LOCAL FOCUS

Wee Young has Key West at her fingertips


JENNIFER POTTER / FLORIDA WEEKLY

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LARRY BLACKBURN

There’s nothing a fresh manicure can’t fix, especially if you ask nail tech and salon owner Wee Young. Originally from Thailand, Young has been painting nails and changing lives one manicure at a time since 2002, when she landed her first manicurist gig at the Pier House Spa.

Young moved to Key West in 2000 after moving to the United States from her Thailand home. She spent some time living in New York before seeking a change of scenery and, like so many others lured by the siren call of the Florida Keys, soon found herself on the rock. She worked tirelessly as a waitress, nail tech and housekeeper, because, for many, three jobs is what it takes to live in paradise.

“I came to Key West with a friend on vacation,” Young tells me. “Right away, I fell in love with the island. Plus, the fact that you didn’t need a car was very appealing to me. When I first moved to Key West, I biked to all three of my jobs and began saving money for my dream.”

A dream that she is now living.

Wee Young, right, at Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa, her full-service luxury location in New Town.

Wee Young, right, at Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa, her full-service luxury location in New Town. PHOTO BY LARRY BLACKBURN

Young’s humble beginnings have helped shape her into the savvy businesswoman that she is today. For her first move, Young moved into a highly coveted piece of commercial real estate in the Duval Square Mall and opened her flagship salon, Nail Bar & Lounge (1075 Duval St.). The seats at Nail Bar were always full, so Young decided to expand by acquiring a swanky new spot out in New Town, called Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa (3229 Flagler Ave., Suite 102). Though the Nail Bar in Old Town offers the highest quality nail services, the new location in New Town offers a more diverse spa menu, from massages and facials to waxing, hair, eyelash extensions and, of course, nail services.

From the moment you set foot into the luxurious spa on Flagler Avenue, your senses are greeted with the sweet smell of lemongrass. A cold glass of your favorite white or red wine awaits you as you check in to serenity and disconnect from the chaos of the outside world. Relaxing instrumental music plays in the background and invites you to relax right into the space.

A huge selection of polishes is on display at the Zen-like Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa. JENNIFER POTTER / FLORIDA WEEKLY

A huge selection of polishes is on display at the Zen-like Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa. PHOTO BY LARRY BLACKBURN

Young’s full-service spa includes six manicure tables and four unique leather pedicure chairs for all your acrylic, powder and gel needs. Like its sister salon, the Duval Square Nail Bar, the drinks stay flowing while you enjoy the services provided by Young’s skilled team of aestheticians. Guests can choose from an array of beverages, including wine, infused water, beer and soda. The overall vibe of the spa is luxurious and peaceful. Beverages, beautifying and peace and quiet — what more could a stressed-out city girl ask for?

After a night out, during which I consumed way more spirits than a human should consume (what’s a bored Key West girl to do, though?), I decided it was time to take a time out and focus on a little self care. After all, the caterpillars that were my eyebrows were looking like they were ready to walk off my face at any moment. And as for my nails, they hadn’t seen a fill in weeks. I was long overdue for a little self love and attention.

The Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa includes six manicure tables and four unique leather pedicure chairs.

The Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa includes six manicure tables and four unique leather pedicure chairs. PHOTO BY LARRY BLACKBURN

I drove my Mini Cooper to New Town from my Old Town home and had no problem parking. If you live in Old Town or you’re visiting, then you know free parking is worth its weight in gold. I made my way into the Zen-like space and was greeted by Young and her friendly staff. I had an appointment for a quick wax and acrylic fill followed by a pedicure.

After spending a ridiculous amount of time choosing my nail color (you would have thought I was picking my future husband on an episode of “The Bachelorette”), I settled on the same orange I always use. Typical Jenn Potter behavior.

Young filled the foot bath with steamy water and added a bouquet of salts and scents as I sat back in my massage chair and scrolled through the texts that I knew I shouldn’t have sent the night before. I blame the Casamigos, but I digress. It was time for my pedicure and I needed to concentrate. I had recently suffered a minor nail emergency (long story short, I don’t recommend wearing new shoes on a trip overseas) and Young’s creative staff knew just the trick to help me solve all of my foot-related woes. I was so thankful, as were my new and improved eyebrows. Thanks to Young, my once ugly caterpillars were now transformed into beautiful butterflies.

After another agonizing selection process, I chose a chrome polish for my fingernails. It’s something new and trendy that all the cool kids are doing, so naturally I had to try it. The gel and powder process was fast, easy and oh-so fabulous. The nail tech painted a coat of white gel polish on my nails before dipping my fingertips into an iridescent powder. The result: chrome nails that looked shinier than a new Caddy. After the filing and buffing was finished, I was ready to start my day over — still hungover, but way cuter than when I arrived.

“I want people to come to my spa to unwind and relax,” Young says. “I want them to enjoy a drink with their girlfriends and take the time to spoil themselves rotten.”

Young’s full-service spa offers only the best products and her staff is well trained to provide clients with a beautifying experience. “We carry OPI, DND and Essie nail products,” Young explains. “My staff is trained and can do gel, acrylic and powder manicures and pedicures. We offer the same services you’d find at any full-service hotel day spa on the island, but for a fraction of the cost. We want our clients to feel welcome in a non-pretentious space.”

Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa is your one-stop location for all your self love needs. You can get your hair done, indulge in a facial, massage, manicure or pedicure, and add some volume to those basic lashes of yours. The spa itself is Zen, airy and welcoming.

Life may not be perfect, but your nails can be and a trip to Southernmost Nail Bar & Spa is the only way to guarantee a perfect match. Go ahead and, as Young says, spoil yourself rotten. You know you deserve it. ¦

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