How did a used water delivery truck become one of the hottest nail salons in Los Angeles? Meet Emily Rountree. As the owner of Colvon Mobile Nail Salon, she has created a one-of-a-kind nail care experience, delivering services to people where they work, live, and play! Over the years Emily has worked with not only clients but brands and companies such as E! Entertainment, Buzzfeed and Pandora that allow her to pull her truck right up to their office doors or events. But why nails? According to Emily, "If you think about it, nails are like canvases that we carry with us everywhere we go. They allow us to share parts of who we are and what we believe in. We choose our colors, designs, shapes, and styles... dependent on how we feel. Our nails speak on our behalf."
MJ: What drove you to create a mobile nail salon? (Pun intended!)
ER: I decided to go mobile instead of opening a brick and mortar because I’m really interested in finding new solutions that make life easier for the modern day woman. We’re so multi-faceted, so when it comes to self care we need options. Sometimes we prefer manicures in our office, and sometimes we may opt for a full spa day. Just thought it was important to present a new option. I don’t plan on stopping here, either—our services will continue to evolve as we discover new ways to pamper people.
MJ: If you had a “fashion uniform” what would be be?
ER: As a small business owner, versatility is the name of the game when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. My uniform is a fit that works for a meeting, working on the nail truck, and dinner. I usually start with a black ensemble (most likely tailored black trousers with a blouse or bodysuit or a black dress), but I usually throw on a fun jacket or blazer, gold chain necklaces, stacked rings, and a bold lip to dress it up. For shoes, I opt for boots when the season allows, sneakers when I want to keep it casual, and a pair of heels when I want to feel a little sexy. I love wearing my wild, curly hair everyday—it makes me feel like myself. But I’m not afraid of a slick bun when I don’t have time.
MJ: What person, place or thing from the past inspires your style today and why?
ER: I lived in Paris for a little while and organically adapted their simplistic and natural approach to fashion. I love a good black ensemble! I also went to high school in Texas where it’s all about over-the-top glam. For a while I was very girly and designer-driven, but as I grew into myself I was no longer into the pressure of looking like I was in a beauty pageant every day. When I moved to LA is when I really began the journey of organically finding my own personal style. I definitely still see traces of ‘southern glam meets euro chic’ in my style now, but with a lot more expression and a lot less rules. I always dress for comfort first, with a little hint of “I’m somebody’s boss” so I keep it classy, but “I’m my own boss” so I wear what I want.
MJ: What fashion or beauty item do you collect?
ER: About two years back I started being intentional about buying beauty products from black female founders. Partially because of the skin tone range, but mostly because helping make black women richer is so, so satisfying. I became a little obsessed and now I have an extensive WOC-owned makeup collection. Pat McGrath’s products just look so pretty in my bathroom—I can’t help myself!
MJ: Why is it important that someone that looks like you be represented in the fashion + beauty industry?
ER: I walked into a store the other day and saw an advertisement with a plus-sized, curly-haired, brown woman just like me. I was overwhelmed by how instantly I felt seen, valued and welcomed into that space. Being inclusive is just one small way to show people that they are valued, and when people feel valued it just makes for a more positive environment for everybody. But it doesn’t just stop at model inclusivity.
MJ: What impact have WOC made on the nail community?
ER: Vietnamese immigrants were among the first true manicurists that came to California back in 1975. Since then, the nail care business has transformed into an $8 billion industry and they have undoubtedly been at the forefront of that growth. As for nail style, I believe that black women have set nail trends for years. From long nails, airbrush styles and elaborate art—our manicures are and have been a huge part of our culture and bold style. Nail art has only recently been embraced in mainstream fashion and pop culture, but don’t get it twisted, we’ve never been afraid to rock a full set with designs on every finger!
MJ: What are the nail trends for 2020? ER: In 2020 I’m seeing a lot of animal prints, metallic, and minimal negative space. As for colors I’d look out for pastel yellows, delicious creamy nudes, and deep browns.
For more on Emily and Colvon Nails follow her on Instagram!