After four years of selling top notch, vegan friendly nail polishes and working with major designers like Sergio Hudson, Suite Eleven founder, Ari Smith, has opened her first brick and mortar salon. And, Smith wants you to know that, “we’re more than a salon, we’re an experience,” the Brooklyn-native says. You’ll see it for yourself when you set foot in the luxury-meets-zen space, based in the heart of Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“Every detail has been meticulously curated to create an environment where you can relax, recharge, and bask in the pampering you truly deserve,” she says. In addition to the gorgeous ambiance, the nail experiences are, of course, “unparalleled and high-quality,” too. The service options include everything from gel pedis to serene nail art sessions. All in all? “Each visit is a journey of rejuvenation and self-indulgence.”
Below, Smith discusses her career journey, opening her first salon, the best Suite Eleven service, and more.
ESSENCE: What inspired you to launch Suite Eleven the nail brand?
Ari Smith: Work to bring Suite Eleven to life started in 2015 after months of struggling with a skin condition that was linked to a number of food and chemical allergies. Struggling to find skin-friendly alternatives, I decided to create a product of my own that hit close to home. Back in April of 2019, we dropped our first collection inspired by the freedom and creativity of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Noticing the lack of representation, knowledge and resources accessible to my family, friends and I, gave me a sense of enthusiasm and urgency to provide something for us, by us.
What inspired you to go beyond selling products and open a salon?
Smith: I was inspired to show that real luxury does and can successfully exist in predominantly Black communities. We no longer have to admire it on social media, travel state to state or pay a fortune for an experience because Suite Eleven New York has bridged that gap. I’ve dreamt of Suite Eleven New York for years so I would say the work has been subconsciously brewing. The location fell into my lap a few months ago. I shared it with my people and because of their support, I went for it and it feels exactly like home.
What’s your favorite Suite Eleven service?
Smith: My favorite unofficial service has to be a foot and hand massage from our lead manicurist, Alex. If you know, you know… and if you don’t know, please come find out!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur thus far?
Smith: Failure doesn’t exist, it’s an opportunity to learn. Don’t be afraid of it, lean into it, let it teach you but do not give up on yourself, ever.
Why is self-care so important to you these days?
Smith: While it is important, I have to be honest and say I haven’t been doing the best at prioritizing my routine which used to consist of, mani-pedis, hot yoga, meditation, books and pilates. But, now that you’ve mentioned it, I will be getting back to it!