This article originally appeared in the June print issue of LOCALE Magazine.
Owner Cindy Cate Tells Why Her Salon is Set Apart
Expert: Cindy Cate
Credentials: Owner of Hello Birdie Nail and Lash Lab
Opened in 2015 by girl boss (and bassist…and mom!) Cindy Cate, Hello Birdie Nail and Lash Lab is North Park’s sleekest salon known for trendy nail art. Cate designed Hello Birdie to move beyond typical nail salons. Instead, the salon focuses on bringing extensive service and artistry to customers (there is an in-house Creative Director and Educator on staff) in a mindful way with all eco-friendly polishes. Beauty expert Cate gives LOCALE an inside peek at her entrepreneurial career and how Hello Birdie is transforming the industry.
Q: Tell me how you got started in the beauty industry. Did you always know you wanted a career in this?
Cindy Cate: To rewind a little bit, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have always worked for small businesses in different industries, and I had an appreciation for that. I didn’t know what the business would be. Then, along this journey, I came to The Lab and managed the hair salon for three years. It sparked my interest in the beauty industry. It was this amazing, inspiring moment in my life. I was surrounded by people who love what they do, and I was sold. I realized I wanted to do something where people could be creative. Our main service is nail art, and I wanted to create a business where we could hire artists. Our staff are artists outside of Hello Birdie.
Q: What inspires you in this industry?
CC: What mainly inspires me is the changes that come about; the industry is constantly changing and growing at a fast pace. Nails are becoming more and more acknowledged in the fashion industry. You now see nail art incorporated on the runway. It’s becoming valued more. People want something more than the average five-dot flower. I am just really inspired by the creativity and everything new that is coming onto the scene.
Q: What is the story behind Hello Birdie?
CC: I was getting my nails done one day and realized there was a void in the industry. There weren’t nice places to go and get your nails done. At that point, I was working at The Lab and knew I was going to open a business one day. As I mentioned, I realized I liked being around passionate artists that want to get good at their craft. I wanted to take this concept and apply it to the nail industry where there was this void.
Q: What makes Hello Birdie different from other nail salons in San Diego?
CC: Our specialty is nail art. I’m not talking about stickers and so on. I’m talking about hand-painted nail art. We love to use modern techniques, play with negative-space. We do illustrated designs too. We try to stay up on industry trends. Another thing that makes Hello Birdie stand out is a commitment to a high level of customer service. We have a really nice, clean environment. That doesn’t seem to be the norm in the industry. Other salons rush you in and rush you out. But, we offer a different kind of service that’s modeled after the hair industry.
Q: What do you want your customers to leave with from Hello Birdie?
CC: Honestly, I want people to come in and leave everything at the door—their fast-paced, busy lives. This is a place they can enjoy their time in, whether it be relaxing with a friend for a pedicure or sitting down with a nail artist and working out something creative they had in mind. They have time to create or take a break and enjoy themselves. Customers leave and feel like they’ve had a chance to feed their soul. Ultimately, we want our customers to feel like they are part of the family. They’re Birdie Babes!
Q: What does your day to day look like?
CC: I’m a busy mom! I get up early and head into the salon first thing. I do whatever the day calls for! It’s not glamorous. Some days, I’m the plumber or the handyman. Some days, I am the receptionist. I like to be a friend to all the staff. I’m their Momma Birdie. Every day, I’m just working on the next thing.
Q: How do you want Hello Birdie to shape the beauty scene in San Diego?
CC: I want to raise the bar in San Diego. Clients have become so accustomed to low quality service. They should expect more! They should expect a clean, friendly, quality service. It’s all too often they go elsewhere and get a gel polish or acrylics with products that are not safe and good for the health of their nails. They go and get lash services that are clumped together and aren’t the healthy size for their lashes. Client health and satisfaction comes first for us. We go above and beyond with cleanliness too. We use medical grade autoclave. That’s not even required, but we do it because we believe it should be done. It goes back to raising the bar. Not only are we raising the bar for our clients, we are raising bar for our employees. There is nothing that comes before them. They are the absolute best, extremely talented and our reason for success.