by Jewel Bell
Along with the many changes and new development that has come to Bayview Hunters Point, one in particular is extremely motivating. Bayview native Richard Washington, 44, is an inspiring entrepreneur who has set out to bring a little elegance and class back to the community.
Once involved in a life of crime, he has decided to come back into his community and devote himself toward constructing a luxurious nail care salon for both the women and men of Bayview. Mr. Washington stated: “I’m building this company on a couple of basic principles – one being cultural diversity. The second is cleanliness, thoroughness and sterilization, and the third – me not being discriminatory.
“I have a very diverse staff. Three or four of them are Vietnamese ladies, I have a Japanese lady, I have two Latina ladies, and I have a sista that’s an esthetician” specializing in facials, waxing and other skin treatments. “I’m just trying to do something fresh and new, and break some cycles.”
Mr. Washington and his community were very excited to see Luxurious Nail Boutique and Spa open its doors the week of Oct. 29, 2016, at 4138 Third St. He also hosted a red carpet prelaunch mixer on Saturday, Oct. 22, inviting the community to come out to eat, drink and socialize with potential clients, friends and family.
Recently I sat down with Mr. Washington to probe some of his thoughts on why creating a small business in Bayview is so important. I wanted to know some of the obstacles that he may or may not have faced in this endeavor, whether he has community support and what are his plans for the future.
Jewel: What inspired your idea for a nail boutique?
Richard: Well, I always knew that I wanted to be my own boss, but I just never knew what type of business I wanted to own. Last year around this time, flipping through the channels, I seen a sista that owned a nail salon, and it was like 20 Black nail technicians. And I was like, “Wow, you do not SEE that!” That got me interested.
Then I came to the neighborhood, and I seen it was just no more nail salons, no immediate competition. Also, it has been a lot of research. I get six or seven women together and I take them out to lunch and bounce stuff off of them. What makes you happy? What are you angry with? What do you need to change? What will make you leave your nail technician now and come to Luxurious and make that your home?
You have to spend money to make money. I’m not trying to just get some big windfall of money and do questionable business practices in order to achieve that. I want you to 10 years from now say, “You know, this is my nail salon that I go to.”
Jewel: What type of roadblocks did you have to overcome toward bringing Luxurious Nail Boutique to life?
Richard: Just basic stuff, like clean your credit up, so that’s a task in itself. But I didn’t necessarily have bad credit. I just didn’t have any credit.
Jewel: Have you come into any type of systemic roadblocks?
Richard: Not in terms of that, because the contractor that I have is very well versed in San Francisco law and code. So they made sure I had all the proper licensing, and made sure that I knew all of the different intricacies of starting up a business.
Jewel: What type of support have you gotten from the community and otherwise?
Richard: I have been blessed all the way around. Everybody has been super helpful and instrumental in helping me get this thing off the ground. It’s just a matter of having the right people around you that’s just guiding you in the right direction. In order to get the loan, I went through a loan company called Main Street Launch in Oakland, and my financial mentor, Robert Lattimore, was instrumental in the process.
During the interview, a neighbor and neighborhood friend drop by to congratulate Richard on the shop and give him a hug.
Richard: See, I’m a local and this is the exactly the reason why I’m going to be at my front desk. Shake hands, hug people, talk to the babies. Human contact is the most important form of marketing that you can do. It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. Everybody I come in contact with I try to put a smile on their face. And it’s genuine.
Jewel: How do you plan to give back to the community?
Richard: I hired one of our natives from the neighborhood, Phillip Hills – his daughter is 29 years old and she is an experienced esthetician.
Jewel: Third Street has many events now, such as Third on Third. Will you contribute to these events?
Richard: Of course! I will donate my time, you know, because I don’t want to be just some nail salon popping up in the community and that’s it.
Jewel: What advice can you give any up and coming entrepreneurs?
Richard: Man, listen, tap into your resources, do your homework, and when someone is giving you advice, remember that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a specific reason. We need to do double the listening we do talking. Get all the information you can and clean your credit up. Credit is the new cash.
Also, you’ve got to be financially educated by somebody, and you just have to be diligent in that pursuit. Essentially if you’re asking for $100,000, they want to see you have $20,000 in your bank account.
That takes some financial discipline. Start bringing your lunch to work; don’t be spending $10 to $15 every day. If you smoke cigarettes, quit smoking cigarettes. That’s about $2,000 a year. You know, it’s just a lot of minor adjustments that I made.
Jewel: What are your plans for the future?
Richard: My plan for the future is to have like 10 locations across the country, and I have some food ideas as well. I have three children. My son is Richard Jr.; my daughter is Reneck. I have another son Rayshawn. I have two grandchildren, Richard III and Reshay.
I wanted to make sure that when I go, they’re OK. That’s my goal in life. I want to create some generational wealth, so my name means something a hundred years from now.
That’s the key to creating generational wealth: It’s not just being able to buy some rims right now; we want to be able to buy parcels of property and be our own boss and employ people from our community. That’s the important stuff to me.
When I leave this earth, they’ll have something. They can take over the reins and make my name mean something in the community.
After concluding this interview with Mr. Washington, I too was enthusiastic and inspired by his newest endeavor. It is refreshing to see those from the same community that I come from grow and build themselves up. Overcoming the adversities that people in the Bayview deal with – the same as in any hood across America – can be a tremendous task, one that some cannot escape.
However, Mr. Washington has not only overcome these barriers, he has set a precedent toward Black excellence within our community and toward achieving any goal we set for ourselves. I walked away from Luxurious Nail Boutique and Spa with a greater grasp of how dreams can become reality.
If you too would like a chance to experience the luxury coming to the Bayview, here’s the info: Luxurious Nail Boutique and Spa is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 415-285-2842.
Bayview Hunters Point-based writer Jewel Bell can be reached at email@example.com.