Karen Kops changes her nails at least once a week. Her choice of polish depends on her mood. “Sometimes I want to be a little sweet; sometimes I want to be a little badass,” she says. Ultimately, the Nashville native considers her manicures to be an ongoing art project: “Nails are like little canvases.”
Fittingly, last Tuesday, Karen’s mani was a bright blue that brought to mind the shade famously attributed to the French artist Yves Klein, albeit with a matte “velvet” finish. Sherri Coates, her California-born business partner at Poppy & Monroe, the nail salon and skin care center in Germantown, was wearing a light pink mani with subtle copper and gold flecks.
“This is why we work so well together: we have two different tastes,” Karen says. “It’s such a dichotomy.”
“Karen will ask if we can do something different (with my nails), and I’m like, By different do you mean making them a different shape?” Sherri says, laughing.
“She’s fun to shock,” Karen teases.
While the women definitely enjoy having a good time at Poppy & Monroe, located in a majestic but warm Victorian-era house with tall, bright white walls decorated with zingy bursts of colorful contemporary furniture, they are quick to admit they didn’t get into the beauty business for strictly light-hearted reasons.
Both Karen and Sherri are passionate about providing Nashville women a healthy alternative to the chemical-laden cosmetic services offered at many other salons. Poppy & Monroe uses only products that are non-toxic, safe and environmentally conscious, avoiding harsh chemicals that are potentially harmful to their clients’ health.
In the six months it’s been open, Nashville’s only all-natural beauty business has developed quite a following. Some come for health and wellness related issues, while others stop in for the amazing suite of services, including killer manicures.
“We don't have a specific customer,” Karen says. “I think we hit many needs for different people. It's the young girls who want to come in and get some nail art and the older women who are worried about their health. It’s all over the gamut.”
Karen and Sherri sat down with The Callaway Report last week for a chat about their six-month-old business and Nashville’s quick embrace of“beauty without all the junk.”
TCR: How did you guys meet?
SHERRI: Wildly enough, at a trade show. Karen and I were both doing design for hospitality companies. She came to my booth and we started talking. “You live in Nashville? I live in Nashville.”
From there, we connected and discussed doing a product line (of window treatments). We met here a couple of times and started talking about personal matters instead of what we planned to talk about. And we realized that we both might want to do something else. We wanted to work on our own.
TCR: And where did the idea to open a concept like P&M come from?
SHERRI: Being from California, I’ve been into clean eating for a long time, just because of my environment and the people I was exposed to.
I had a girlfriend in San Diego who owned a concept like this. It was the only place I went, for natural manicures. When we started talking about what we wanted to do, we realized there was a missing piece here in Nashville. So it was really that simple, in terms of concept.
TCR: So beauty with a healthy edge.
KAREN: Or beauty without all the junk in it. The fact that the industry is so unregulated is insane. We learned that there are 1,300 chemicals that are banned in the EU and only 10 are here. In the U.S., there have been no regulations since the 1930s on cosmetics. It’s totally a women’s issue. For sure, that’s what we feel so strongly about.
SHERRI: We have personal reasons, obviously. But my mother died at 57 years old. And then I had friends who were not even 30 and had breast cancer. I think we all have friends and family like that, where there’s no family history, no reason for them to get (cancer) but they do, and aside from the environment it’s obviously all these things we’re putting in our systems. We use so many products as women. Chemicals are in everything we use.
TCR: Was it hard to find good products that meet your criteria?
KAREN: They’re totally out there. Being able to go out and find products that were natural was amazing, but they had to surprise us with how good they were, too. The natural thing was a bonus. But it’s becoming huge. It’s going mainstream.
Right now, this industry is such a community. You meet people that have similar places and they turn you on to things. And the other thing that’s been amazing is that the brands we’re working with are generally smaller. So we get to meet many of the makers and the women who started these companies. We’re a very female-centric business.
TCR: Who is your client?
SHERRI: We have Leiper’s Fork to Belle Meade. And then we have young urban professionals. And then young girls who are trendy in that they’re seeking natural options. We have mothers and daughters.
KAREN: Six months in, we’re getting a lot of regulars. It’s great to see them frequently, get to know their routine and share a part of their lives. It’s been very gratifying.
SHERRI: Germantown is such a tight community. We love this area. Our neighbors will come by and stay for a couple of hours. They'll get a mani/pedi but also shop and stay and talk. It’s like going to your hairdresser or walking into a bar. We know their names and they know ours.
TCR: For sure, it’s a very relaxing atmosphere.
KAREN: We love that they feel that comfortable. The nicest thing that people keep coming in and saying is that it’s cheaper than therapy!
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Poppy & Monroe is located at 604 Monroe Street in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. Find them on the web at www.poppyandmonroe.com. Contact them at 615-640-0604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.