Alexa Bass and Linda Byrd aren’t your average business owners. Together their proving it’s not such a bad thing if beauty really is skin deep and just getting your hair and nails done in Nashville is just, well,…done.
Longtime partners in life and in business, Bass and Byrd have opened a uniquely new day spa / salon concept on Elliston Place called Urban Fusion. It’s partly Zen chic, full-body experience is seamlessly combined with a gallery for one-of-a-kind high-end purses, glasses, and other fashion forward accessories you simply won’t find anywhere else near the Mason-Dixon line.
Ten years ago, though, and hundreds of miles away, Bass and Byrd were running a small but respectable hair and nail salon in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Business was good but their finely manicured dreams were really much better.
“We have been planning this for a long time,” says the soft-spoken Bass, explaining why she and her partner decided to pull the plug on the blow dryers in Fayetteville and head west. “We’re from the south, but we have always liked more urban environments. Nashville is so progressive and open to new concepts, so that has helped us tremendously.”
Right after moving to town and settling in West End, the duo decided to take up jobs in computer science and wholesale marketing. Their early vocations paid off when they eventually decided to set up shop.
“We did lots of market research and considered several locations, like Brentwood” says Byrd. “But we decided that we wanted a business with more of an urban style.” Their dramatic workspace is nothing less than an understatement.
Adjacently located to Elliston’s La Peep restaurant, Urban Fusion’s owners want to break some trends in the local beauty business. Inside what looks from the street to be a small, non-descript corporate office, fourteen small rooms with hand-carved and shellacked wooden ceiling fixtures house three different levels of indoor tanning; all cooled with their own central air conditioning unit. The largest, a bed that offers a tan that looks like you spent a week on the beach in just ten minutes, glows an eye popping purple clear out onto Elliston Place when it’s turned on at night.
“There is 28 tons of HVAC equipment inside the ceilings,” Bass points out. “The building wasn’t made for this industry so we had to be creative. It really prolonged the process but in the end, our clients will have an experience here unlike anywhere else.”
Next to the Hall of Tanning, a meditation room forms the core of the space, complete with rice paper wall panels, soft music and dimmed lights. A set of pocket doors reveals a series of Italian spa chairs — each of them multi-task, with high-tech mechanics that soothe the body from head-to-toe.
All things considered, the usual facials, exfoliations and microdermabrasions are offered at Urban Fusion, while a couples massage area and a fully self-contained hydrotherapy unit provide (among other things) underwater massages, round out the day spa offerings. Just one soundproofed wall over, former Salon FX stylist, Jason Smith, hold court over clients’ hair. Beyond the three station stylist’s area, gray Italian shampoo stations tilt and lean from the floor to accommodate just about anybody’s hairdo.
Ala carte services are available, as well as all-inclusive spa packages for those who want to pamper themselves for the day. But when Urban Fusion holds its grand opening later this month, Bass and Byrd may find themselves in the enviable position of being their own first customers. “We’ve been through a lot. We’re a little drained, physically and emotionally tired, but it’s all been worth it.”