Austin's Beauty Collective
Paloma Botanical Beauty Salon feels more like an artists collective than a traditional salon. Owners Evette Richards and Levi Dugat opened Paloma’s doors in 2009 with the intention of “celebrating beauty in all forms.” The result? A dynamic mix of art, retail and beauty services that caters to people who want a down-to-earth, professional experience.
When you walk through the frosted doors located in the nondescript heart of the Mueller shopping center, a friendly receptionist greets you and offers you a drink of your choice. While you wait, you can check out a highly curated selection of vintage clothes from Lechuza Blanca’s Samantha Cradduck, who keeps the limited stock fresh by swapping items out on a daily basis. She also offers personal styling to clients who seek it, so just let her know what you’re looking for and she can more than likely find it.
Nail artist Meghann Rosalez of Nail’s Y’all garnered national attention this year for her signature Wendy Davis nails. The petite cartoonist, who sketches original nail art for clients on the spot, doesn’t mess around with acrylics or pedicures. “I don’t love nails. I love nail art,” she says — and the weirder the art, the better.
The women of Paloma have the power to make us believe that the beauty industry can be a force for good in the world.
A flip through her sketchbook reveals a shocking array of personalized designs, including the rare (Popeye’s Fried Chicken nails!) and the trendy (Rosalez has been a lot of art deco nails).
(It should be pointed out that Meghann also has amazing eyelashes. They’re thick and long and slightly wild and artfully applied by fellow Paloman Kelly Hankamer. The former jeweler, who glues extensions on lash-by-lash, likens the process of applying eyelash extensions to the creation of silver filigree.)
Near Meghann’s nail table in the bright and airy main room works Lauren DeWalt, a master stylist who has hair in her blood (not literally, but almost: her grandfather owned a salon). Though she specializes in short cuts — she is seriously skilled in the art of asymmetry — we can vouch that any length of hair would be safe in her hands.
Off the main space sit two cozy rooms where more services are offered, including acupuncture, massage, hair removal and the like. You can get a massage by Celeste Egedy, which is a very good thing. Her technique is a graceful choreography of strong, soothing strokes. It should come as no surprise to learn that Celeste spent much of her life as a dancer.
Then there is Evette, the matriarch of the Paloma family. A facial from Evette is not only a relaxing, restorative, cleansing experience that smells really good; it’s also an opportunity to be tutored in the molecular stricture of your skin by an herbalist with a degree in women’s health care. (She also shapes eyebrows and dyes eyelashes, which are both surprisingly relaxing procedures in such capable hands.)
This doesn’t even cover all that Paloma has to offer. More than anything, the women of Paloma have the power to make us believe that the beauty industry can be a force for good in the world, and not simply a consumerist racket set on exploiting our deepest insecurities. Unlike in some salon settings, where there is the struggle to compete for clientele, there is a strong sense of support and camaraderie among the women of Paloma. Every one is at the top of her game in her craft, and everyone is excited to work with — and learn from — one another.