Travis Long

Paintbar owners Heather Brewer and Catherine Fain

“I wanted to give a better service and still keep it affordable. Catherine felt the same way but she always brought her style and her retail experience and her fashion experience.” – Heather Brewer, co-founder, Paintbar

by Mimi Montgomery

photograph by Travis Long

Last year, Heather Brewer and Catherine Fain were out to dinner when they realized they both shared the same idea: to open a high-end nail salon in Raleigh. The market had inexpensive spots and pricey spas, they believed, but nothing in between. “It was very serendipitous,” says Brewer. “I had been thinking about it for a while, but I knew I needed a partner to do it with me.” Their joint creation, Paintbar, opened on Tucker Street last October. The chic-yet-affordable nail salon caters to a wide range of customers, from those who want to come in for a quick, inexpensive polish change to those who want to stay for an hour and be pampered. It’s all part of the duo’s approach to making luxury a little more convenient – and safer, too. Paintbar is committed to setting the standard for a clean, top-of-the-line experience: it doesn’t have jets in its foot tubs or use acrylics or electronic files, and it carries nail polish brands that are free of toxins.

The women’s business partnership is strengthened by the jobs they’ve had before and the work they still do when they’re not at Paintbar. Brewer is a real estate attorney who still practices on contract a few days a month. The skill came in handy when researching health codes and sanitation laws and negotiating their lease. “I think we have very complementary skill sets when it comes to starting a new business … I couldn’t even read the lease,” Fain says with a laugh. Brewer’s legal background is bolstered by Fain’s public relations and style experience: She writes a popular style blog, Southern Arrondissement; designs and manages her own clothing line, Ramey Rhodes; and has been a copywriter and social media manager. The duo’s combination of extracurricular business savvy and style makes for an innovatively luxurious experience for Raleigh women – and men, too, Fain is quick to add. After all, “Who doesn’t love a foot rub?”

705 Tucker St.;