I never thought I would say a nail salon would be a game changer, but that was before there was Poppy & Monroe. It will be tough to get an appointment soon, because once you get your nails done here, you’ll never want to go anywhere else. It’s that good. The salon itself is drop-dead gorgeous, which is no surprise considering owners Sherri Coates and Karen Kops, both have backgrounds in interior design. From the minute you walk through the pink lacquered door of this 100+ year-old Germantown home, you’re transported to a cool, modern, relaxing space that’s luxurious without being pretentious. You’re going to want to spend a lot of time here.
Sherri and Karen are savvy entrepreneurs who have done their homework on bringing the latest environmentally conscious salon trends to Nashville. Don’t expect to soak your hands and feet in water here. This salon uses waterless services, and in doing so, will save an average of 15,000 gallons of water in a year. I was sold on this salon after a quick 15-minute polish application. After six days, I only had one tiny chip. My nails are typically a wreck after two or three days, so to get six days from regular polish is unreal. This is a testament to the products they’re using and their skilled, knowledgeable staff.
Poppy & Monroe isn’t your average nail salon. This pampering, atmosphere and superior product comes with a price. But to me, it’s a price worth paying to know I’m using products and services that are good for me and for the environment.
Here, Sherri and Karen answer 12 questions about the salon, its services and what Poppy & Monroe retail goodies are coming very soon.
How did you and Karen meet?
Interestingly enough, at the BDNY (Boutique Design) hospitality trade show in NYC last year. Karen was attending the show after just leaving her VP post at a large hospitality firm. The company I was a VP for competed with hers for major hotel brand programs on the product and interiors side. She came to my booth and we realized quickly we were both working out of Nashville, which is unusual for our industry with the extensive travel required. It took a few more months for us to even get together here in town, but once we did, the ideas to possibly collaborate together started flowing rather quickly.
What did you both do prior to founding Poppy & Monroe?
Sherri: I graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles with a Merchandise Marketing degree. While in college, I interned for a west coast based department store called Bullock's, similar to what Nordstrom is today. That started my retail buying days early and I was an exec for way too many departments, specialty and mass chains to include here. When the Internet boom happened, I launched my company, Coates Consulting Inc., and started online initiatives for many of these same retail accounts and fashion brands. A few years into consulting, I met the woman who pretty much changed the hospitality industry to the white duvets AKA the Westin Heavenly Bed for Starwood, versus those suspicious dark bedspreads. :-) I was going to design and market that line at Retail for her, but ended up helping her extend her existing brand to work even closer with all the major hotel brands such as Starwood, Hilton, Marriott and so on. I ended up signing with two more large hospitality firms basically designing soft goods (bedding, window treatments, anything textile and fabric related) for many of those brands through my client's respective companies. I also do side residential projects when they're interested in nature. I prefer designing modern and contemporary spaces in general.
Karen: My background is in textile design. I love anything pattern and color related! My career started with Macy's in their product development department in New York City and moved through various tenures at well-known textile companies. My last corporate position was leading the design and marketing charge for the Hospitality branch of Hunter Douglas Window Fashions. While I loved my work, I felt a calling to do something entrepreneurial and as such I started a consulting company to assist clients with product development, digital marketing and design. In addition to working with corporate clients, I also started an interiors firm focusing on residential and contract design projects. My aesthetic is definitely eclectic with a focus on blending architectural details with clean, modern furnishings. Layering is key to a well-designed space.
What made you choose Germantown for your first salon?
We were scouting multiple location options, Germantown always being on the list. I drove by this home Memorial Day weekend and saw the biggest realty sign I've ever seen (it was a sign for sure!). The very next morning, we took a look and made an offer that same week. Germantown is the perfect blend of urban live/work lifestyle, young to retired professionals and families, and it draws from multiple nearby neighborhoods such as East Nashville where Karen lives, and 12th South where I live. The ballpark being there is an added bonus, as are the continuing slew of unique restaurants and spaces that continue to open. We feel so grateful to be in such a vibrant neighborhood!
You’re located on Monroe Street, so where does “Poppy” come from?
We wanted to pay ode to all these Presidential named streets, and Karen's son Monty's name just happens to be Montgomery Monroe, so it seemed that much more fitting. We both love Poppy flowers. They are beautiful in color, fun, fresh and evoke happiness.
What type of experience should customers expect?
Karen’s and my backgrounds in hospitality taught us well about the "entire experience" of what authentic hospitality and luxury means. From the minute someone walks through our Magenta Manicure door, (yes it's an actual color) they will see every loving detail we poured over to create the ideal blend of comfort and repose in the space itself. We have so little time to truly "get away” in this hectic world of ours, we want to make sure every customer feels truly pampered each and every time they visit us. Upon entering we will offer a warm herbal neck wrap and invite you to sit back and recline in one of our custom made chairs we searched the globe for. Throughout the services, our artists will use our custom made, locally sourced organic soaks, scrubs and lotions that Karen worked on so closely with our local partner over many months to ensure their quality, and to perfect our signature scent of rose and tea tree. It's details like these we hope our customers will enjoy and keep coming back for.
You’ve taken great care to carry and use environmentally conscious lines. Some are even Nashville-based. Explain the importance of this, especially when it comes to beauty products and treatments.
Throughout our research we've learned that on average men and women use approximately 10-15 personal care products per day with a total of 126 different ingredients within these. Given that nearly 90% of cosmetic ingredients are left untested for safety, it can be a bit alarming to think that most of what you put on your body hasn't been regulated. Our goal was to take the guesswork out of the equation for our clients. We've personally tested all of the products we sell for efficacy and purity. We've vetted the ingredient lists so you don't have to.
We love local! We currently carry four cosmetic lines and one jewelry line that are from Nashville. Among these on the product side are Blueberries and Lace (who makes our in-service products as well), Golden Apothecary, Rainwater Farms and Aila (who makes one of the lacquer lines we use and sell), and Branded Collective on the jewelry front. Karen is a native Nashvillian and is proud to promote local as much as possible. Having lines as amazing as these makes local partnerships easy to execute.
What do you look for when choosing a line/brand to carry?
This was actually a very difficult process when it came to the nail care products, makeup and skincare. Karen and I wanted to ensure we tested everything ourselves, and that wasn’t so easy with everything else we were trying to do to open. Ultimately, our barometer was that the products would be effectual, no matter how strong the branding, social media successes or publication write-ups were. It had to work, and we had to love it, or it didn't make the cut. On the retail gift items, that was much easier. We wanted to bring to town many of our favorite things found in our travels that we would readily buy for our girlfriends. Who wouldn't want to get their nails done, sip and shop? :-)
Do you have any favorites right now?
Sherri: My personal favorite is One Love Organics. I have been a fan of their little heart sponge, used with their creamy cleanser, for awhile now. They are really leading the charge in organic skin care, so I have my little routine using their products and it shows from the compliments I get on how healthy my skin glows.
Karen: I'm a huge makeup fan so I was over the moon to get the Antonym Cosmetics line in at Poppy & Monroe. The shadows and blushes are super pigmented, the ingredients are good for your skin, the bamboo packaging is amazing and they are Eco-Cert certified to boot. Who wouldn't love it?
Waterless services will be new to many people. Explain the benefits.
Research was a crucial part of our process. In looking at trends in salons, and the nail care business in general, we kept running into this concept of waterless services. Intrigued, we took a seminar by one of the pioneers of the trend while attending a beauty show in Las Vegas this summer and that's all it took. We were hooked. In speaking with medical professionals, as well as nail care representatives around the world, we knew it was something we had to bring to Nashville given the benefits it brings to the table - better polish adhesion, less risk of water-borne bacteria and the ability to save a valuable natural resource. Did you know the average salon uses over 15K gallons of water a year?!?!. We knew there had to be a better way!
Do you have plans to open additional salons?
Opening multiple locations is definitely something we are interested in exploring. We love the eclectic, progressive vibe here in Germantown, and if we were to have other outposts elsewhere in Nashville, we'd choose neighborhoods with similar attributes as we feel it fits well with our philosophy.
You currently use custom made products for your services. Do you have plans to sell those items? Will there be any other Poppy & Monroe product lines?
We do plan to start offering our soaks, scrubs and lotions for sale in our boutique very soon. It was important for us to get customer feedback on these items prior to bottling them to make sure people loved them as much as we hoped they would. The interest has been outstanding and we are excited to get them on the shelves. With our background in product development, we are always on the lookout for new private label products and would love to expand the Poppy & Monroe label in the future.
Explain how your membership program works?
We wanted to offer clients who have a frequency (weekly to monthly loyalists) to be rewarded for that regularity. Our "Luxe Life" program allows one to basically receive $80 worth of services at 20% off, which is a $65 monthly recurring charge. With that, one gets added bonuses such as free polish, gel polish removal, VIP booking status, and first invites to many wellness & product launch events we have planned inside the salon and in our beautiful courtyard once Spring arrives. Those dollars roll over, so if they couldn't use it one month, then they just have more to use for pampering the next. It's simple and ensures our client's consistency in scheduling in time for themselves or as we like to call it, self care.
Name five of your favorite places in Nashville.
Sherri: 12th South has way too many shops and restaurants I enjoy & frequent, Radnor, Franklin, Leipers Fork.
Karen: I'm an East-Side girl so I have to say Shelby Park is my personal fave. It just keeps getting better!
Did you make an appointment before finishing this post? I don’t blame you if you did. I made one before I left their opening party. See you soon in one of those big blue comfy chairs!
Images courtesy of Blu Sanders for Poppy & Monroe.