Lacquerbar on Fourth Boasts More Than Just Manicures

Have you ever thought about going to a nail salon and not getting your nails done? Newly-opened Lacquerbar on Fourth Street is an Instagram-worthy, aesthetically-pleasing nail salon with the goal empowering women while providing a fun place to hang out. From detailed nail art to signature drinks and an eye-catching interior, Lacquerbar differs significantly from your average nail salon. After getting my own mani-pedi at Lacquerbar and loving the experience, I spoke with CEO and founder Angelica “Heli” Prilliman to get the inside scoop so I could share it with the Berkeley community.

Prilliman, who goes by “Heli,” grew up in Texas and moved to Berkeley after college to work at a tech startup run by a friend, eventually working in marketing and communications as the company’s creative director. Regularly getting gel manicures during the time she was working, Prilliman realized she was unable to find a place that incorporated everything she wanted in a nail salon. So she decided to make that place.

“There was never a place that had what I wanted. I want a place that’s fun and cool on the inside. I want a place that does a good job on nails, and a place that treats their employees ethically, where they’re also encouraging these women and helping them grow in business,” Prilliman said. “I also wanted to be able to have a drink or two after a long week.”

Lacquerbar opened this past July, and much of Prilliman’s inspiration for its interior came from feminism and strong, iconic women like Frida Kahlo and Ariana Grande. Many of these women’s headshots are featured on the walls, and some of the polishes are named after them.

“Each of them in their own ways are badass women who didn’t give an eff what people thought and worked their asses off despite all the crap that goes along with being a woman in the business, music, or tech world,” Prilliman said.

Lacquerbar is welcoming towards all women and other genders, but Prilliman said the salon’s vibe and energy is more specifically geared towards millennial women with goals and aspirations to “take on the world.” She also said that the salon devotes energy to its Instagram, aiming to keep the profile more lifestyle-themed, feminist, and inspirational rather than solely posting photos of nail art. This reflects Prilliman’s goal overall, to provide women with a fun place to hang out, nails or not.

“There’s enough shit in the world that women have to deal with, and it’s okay to get your nails done and have a drink with friends and just feel good,” Prilliman said.

In addition to basic manis and pedis, Lacquerbar offers hard gel manicures (instead of acrylic nails which destroy your natural nails), regular gel manicures, “Bro Manis and Pedis” for men, and intricate nail art. Customers can choose from #BOSS nail art, structured designs with varying colors, or #PRO nail art, more intricate and flexible designs. With the #PRO art, clients can get almost any design or image on their nails.

Besides the nails, Lacquerbar also serves exclusive drinks like the “Lacquerade,” a reaspberry lemonade mimosa, homemade sangria, and “Lacquer Bombs,” orange-flavored sake bombs. The drinks range from $6-$8, and the salon is full of cute and comfy furniture to relax on while sipping and hanging with friends.

“We wanted it to be a nail salon but also a place where chicks can kick it after work, or between classes or something…and have some drinks that are pretty affordable,” Prilliman said.

        Regarding her goals for the future, Prilliman hopes Lacquerbar will blow up in the next few years, and wants to open stores throughout the bay area and the country as a whole. She also expressed interest in creating nail training programs or even a nail school in the distant future, in order to remedy the lack of attention and poor technician treatment in the nail industry.

“These women go into nail school and they only teach them what you absolutely have to know for the state test and that’s it. A lot of these women are from Vietnam and are sponsored by people to come here, just kind of thrown into this environment,” Prilliman said. “Our mission is to empower women, our clients and nail techs, from all cultures and backgrounds with education, beauty, and confidence.”

If you fit the average stressed-out, sleepless Berkeley student image, it might be worth your while to check out Lacquerbar. I know after I went with my mom for parents’ weekend, I wanted to share this place with the campus community. Prilliman also encourages Berkeley students to stop by.

“College can be a grind, and sometimes you’ve got to treat yourself. You can come to Lacquerbar and get some inexpensive drinks, and, if you want, a manicure and pedicure to add on,” Prilliman said. “You’ve just got to kick it sometimes, and Lacquerbar’s a place for you to do that.”

Check out their website here:

Campus, OtherEvelyn Taylor