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The Painted Nail’s Latest Stroke

Teri Hatcher, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale imbibe at a former stand-up comic's nail salon, which is releasing a nail polish collection.

Katie Cazorla can attest that success doesn’t always happen on the first try.

The 33-year-old upstate New York native arrived in Los Angeles with ambitions of making it big as an actress and stand-up comedian. But Cazorla’s career path took an unusual turn in March of 2009, when she decided to open The Painted Nail in Studio City, Calif., to fill a hole she detected in the L.A. nail salon scene for one with middle-of-the-road service prices in a playful, feminine and clean environment that wasn’t middle-of-the-road or worse.

“I was a stand-up comic in L.A. for almost 10 years, and I could have horrible roots and wear clothes from three years ago, but my one splurge was manicure-pedicures,” said Cazorla. “In L.A., [salon services] were superexpensive or really haggy.…Why couldn’t there be a fun place where you could have a drink and get your nails done?”

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Apparently, other Angelenos were thinking the same thing. In the first three months of operating, The Painted Nail, where manicures cost $20 and pedicures $30, recouped the $150,000 investment Cazorla put into building out its 1,100-square-foot space on the way to $600,000-plus in first-year sales. She also attracted celebrity customers such as Teri Hatcher, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and Hilary and Haylie Duff; landed a reality show tentatively titled “Nail Files” set to air next year on the TV Guide Network, and developed a nail polish line.

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The nail polish line, also called The Painted Nail, is a joint venture between Cazorla and Los Angeles-based nail lacquer company Nubar. The initial holiday collection launches at Apothia at Fred Segal this week and is made up of 18 colors each priced at $12.50, half of which contain glitter. Along with the colors, the product lineup has a top coat, base coat and cuticle treatment oil priced at $12.50 as well. At the end of November, a body polish for $34 and a shimmer cream for $18 will join the selection.

Expounding on the initial collection, Cazorla said it crosses the color spectrum with pinks, reds, greens, blues, whites and blacks. Celebrities had a hand in naming some of the colors. Hatcher dubbed a gold shade Get Hatched, for example, and the Duff sisters titled a glittery pink shade Silver Screened. Layering is a primary objective of the collection, and the glitter shades are intended to coat shades without glitter, especially on toes. Cazorla stressed that the line doesn’t have animal-derived ingredients and is free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. The bottles’ shape mimics a woman’s body and the graphics on the boxes include a chandelier and a cartoon image of Cazorla.

The Painted Nail won over Karen Meena, the buyer for Apothia at Fred Segal, even though she has shied away from picking up nail polish lines in recent years. “Nails have been the focus of some exciting new beauty trends lately, and we wanted to feature a line that was healthy, fashionable and exclusive,” she said.

In its first full year on the market, Noubar Abrahamian, founder of Nubar, estimated The Painted Nail could surpass $1 million in sales in the U.S. and $2 million to $3 million abroad. In addition to the polish line, Nubar wants to partner with Cazorla on expanding The Painted Nail salon network. Another salon is planned for London and she is considering opening a male-oriented salon named The Painted Nail Male in West Hollywood.