Her business is about more than nails. Meet Domani Nail Spa owner, Schenectady’s Anita Hug-Jones – The Daily Gazette

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GETTING TO KNOW – For Anita Hug-Jones, the owner of Domani Nail Spa, her business is about more than nails.
“Nails is the vehicle for people to come to me, but when you sit in my chair, it’s healing. You’re not just getting your nails done,” Hug-Jones said.
That philosophy has been with her through 25 years in business on Union Street.
Hug-Jones spent some of her earliest childhood in London but considers herself a Schenectadian since her family moved to the area when she was 7 years old. She studied cosmetology through BOCES while attending Niskayuna High School. From there, she worked in a salon before going on to start Domani and work for Odyssey Nail Systems. She also became well-known in the nail industry for competing in national nail technician competitions.
Domani, which is located at 1606 Union Street #6145, recently won best nail spa in the Daily Gazette’s 2022 Best of the Best competition.
The Gazette recently caught up with Hug-Jones about how she got her start and her advice to budding entrepreneurs.
Q: What made you want to go into business?
A: I’m what I consider second generation of migrants from India to here. I’ve got the hustle in me. My grandfather came with no money and basically built 17 jewelry stores by the time he was done. It’s a rags-to-riches type of story.
What I learned from my grandfather all the way up to my mother, who is probably my biggest hero, is you work. Your life is work.
Q: What got you into the beauty industry?
A: When I was younger, I would do everybody’s hair and I would do their makeup. They would call me the little beautician in the house and it just stuck with me.

Anita Hug-Jones.
Q: Was it too long after graduating from the BOCES program that you opened Domani?
A: I worked in a salon here on Union Street. I really never left Union Street; it became my little home. Then I decided to venture out on my own and I had a very small salon just for myself.
At that time, I was running the salon, but I was also competing. I started working for a manufacturer (Odyssey Nail System) and started competing for nails nationwide. So I was a Schenectadian going up against people worldwide. [The competitions were] called pink-and-whites. I competed for about five years. I made it to number 18 in the nation.
Then I became the director of education for that company and then I started working for Nails magazine and did articles for them.
Q: How has your salon changed over the years?
A: This month is my 25th anniversary of having the salon and I have been through it all. We grew to nine technicians here. Then, tragically, [six years ago] I had gotten really sick. I was in the ICU for 18 days. I didn’t think I’d make it back from that. The salon was closed for three months. All my staff left me because you can’t run a salon if it’s closed for three months. So all my clients left. I was done. I put the salon up for sale. I had six potential buyers. None of them came through.
I basically surrendered it all and said alright, God, just lead the way and I’m going to follow. I just ran the shop by myself and slowly started building back up again little by little. I had two other technicians come to join me. Then COVID happened. We shut down for three months and that was scary.
During COVID, I posted a picture of how we were setting up the salon and what we were going to do to be open. Next thing you know I become the go-to PPE person for Schenectady because I have all the connections with the manufacturers. I was getting the shields before anybody else could get their hands on them.
So for us, it was easy [to figure out how to reopen where other] salon owners didn’t know what to do. I put together a booklet on how to open your salon and I helped salon owners in this area figure out what they needed to do to reopen.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who would like to become business owners?
A: If you’re passionate about what you do, you will do it well. When I was young, I worked for a hair salon and I will never forget, [a mentor there] said, ‘If you want to do really well in this industry, you gotta eat, breathe and sleep it.’ I always knew that from my mom and that’s what I did.
You’ve got to chase your own dream. No one’s going to do it for you. You’ve got to give it your all and see where it takes you. And you’ve got to be nice. This industry is very backstabbing. There are a lot of egos and you don’t need to be like that. Find your strength and really hone in on that.
Q: Is there anything you want people to know about Domani?
A: What makes Domani different than any other nail salon is we’re not a drive-thru salon. You’re not walking in here and 15 minutes later, your manicure is done and then 10 minutes later, your pedicure is done. This is more of an experience.
“Getting To Know …” is a weekly feature spotlighting people making a difference in the lives of others. If there’s someone you think we should feature, let us know by emailing us at [email protected]
Categories: Business, Email Newsletter, News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County
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