Nailed It: Meet Ruth Kallens, Founder of Van Court Nail Studio

Have you ever walked out of a nail salon feeling berated, dirty and pretty sure that you’re going to develop respiratory problems later in life? Enter Ruth Kallens, the Founder of the NYC based Van Court Nail Studio. Nestled in NY’s Financial District the salon exudes zen and good smells all around. Ruth’s vision of creating a nail salon that you energy is magnetic. Meeting her I was instantly inspired by her vision to create a salon that was ethical, sanitary and treated the workers as well as they treated you. Coming up on nearly 1 year of business Ruth has accomplished a lot with plans on expansion and the development of her own product line. Read her story below. 

1. What inspired you to create your nail salon Van Court Studio and how does it differ from a traditional salon?

I’ve always been crazy about nails and was consistently disappointed with the quality of the services available. After working in the beauty industry for my entire career, I decided to use my background in PR and marketing to create a destination that filled the void. Using my connections to the industry’s top nail technicians, I created an all star team and beautiful, zen-like space for clients to experience quality work. We started working on bringing the business to life in March of 2015 and realized we were definitely on the right path when a NY Times article written by Sarah Maslin Nir about the unethical treatment of nail salon workers was published on May 7, 2015. Given the caliber of our talent, they certainly would be paid competitively and only the cleanest, safest tools, products and practices would be implemented. We stayed true to our vision and opened our doors to the public on March 5, 2016. At Van Court, natural is best. With thoughtful curation, all of our lacquers are 5, 7 or 9 free (non-toxic) and our soaks, scrubs + sanitizers are homemade with organic oils, food/therapy grade essential oils. Stations designed for the unique needs of technicians, allowing them to perform their best 100% of the time.

  • Van Court manicures are waterless with minimal cuticle nipping
  • Our pedicure bowls are tankless + jetless, allowing for optimal cleanliness
  • State of the art air ventilation and purification system
  • A medical grade autoclave is our golden standard 
  • We offer a bespoke menu of results-driven treatments performed by the most talented technicians in the industry 

2. You’ve been working in beauty for the majority of your career, what do you love most about the beauty industry?

I love the people who work in the industry and the science behind product production. Not only the formulas we can create but the marketing and advertising needed to propel a product. Now more than ever, brands are dedicating their energy to creating transparency and building sustainable practices that make a difference to needy communities. 

3. As a rather new entrepreneur you have big plans for expansion for Van Court. Where do you see the business growing in the next 5 years?

We plan to expand into two other neighborhoods in Manhattan, into Los Angeles and we’ll have a product line. 

4. What’s been the most rewarding part of starting your business? What’s been the greatest challenge?

Seeing my vision come to life. Literally building it and watching it grow and change has been the most surreal experience. Learning to pivot and make adjustments based on the needs of the business can be difficult. Sometimes changes need to happen that don’t necessarily align with your vision. It’s important to be open to making the adjustments so growth can happen. 

5. What advice would you give someone about to start a service business? What do you wish you had known.

Make sure you have a year of operating costs in the bank. If you don’t, raise it before you open or need it. This is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Be prepared for a bumpy, exhilarating ride.

Visit Van Court Studio at 90 Water Street, Floor 2. Follow on Instagram @VanCourtStudio

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