Ever pop in to get a relaxing manicure only to be assaulted by harsh lighting, questionably sanitized tools and an outdated magazine selection? Frustrated with the nail salon scene in New York, two friends decided to take matters into their own hands and create a haven that would offer a curated polish selection, loaded iPads and top notch customer service. Now with four kids between them, several locations and a namesake polish line later, we caught up with Nadine Abramcyk and Adair Ilynsky of tenoverten to get their tips (see what we did there) on style, family and balance.
What was the impetus for starting Ten over Ten?
AI: Nadine and I lived around the corner from one another in the West Village and frequently got our nails done together after work before going out to dinner. We always commented on the striking contrast between some beautifully designed restaurant we were going to and the icky corner “chop shop” where we’d had our nails done beforehand. For fun, we would brainstorm ways we would improve the experience — a focus on hygiene, uniforms for the manicurists, a gorgeous space, a better polish selection – the list went on and on! One night over a glass of wine we decided that we should go for it and open a nail salon that tried to address all of our frustrations as customers.
What is the biggest challenge / advantage to running your own business?
NA: The biggest challenge is that you have to learn every facet of the business and at the same time that’s also the greatest advantage. I feel as though I have gained so much experience through having to understand each aspect of a seemingly straightforward service business, from HR, real estate, marketing, PR, finance and the list goes on and on.
AI: While it can be daunting at times forging ahead all on our own, it’s also liberating and exhilarating to be the masters of our own destiny.
What makes tenoverten different than other nail salons?
NA: tenoverten was conceived from the perspective of frustrated consumers rather than from a former manicurist, and I think that is what ultimately sets us apart and comes across to the clientele. Ultimately, that is realized through a well edited and better polish selection, iPads at manicure stations, online booking, higher hygienic standards and overall a better customer service experience from start to finish.
As mothers, are you more conscious of what goes into the products that you use in your salon?
AI: I have always been eco-conscious but even more so now that I have children. Nadine and I spend A LOT of time at the salons, so it’s extremely important to us that it’s a healthy environment for our employees, our customers and for ourselves. A huge step toward this was developing our own 5-free base and topcoats, The Foundation and The Shield, which we use in all services. We also purposely do not offer acrylic, artificial or gel nails because of the chemicals required for those processes.
Where do you draw inspiration?
NA: From the city we live in. Adair and I both live downtown and feel so inspired daily from just walking down the street. So much so that the colors in our namesake polish collection are named after New York City Streets.
AI: I draw a lot of inspiration from hearing about other business concepts. There are so many people doing incredible, inspiring things out there, especially in New York City. One of our friends just opened a facial shop called Heyday, which is revolutionizing that industry. We have another friend who started the amazing ecommerce site editorialist.com and was really the first to marry ecommerce with extensive editorial content. I get so excited to witness the evolution of their businesses and it makes me fall in love with tenoverten all over again.
What are your favorite activities to do with your kids in New York?
AI: We can’t get outside enough in the summer and love taking our kids to the playground at Pier 25. In cooler months, we enjoy visiting the Children’s Museum of the Arts in the West Village, which we didn’t even know existed before having children, the New York Historical Society and of course the nearby Museum of Natural History.
NA: Museum of Natural History, Bronx Zoo, the vintage Carousel in Dumbo and swimming!
tenoverten “Liberty” Polish
What 5 beauty essentials do you recommend to new mothers who no longer have the time to put on a “whole face” but who still want to look pulled together?
AI: Despite being in the beauty business, I have never been a beauty junkie and have always relied on a handful of products. CHANEL Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, which is extremely light but offers nice coverage, and of course the famous YSL Touché Éclat for concealing under eye shadows. I always wear a cream blush because of its easy application and find Lovely by Kjaer Weis to be the perfect my-cheeks-were-just-pinched shade. A bold red lip such as CHANEL Pirate makes me feel polished day or night. I do not wear mascara since I can’t seem to keep it from smudging, so I get my eyelashes tinted by our eyebrow guru Solé Alberti.
How would you describe your personal style?
NA: I’ve been the butt of many jokes that I am a bit too covered up at times but I like to think it is a compliment a la Diane Keaton. I love anything with a high waist as I think it suits my frame.
AI: I would describe it as classic and paired down. I’ve been influenced by my family’s New England roots and mostly prefer solid colors to graphic prints and simple silhouettes to anything too busy. I love to wear everything high waisted and tucked in, although I’ve had to abandon that a bit since I’ve been pregnant the better part of the past three years.
What are the key items in your closet that you depend on so that you look pulled together but are versatile and durable enough for spending time with your baby?
AI: I can’t get enough vintage 501 Levi’s both in full length and cut off into jean shorts. I guess they’re the ultimate mom jeans but their high waist prevents me from feeling sloppy and I can tuck one of my gazillion nautical striped t-shirts into them.
NA: It changes seasonally of course but these days a pair of high waisted cropped pants and a blouse with either sneakers if daytime or Tabitha Simmons heels if heading out for the night. I never wore heels until I discovered her line as they are the most comfortable things on the planet. I like to be comfortable.
With less time to get ready in the morning, what is your go-to look in order to look chic and put together for a full day and possible evening events?
AI: I return time and again to a delicate ivory blouse layered under a blazer. I’m drawn to the contrast it creates between something silky and feminine and something structured and more masculine. My favorite blazers are by Stella McCartney for both summer and winter, and wearing one hanging off the shoulders can somehow dress up a whole outfit for evening.
NA: I recently chopped off my hair and feel that has helped me feel pulled together in one swift move. I moisturize my skin well, curl my lashes, apply gel to my brows and carry around a lipstick for an immediate pick me up throughout the day. I keep things quite minimal but am thankful I have a flexible work schedule so can pop home in the middle of the day should I feel the need to refresh desperately.
As a busy working mom, what is your best advice for other working moms trying to strike that balance between work and family? What is your biggest challenge?
AI: Nadine has taught me the lesson of really trying to be present in the moment, which she says she has learned the importance of over time. As working moms, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the kids while at work and thinking about work while with the kids, and ultimately feeling inadequate and unfulfilled in both arenas. I’ve realized when I try to focus my energies 100% on work when I’m at work and on my kids when I’m with them at home (for me a lot of that has to do with me putting down my phone), I feel so much happier and better at both my jobs.
NA: There is no perfect balance. I think you have to know that heading into it and understand you will always be to striving to strike the right balance as a working mom. As long as you are aware of that and working to be present in whatever you are doing in the moment then I think it is safe to say you are doing your best and living life to the fullest. My biggest challenge is traveling for work without my kids which I have just started to have to do between opening a new salon in Austin TX this Fall and having our nail polish factory and company based in California.
Why do you think its important for mothers to exercise self-care and take time for themselves? Are there any special treatments you offer to cater to this?
AI: I’ve learned time and again that if I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t successfully take care of my family. When I’ve over scheduled myself and am running on empty, everyone suffers. I think a lot of our business is built on that whole notion. A manicure and pedicure itself is a wonderful way for someone to treat herself and really take time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s an accessible, affordable and time effective way to pamper oneself and recharge low batteries.
NA: I believe if you aren’t taking care of yourself then you won’t be able to care for your family to the best of your ability. This means something different for everyone. For some people self care is realized through reading a good book, spending time with girlfriends, or just some alone time. For whomever needs a little extra pampering as a means of self care we offer a very relaxing hour long tenoverten Custom Pedicure. We like to think that all services at tenoverten are relaxing and quiet the mind and that we offer a respite in an otherwise bustling city.
What do you do to carve out time for yourself?
AI: My brother-in-law is a personal trainer (I know, so convenient!) so I have been training with him in the gym in our building. I realized that streamlining my workout routine, rather than running to a million different classes like I used to do, has helped me stick with it during this busy time. It has also allowed me to comfortably ease back into working out post-baby. I also love meeting girlfriends for breakfast. It’s so civilized and fun to have a proper breakfast out (Buvette is my go to spot) and it’s a great way to catch up with friends during the hectic week.
NA: I exercise and meditate with Taryn Toomy’s the class a few times a week and spend at least 1-2 nights per week out with girlfriends. I also make sure to stay in a couple of nights a week as the ultimate time for myself to get to bed early, read or work on larger projects that need a bit more creative energy than a hectic day allows for.
How do you balance your time between work, your child and nurturing yourself?
AI: I’m not sure that I have the answer to this one as I am reassessing this balance everyday. Some days I feel like I’ve struck just the right balance and then the very next day one area hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. I think the key is not beating yourself up about it too much and to just try to constantly refine and improve the approach.
NA: Every day is a balancing act and it certainly isn’t easy. I find that with 2 young children only 18 months apart that they’ve been the priority whenever there is a choice to be made over the past 2 years. As they are getting a bit older I see a shift happening and I’m sure as they are both in preschool in the Fall that I will spend even more time being able to focus on tenoverten. Right now we are in a major growth stage for the company. I’d hope to say one day looking back that I adequately cared for my family, extended family, business and self…but only time will tell.
tenoverten “Ludlow” Polish
What are some of your specific gadgets, organizational tools or aids that help maintain a stress-free work/family balance?
AI: I share a Google calendar with my husband and with Nadine, my two spouses! If it’s not on my calendar, I will most likely forget it. My husband and I email to do lists back and forth, although I’m sure there’s an App we should be using for that. We also take advantage of automatic replenishment programs that many retailers have now such as the Honest Company for diapers and Harry’s for my husband’s razors.
NA: Google calendar, I would be lost without it and exercising which clears my head so I can stay present throughout the day. I’m not big into tech so write down a lot of things and keep journals of tasks at hand, very old fashioned.
If any, what changes did you make to your work hours/life in order to create more time with your kids?
AI: I wasn’t thinking about kids when Nadine and I started tenoverten but it has actually allowed me to spend much more time with my kids than I would have been able to otherwise. I used to work in retail finance and the hours at the office were long. Even though in many ways I work harder now than I ever have before, we make our own schedules and can carve out time to go on play dates or to our kids’ classes and to almost always be home for dinner.
NA: I work often at night after my kids go to bed at 7PM to allow for more free time with them during the day. I also pick a couple of activities that I am going to do with my kids each week and try to not let anything get in the way of that. Some examples of those things are daily school drop off with my daughter, music class with my son and family Friday night dinners with a home cooked meal. This creates a consistency from week to week when I know I have carved out one on one time with each of the kids and pure family time.
What is the most valuable thing motherhood has taught you?
AI: There have been so many valuable things but one is to be grateful for everything my own parents have done for my sisters and me. Being a parent is not an easy job and requires a lot of self-sacrifice, which I never fully appreciated before. I see my parents in a while new light, which has made me even closer to them, and it warms my heart to see what amazing grandparents they are and to watch the bond that they are building with my girls.
NA: Patience with myself and others.
What has been the most surprising thing about becoming a mother?
AI: It’s so cliché but really the overwhelming love that I feel for my daughters. I get excited just thinking about walking through the door and hearing Esme screech “Mama?!”.
NA: The patience that my kids show toward me.