology license, the nailsaloon will pay for the employee to go to school to earn one. Staff members pay back the tuition, but after one year of employment, they are reimbursed.
The nailsaloon also has a strong commitment to the community by donating 3-5% of their annual profits to charity. Two of the local organizations they work closely with are the DC Coalition for the Homeless and MENTOR Maryland DC.
As she continues to build the nailsaloon and strengthen her community, Vieira is grateful for the opportunity CRF was able to provide.
“It really changed the course of my life,” she said. “Thanks to this loan I am now able to not just keep this business going, but make it grow and give more people jobs and empower women who are for the first time getting a bonus in their life. The cascade effect is just enormous.”