By ASHLEY COKER

Nicole Lea opened Mermaid Styles Salon less than a month ago, and she’s already booked solid.

Nicole has 15 years of experience as a stylist. After working at two different salons, she decided to ditch the traditional salon environment in favor of opening a salon out of her Hendersonville home in order to offer a better experience for her clients.

“I really wanted to start a salon that was intimate, where it was just me and the client,” Nicole said. “Not everybody feels comfortable sitting around a salon with a bunch of other people they know from the community with foils in their hair or their make-up not done.”

Visitors to Mermaid Style Salon are greeted with something far from the typical salon experience.

Nicole welcomes clients into a room draped with white gauzy curtains and sea-inspired decor. Guests will find a plush chair, cold drink and personal hors d’oeuvre waiting for them.

Treats for a client // Photo courtesy Nicole Lea

“If my clients are coming right after work, I want them to know they’re going to get a snack before dinner,” Nicole said. “Or that they can have something to eat in the morning if they’re running late and coming to get their hair done before work or something.”

The VIP treatment does not stop with the treats, though. Nicole makes it a point to only see one client at a time, so each guest will have her undivided attention.

Nicole guarantees her client will be happy with her work.

“If for some reason they go home and decide something needs to be different, I will happily have them come back and make it right at no added charge,” Nicole said.

Nicole welcomes clients to bring their children along as well, providing a television they can watch while their parent gets pampered.

Before (left) and after (right) an appointment with Nicole // Photo courtesy Nicole Lea

The salon is not Nicole’s only gig. She is also a professional mermaid.

“I’ve wanted to be a mermaid since I was three years old, and I’ve pretty much worked my whole life to make that happen,” Nicole said.

She runs the business Mermaid Nicole Lea, donning a 40-pound silicon tail and making appearances at children’s birthday parties and other events.

Being a mermaid and doing hair are both big parts of Nicole’s life, so opening a mermaid-themed salon seemed like a natural next step. The fact that mermaids are becoming increasingly prevalent in pop culture right now is just a bonus.

“As much as I love mermaids, I thought a mermaid style salon would get people’s attention,” she said. “I feel like mermaids are blowing up everywhere right now. I see them in every store I go into.”

Nicole was right. In her first week of business, she saw nearly 20 clients and her schedule quickly booked up for weeks in advance.

Mermaid Styles Salon offers cut and color services, hair tinsel and keratin treatments, along with gift cards other typical salon services.

To make an appointment or learn more, contact Nicole at (615) 420-5413.