A relaxing trip to the nail salon is one of life’s little luxuries, but do you really know what is in the products at most neighborhood nail salons? Well my friend (spoiler alert), the ugly truth is most salons are chock full of harmful chemicals, and unsanitary practices. Take a deep breath, your solution for healthy and on trend nail style can be found in one gem of a salon! Mylk Bar, Charleston’s ONLY non toxic nail salon not only practices an extremely healthful approach, but has made getting a mani, pedi a luxurious insta- worthy experience that is unlike any other we have seen.
The beauty and brains behind the Mylk Bar brand is Katie Sheilds. Inspiring, go-getting, bright, and gorgeous doesn’t even scratch the surface of this powerhouse entrepreneur. Katie’s passion for clean beauty combined with her steadfast business sense has lead to the immediate success of Mylk Bar. Bloggers, local celebs, and charleston’s elite have all been spotted (on the reg) getting #mylkmanis and posting the unique and stylish nail art that is always worthy of the “double tap- heart” on Insta. Beyond the glittered, palm tree, pastel polish perfections, the salon itself is a work of “home decor” art. From palm leaf wallpaper (also found in Katie’s jaw dropping house) to the basket seat swings, to our personal favorite, the local art work, Mylk Bar is total eye candy for anyone looking to “Treat Yourself”.
We are so excited for you to meet the dynamic, energetic, and knowledgeable Katie Shields as we ask her all the natural beauty questions you are dying to know!
We love the name of your salon – Mylk Bar – and the clean luxury it exudes, #MylkMani is so catchy and fun! Where did the name come from?!
Great question, I get asked that a lot! The “mylk” comes from the fact that we use a lot of coconut milk based products for retail and services. I fangirl HARD over some coconut milk and coconut oil and actually use coconut oil daily for oil pulling and in my coffee. If you don’t know what oil pulling is, just google it and thank me later 😉 To put it plainly,
I am obsessed with coconuts, I think they’re quite magical!
Mylk is spelled alternatively because the concept itself is alternative. And #mylkmani was just catchy and easy to remember for our hashtag. A good hashtag is clutch these days.
What would people find shocking to know about their neighborhood nail salon in terms of harmful chemicals and cleanliness / What makes Mylk Bar’s practices so unique?
You know how there are some restaurants you would never set foot in after hearing about their sanitation or business practices?
It is kinda like that with nail salons too.
Some things we do differently are quite obvious – for example we use DISPOSABLE PRODUCTS. It still shocks me that people are willing to go get a pedicure where someone else’s flesh is hanging out in the callus block and the file and buffer have been used on 10-20 other clients that same day…
You simply CAN”T STERILIZE a callus block – it is like a sponge. Is is also actually illegal for salons to reuse this stuff, but they do it anyhow.
We utilize unplumbed bowls because nasty bacteria is harbored in pipes, drains, and especially jetted tubs. I also invested in a badass ventilation system to guarantee a fume-free experience.
It seriously makes me the happiest when I see Moms bringing their babies in at just a couple weeks old so they can sit there and nurse while getting a safe pedi. 🙂
Discriminatory, and illegal pay practices are also rampant in the nail industry. There have been many recent exposés on the subject, but one of the most cited can be found HERE.
All of our employees are actually licensed and paid fairly. I still hear of many salons paying people under the table and it is infuriating. I saw a recent statistic that only 3 out of every 28 nail salon workers in SC are actually licensed!
I believe in fair, transparent, pay practices AND using high quality, environmentally-minded products.
We are fully booked almost daily, so I think that says something about our community and how the industry as a whole is changing!
Nail polish names are often so hilarious and entertaining, what is your favorite name / if you were a color what color would you be?
Yes! Sign me up for a full time job where I just come up with names for nail polish, hahaha.
Floss Gloss definitely has some of the best polish names like “Gangsta Boy” and “Keys to the Mansion”… If I were a color, I would prob be Floss Gloss “Tan Lines” because there is nothing better than a nude shade of nail polish and a good old summer tan line.
What is your favorite eco-friendly / non toxic nail polish brand?
Wow, I love so many! We carry Ten Over Ten, RMS, NCLA, Zoya, and Floss Gloss. I am most excited about Smith & Cult, which we are introducing soon. Their colorway is absolutely exhilarating and I have become acquaintances with their brand ambassador, Sarah Bland-Barbuto. I really admire her work and am hoping to fly her in for a training with our team soon…
Did I mention she is Beyonce’s manicurist?!
Amazing!! You completely breathed new life into something many people find a common practice, and made it into a truly singular and utterly enjoyable even chic experience – do you have any other ideas or passions cooking?
I love spending time with my family! My husband and I have been married almost three years and we have a 15 month old daughter. Because we both work so much, much of our spare time is spent with her. We also want to buy land soon to have horses and an organic farm. I grew up on a small, organic farm with lots of animals and my husband also loves to fish and hunt.
We are addicted to your Mylk Bar all-natural Sugar Scrub – what are some other natural products that you use in your day to day life?
Awwww, gee thanks!
Our sugar scrub has always been all natural, but is finally going 100% organic, which I am super stoked about.
I no longer have the bandwidth to make it myself because we sell so much of it, so I carefully sourced a lab that can make an even better, organic version of the scrub. We are also working on an organic lotion and some other fun products as well.
Internal supplementation is equally important; I take over 20 pills per day that include trace minerals, vitamins, probiotics, and oils. I get some really interesting looks from TSA agents when I go through airport security.
What all natural power ingredients should we be looking for in healthier products?
My fave is drumroll, COCONUT OIL, haha. I like This Coconut Oil because it is unrefined, cold-pressed, organic, but also at a nice price point. Pycnogenol is another super star antioxidant that nobody talks about, but creams that contain it are legit!
I think it is important to talk about what NOT to use.
When buying products, one should be able to pronounce each ingredient name and understand what it truly contains.
I constantly use EWF’s Healthy Living App to get the true toxicity score on products and food.
Also, to everyone — please STOP using products that contain palm oil, which is found in 40-50% of common household cosmetics and products. Orangutans have been found buried alive during deforestation practices and half of their population has declined in the past 20 years because of these practices. Additionally, it is not a nutritionally beneficial or sustainable.
But guess what is??? COCONUT. Yep, that is another reason we use coconut based products.
We think quite a few people don’t realize the tremendous effort and fortitude it takes to start and run your own business – What was it like to take that first step and how did you get the courage?
I know, thank goodness I have other people – like you – that I can lean on when the going gets tough. It was certainly scary to leave the comfort of my corporate job, but
I was lucky enough to have a great network of family and friends supporting me every step of the way.
Even when I was super grumpy and bitchy!
What are the cute new colors and nail art trends this Spring?!
We are seeing a lot of retro colors and designs. Smith and Cult’s “Fosse Fingers” is a terracotta metallic that reminds me of “Boogie Nights” and Floss Gloss just introduced a funky 70s peachy-pink called “Pulp” that is forever sold out.
Thick, pastel color blocks, fun images reminiscent of the hippy-era (like daisies), and designs that will transport you to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco are on trend. We are actually revamping our logo and website with some of this is mind 🙂
Follow Katie and Mylk Bar on Insta: @Mylk.Bar | Katie’s personal Instal @cosgroveshields | Check out Mylk Bar’s website to book an appointment! (suggested to book in advanced) – www.mylk.bar
XOXO – Beckett Team!