In 2016, Nina Park went into the business of crafting and selling nail wraps online. This month, her company is finally opening a brick-and-mortar location — at least temporarily.
Park’s SCRATCH Nail Wraps is one of nine female-owned (and mostly local) businesses taking over The Current retail incubator at 100 Seaport Blvd. through July. It’s the “go-to shopping destination for discovering the most exciting emerging brands,” according to Carina Donoso from WS Development, which manages retail space across 33 acres of the neighborhood.
The cube-shaped storefronts previously housed businesses like Instagram beauty powerhouse Glossier and the ear piercing studio Studs. Now, Park will use the space to sell her cruelty-free creations, which come in a smorgasbord of colorful patterns — think polka dots, flower patterns, and geometric masterpieces. The designs are printed on a thin adhesive that can be removed with acetone. (Single wraps sell for $12 or two for $20 at the store.)
“In the past, I’ve only done two- or three-day trade shows,” said Park, who runs SCRATCH from her Newton home. “Creating a space feels like putting my insides on display.”
Nail wraps aside, Park has also invited local artists, including Angie Michelle (@pimpmyset) and Rayah Naji (@frostedtips), to hand-paint customers’ nails on select Thursdays and Saturdays for a $12 booking fee.
SCRATCH was founded not by Park, but by Chelsea Kent with the help of a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. During her tenure, Kent recruited a cohort of independent artists to create wrap designs she then sold online.
Park was one of those creators. She first got involved as a graduate student with a modest Instagram following of 5,000. But she dropped the side hustle when she started working as a high school English teacher in the Boston Public Schools. Eventually, Kent — ready to move onto bigger and better things — handed SCRATCH to Park.
“I thought it was crazy,” Park said. “But my husband has an entrepreneurial heart. He had seen me painting nails for years and years and encouraged me to make it a business. When Chelsea came in with this incredible offer, how could I say no?”
Park has since transformed the business into a subscription service fueled by her personal inventions, named the NinaNailedIt Monthly Mani Kit. (Her Instagram @NinaNailedIt now has nearly 100,000 followers.)
In total, she’s designed over 70 wraps in Illustrator and Photoshop — a handful of which are sold at Ulta and Madewell nationwide. Park has painted nails for New York Fashion Week, numerous TV shows, and worked on marketing campaigns with companies like Buzzfeed, Nike, Dunkin’ Donuts, The Food Network, and Puma.
In the Seaport, she is joined by loungewear company 1987; women’s fashion boutique Ouimillie; Flyte.70, a cosmetics line for older women; coffee brewers Coffee Bae; sustainable baby food brand The Little Cocoa Bean Co.; Brave Daughters, a fine jewelry company; plant care and styling Wesleaf Design and Décor; and the Little Words Project, a custom bracelet creator.
100 Seaport Blvd., Boston; Open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
New vendors galore at the Boston Public Market
With downtown Boston finally emerging from its pandemic-era lull, Boston Public Market is in the midst of a revival of sorts.
Seven vendors have opened in the indoor marketplace since December, and there are no vacancies left, said Cheryl Cronin, chief executive of the Boston Public Market Association. She began to sense a renewed willingness from customers to shop and eat about eight months ago. That’s when “people began to see the light,” she added. “And we provide so much more support than a regular brick-and-mortar location that it just made sense for folks to open here.”
The market did not charge vendors rent or only required a small portion of their sales revenue in 2020; despite that, a number of stalls closed up shop amid the long, slow months of the pandemic.
Eateries comprise a large chunk of the newest businesses. There’s the office caterer turned lunch spot Rootastes and the fast-casual Korean kitchen Perillas, which already sells bibimbap in Somerville’s Bow Market and Allston-Brighton. Two brothers — Lucas and Zach Reckling — also launched Bagel Guild in the former Levend Bagelry space. It has all the staples: sesame bagels, chive cream cheese, and lox.
Seven Hills Pasta Co. has dried, handmade pasta and cooked dishes for sale, too. Cronin said the business will soon produce its pasta in the market’s attached kitchen, visible from outside. The right kind of rigatoni could perhaps go with the selection at The Farm House Meats, a collection of fresh meat and eggs from Pembroke’s Shawn and Julie Hennigan. Everything from black angus beef and chicken kielbasa to breakfast sausages and eye round roast is sourced from New England farms. “Couldn’t be fresher,” Shawn Hennigan said.
A few stalls down, the focus turns to crafts. Artist Laurel Greenfield runs a studio and shop, selling joyous canvases painted with Red Sox caps, ice cream, and flowers — many of which adorn the marketplace walls. The Boston nonprofit Hope Unlimited operates a shop next door featuring items made by artisans and craftspersons with disabilities. People involved with Hope Unlimited will staff the store, as well as the American Stonecraft stall around the corner.
Come June, a bar will wrap around the center of the market, though plans for that are still coming together.
“We have plenty of important, cornerstone businesses in the market,” Cronin said. “But it’s always nice to have new faces.”
100 Hanover St., Boston; Open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bonapita gets a mechanical employee
West Roxbury Mediterranean restaurant Bonapita is the latest eatery to hop on the robot trend. In late April, owner and head chef Illan Barniv brought on Alfred, a white, arm-like robot that concocts salads alongside its human colleagues. Alfred is the brainchild of Boston automatic company Dexai Robotics.
Barniv said Alfred helps fill the gap from the enduring COVID labor shortage that has left businesses struggling to find workers. The robot also becomes faster at salad-making with time and “is an expert at preventing cross-contamination” for customers with dietary restrictions, he added.
Only one Alfred robot lives at Bonapita today, but Dexai has installed 10 models at US military bases across the country. Barniv plays a flat fee for each dish the robot makes, though he declined to share how much.
“With how it’s going, we have intentions to get more [robots] in the future,” Barniv said.
Robots are no stranger to the Boston-area restaurant scene. Rosie the Robot delivers brisket to tables at the Cambridge outpost of Smoke Shop BBQ, and “Kurabots” take the place of servers at Kura Sushi in Watertown. Salad giant Sweetgreen also acquired Spyce in 2021 in the hopes of adopting its technology of robot-prepared meals.
75 Spring St., West Roxbury; Open Monday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.