‘Bam! Look at these nails’: Bam Nail Studio adds some polish to Pleasant Street in Northampton

By Emily Thurlow

For the Gazette

Published: 09-06-2023 4:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Like the name of her new business suggests, Alaina Bavelas hopes that Bam Nail Studio will have an impact on the city.

But unlike the heavy sound that resonates from a falling object, Bavelas intends the sound that accompanies her “Bam” will be that of elation or glee after she delivers 10 freshly manicured nails at her new salon at 376 Pleasant St.

“When you feel like you have really good nails you’re like: ‘Bam! Look at these nails!’” she said. “Nails are kind of like jewelry — you can change it as often as you want. And getting your nails done can be such a transformational experience.”

In addition to the fun and light-hearted onomatopoeia to the business’ name, it also represents the initials of Bavelas’ daughter. Though she tried out a number of different names, the combination meaning also made the most branding sense, she added.

Bavelas moved to Northampton from Brooklyn two years ago. Though she had been considering a departure from the Empire state for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic solidified her decision and she sought out a new home for her daughter that included more space, more nature and access to good schools, without sacrificing cultural experiences.

For Bavelas, who has family throughout western Massachusetts and lived in Longmeadow for a few years as a child, those attributes added up to Northampton.

“When I decided I wanted to leave New York, Northampton really checked off a lot of boxes for me,” she said.

Nailing a niche

Once she settled in the Valley, Bavelas soon discovered a niche market in the nail industry and decided to open her own premiere Gel-X and gel-only nail salon.

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Though she has spent most of her professional beauty career focused on makeup artistry, having worked in the industry in New York City for 15 years at venues like DryBar and Birchbox, she always had a penchant for doing her own nails as well as her friend’s, and made a point to stay up on the latest trends.

“When I moved here, I realized that there just wasn’t a place that was doing the most relevant techniques. And I thought, ‘well, I know how to do those things,’ so I got my Massachusetts license,” she said.

Gel-X is a relatively new kind of nail treatment that adds length and structure with a full tip and flexible extension. Industry experts claim that the treatment can give the strength of gel nails as well as the length of acrylics without destroying the real nail underneath. The Gel-X lays over the entire nail and is pre-shaped. A full set or rebalance is $90 and includes cuticle care, extension resizing and one gel polish color.

“These services are becoming wildly popular,” she said. “They’re all over social media and they’re available all over the New York and Boston area … and it’s not around here, so I decided to bring it to the area.”

Bavelas says that the techniques she offers provide longer-lasting results.

She also offers structured manicures, which is a gel technique that reinforces the natural look of a nail while adding strength at the same time. A full set or rebalance is $90.

Most clients’ nails will last between three and four weeks.

What sets Bam Nail Studio apart from a traditional nail salon is the overall environment, Bavelas said.

“My studio is very clean — I want to provide a healthy and hygienic location,” she said. “I also use products that don’t have a high odor and have the least amount of allergic reactions possible. It’s almost impossible to assess whether someone could be allergic to something, but I do take a lot of time in making sure that the products that I use don’t have a lot of ingredients that tend to cause allergies.”

Bavelas also noted that she is committed to using the least amount of single-use plastics as possible. All tools, including nail files, are reusable and able to be sterilized. The majority of products are also vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free, and free of the 21 most harmful toxins found in some polishes, such as lead and animal-derived ingredients.

Bam Nail Studio is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment or inquire about services, visit bamnailstudio.com.