For 30 years, Cristina Q. Navarrette has been doing nails in La Jolla. She's so beloved by her longtime clients that she's simply known as Cristina Q. That's also the name of her salon on Fay Avenue, where she's the only manicurist among a staff of 12, most of them hairstylists.
It was family obligation that originally led Navarrette to become a manicurist. "I went to school for fashion design merchandising," she explained, "and I ended up doing nails, because having small children at home I wanted to make sure I could make my own hours. Being a nails technician I found was the best route to go.
"A friend of mine in LA had a nail salon and that gave me the idea to start my own."
It wasn't simply convenience that set Navarrette on her path, however. "I love working with my hands," she said.
She loves working with yours, too, if you're in need of a manicure. "I allow an hour for every single client," she said. "Whether I take the whole hour or not depends on their nails. I don't cut corners."
As for her fee: "I charge $35 for a simple manicure — but it's not really a simple manicure because I take great care in every part of it."
Navarrette said she specializes in "natural nails" as opposed to relying on gels or acrylics in her manicures. That her finished manicures last a week, she added, works out fine because her loyal customers enjoy coming back the next week for service and the kind of friendship that evolves from two people seeing each other so often.
"They're very special," Navarette said of her regular clients. "I sit across from them every single week. I'm there mostly to listen to them, and of course as time progresses they listen to what I have to say. But my main role is to listen to them, to cater to them.
"I have been through childbirth through grammar school to high school and bar mitzvahs, to weddings; I've been through all of that with my clients," Navarrette said. "They are my family. I see them more than I do see some family members."
In case you're wondering, Navarrette also does pedicures at her salon. "A lot of my top-notch clients call me their foot doctor," she said. "They tell me 'You have saved me from going to the podiatrist.'"
Whether it's fingers or toes she's working on, Cristina Q takes immense pride in her work. "With every person I want them to feel as if it's the first time that I've done their nails," she said. "I take my time with what I do. The day that I can't take the time I won't do this job anymore."
Don't count on that day coming anytime soon.
Cristina Q the Salon is at 7741 Fay Ave. in La Jolla. (858) 456-2602. facebook.com/Cristina-Q-the-salon-110274823778/
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