We've Got Her Back: Joy Terrell of Powder

  All photos by  Bree McCool Photography

In the age of Shark Tank and Silicon Valley success stories, all too often it can feel like entrepreneurship is a game for only the very smart and very wealthy. Many people spend lifetimes waiting for that million-dollar idea to strike, or as women, we tend to spin ourselves out wanting something to be perfect before launching it into the big bad world. Through all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, it's easy to forget that the best business ideas tend to be the simplest, like a solution to a widespread problem. For Joy Terrell, that meant leaving entertainment law behind and opening Powder on La Brea in Mid-City.

Joy is a former attorney and owner of Powder, a nail salon that specializes in powder dip nails, a technique popular in the south that is slowly making its way to LA. While it’s certainly rare to find a former entertainment lawyer running a nail salon from open to close, six days a week, it’s not surprising to see a female entrepreneur busting her ass day in and day out to make it work. “It’s totally a roller coaster,” she said. “I could not have ever imagined going into this how tough it would be. I obviously knew there would be difficulties, but the extent has been mindblowing.” She’s referring to the nonstop demands of owning and operating your own business: Wearing multiple hats, 18-hour work days, proactive outreach to promote and grow the business on top of the salon’s already long list of daily operations like scheduling appointments, welcoming clients with tea or coffee, prepping guests for their services, showing color swatches, doing inventory – just to name a few.

Female founders know this lifestyle all too well. Most of us are stretched thin, exhausted from jumping from task to task all day long and sometimes deep into the night. “You are responsible for anything and everything that happens. It all falls on you,” she said. This enormous responsibility and constant pressure make it almost impossible for most of us to ever completely detach or power down, even temporarily.

But upon meeting Joy, the incredible thing about her as a business owner is, well, her joyful disposition. She has a passion for powder dip nails that radiates when she explains the technique to anyone who is not yet familiar. “With powder dip, there are no harsh primers. And actually the adhesive that the powder sticks to has vitamins and minerals. So on top of all of that, you see this benefit of nail growth,” she said. Unlike gels that require layers of pungent lacquers cured by UV light, powder dip uses a powdered pigment that dries immediately and comes in a wide array of beautiful, vibrant colors. For Joy, a self-proclaimed lifelong nail biter who struggled with the embarrassment of unsightly nails since childhood, it was a game-changer. She had first discovered it while living in Atlanta a few years ago, where she had temporarily moved to be closer to her now-husband. Naturally, the lawyer in her was skeptical at first. “Of course when they first told me that when I was getting them done in Atlanta, I was like that’s BS. You’re joking. But then when I saw my nails grow, I was like this is legit.” After her first powder dip manicure, she was hooked. In 2017, she moved back to LA and she searched far and wide for a salon that offered powder dip nails. What she found was that even in a city as large as LA, the options were limited. She saw it as a problem, but also an opportunity. “So I thought you know what, this is it. I’m going to go ahead and jump in,” she said.

And jump in she did. With the support of her husband and mother, Joy signed the lease for Powder in March of last year. “Right now every dime that has been put into this space has been ours. There was no loan, no investor money.” But looking around the luxurious, intricately decorated salon, you would never know. Powder’s aesthetic is a tasteful blend of simplicity and luxury, grounded in handcrafted metal and concrete finishes. Joy describes it as “luxury enough without being intimidating.” A sign reads “Powder to the People” at the register, while luxe tufted blue armchairs, copper soaking tubs, and wooden end tables make up the pedicure stations. 

But before she could begin on the eye-catching design that draws passersby to her storefront window, the space required a complete overhaul to make it ADA compliant. After months of renovation, Joy was ready to flex her creative muscles. Like most first-time entrepreneurs, she had to figure out how to pull all the stops on a limited budget. “How can we come up with an amazing space on a budget?” she asked herself. Executing her vision meant she would have to get resourceful. “I knew I didn’t have the budget to hire a really expensive designer, so that part was me. But I knew I needed custom furniture built.” So she reached out to a welding school in Atwater Village and wound up connecting with Amario, a teacher from Italy who had previously designed furniture for the Vatican before making the move to LA. Between Joy’s sketches and Amario’s craftsmanship, they were able to bring her sketches to life. “Everything from the tables to the chairs to the chair legs to the stools to the platforms to the carts – everything is custom,” she said.

As Joy’s journey reminds us, being resourceful also means asking for help when you need it. In addition to working with Amario, she let the pros come in and do their job when it came time to set up the salon’s stations and train nail technicians on the powder dip process. “I knew going into this that I couldn’t try to play nail expert because I’m not,” she said. “I’m not a licensed nail technician. What I am is a lifelong customer. I needed to find somebody who had expertise on the other end.” After a few months of staffing challenges and smoothing out the kinks, Powder officially opened its doors to the public in December.

Aside from the nail technicians, Powder is a family affair. Her mom, Sunny, came out of retirement to work alongside her daughter, while her husband handles marketing and advertising behind the scenes, in addition to his full-time job as an advertising executive. The nail and facial salon is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and Sundays from 10am to 6pm. To learn more about Powder and to book an appointment, visit powderbeautyco.com.