The charming Sugarcoat Nail salon invites customers in for a relaxing and creative experience on W. 12th Street and Lamar.
By Caroline Cook
Photos by Dahlia Dandashi
Oncologist Sanaz Bill and pharmacist Rebecca Farrah founded Sugarcoat in December 2012. Friends first, the two always discussed going into business together. Every two weeks, the pair would get their nails done, but what started as a bi-monthly relaxation treat eventually turned into a business. “It was our escape, our girl time, to just relax and catch up,” Bill says.
When the two began brainstorming ideas for business opportunities in downtown Austin, they found a need for a basic boutique-style nail salon. They knew they wanted a girly, chic and friendly environment within the city that would offer unique nail designs at a reasonable price. Together, they decided to open Sugarcoat.
As health care professionals, cleanliness has been their top priority. Unlike many salons, Sugarcoat doesn’t have in-ground drainage or use massage chairs, which they say can easily spread bacteria. Instead, they use basins for pedicures.
Sugarcoat promotes being an all-natural salon. All of their polishes are classified as “the five-free,” meaning the polishes are free of harmful chemicals such as toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor. Stocked with products from Farmhouse Fresh, an all-natural body care line based in Frisco, Texas, Sugarcoat offers seasonal pedicure packages, such as a rum butter pedicure for fall and a red velvet pedicure for Valentine’s Day. Their signature manicure or pedicure starts off with an all natural milk and honey soak, which moisturizes and softens skin. Followed with a vanilla and brown sugar scrub, finishing with a natural, antioxidant hydrating body butter.
The most popular aspect of Sugarcoat is their unique nail art. The Sugarcoat team works with customers to come up with a custom designs.
Nail artist Sarah Kane has been with Sugarcoat since July 2013, after starting her career at the salon as an intern while attending Baldwin Beauty School in Austin. Kane discovered her passion for nail design when she was nine after her grandmother sent her Klutz craft books. Originally from Seattle, Kane did her college friends’ nails and turned her hobby into a job after moving to Austin. Bill and Farrah reached out to her after coming across her Instagram account, which featured her impressive nail art designs.“I take nails probably a little too seriously,” Kane says. Her passion is evident when looking at her original, intricately-designed negative space glitter nails.
When customers are unsure where to start, Kane recommends browsing the Sugarcoat Instagram until something catches the eye. Otherwise, her favorite go-to designs include leopard print, glitter and negative space. And for those worried that having short nails will limit their design options, don’t fret. The technicians at Sugarcoat see short nails as a challenge, not an obstacle.“I’ve painted Olaf on a four-year-old’s toe,” Kane says.
When it comes to nail care, Kane says, “hydrated hands are happy hands.” She recommends moisturizing daily. Her personal hand care regimen includes massaging coconut oil on her hands and cuticles each night before bed.
The women who work at Sugarcoat embrace creativity and each customer’s personal style. Whether it’s a quick polish change or a scenic field of wildflowers, the Sugarcoat team works with clients to put their best nails forward.