‘I’m going to go for it’: Summit County resident opens new storefront for Piper Gretchen Nails in Dillon
The business, run by Dillon resident Sarah Olson, recently opened an independent space off the town’s Main Street after operating in other stores for years
For Dillon Valley resident Sarah Olson, starting her own nail business may have been one of the most important decisions that kept her living in Summit County.
When Olson, a former nail technician for the luxury hotel Grand Lodge on Peak 7, began Piper Gretchen Nails in October 2020, she faced an uncertain housing decision and a raging pandemic. But Olson never doubted her success.
“This is something that I was like, ‘I’m going to go for it. I can’t lose,'” Olson said.
Now, less than three years later, Olson has opened her own space in downtown Dillon where she’s brought on staff members and even expanded her services to offer eyelash extensions and fills. The business officially opened May 2.
“If you asked me two-plus years ago, ‘Are you going to open your own space?’ I would have said no,” Olson said.
Piper Gretchen Nails is named after Olson’s cat, a photo of which hangs inside her new studio. The business had formerly been housed in commercial space for the Mountain Glo beauty salon. Olson initially rented a corner of the business’s Breckenridge office before moving into its Dillon building in July 2022.
During this time, Olson had been hunting for a storefront of her own, which she eventually found at 124 Main St., Suite 304, Dillon. A Dillon resident since 2014, Olson said having an independent setting for her work will allow her to become even more invested in her town.
“I love Dillon. I live here and love the community. It’s nice to be working and living in my community,” Olson said.
The business has been a grounding factor for Olson who, just a few years ago, said she’d been debating with her husband if Summit County would be a long-term fit for them.
The couple had been subleasing a two-bedroom apartment in the valley neighborhood that they said had been neglected. It had boiler issues that, one winter, led to a hot water outage for weeks. Not long after Olson launched her nail business, a move she called both financially motivated as well as an extension of her passion, the couple began seriously looking to buy their own home.
“By opening my own business and starting my own business, it really gave me the opportunity to think about what it would be like to buy a house,” Olson said.
After working to increase their financial standing, and with the assistance of a county-run housing subsidy program, the couple was able to purchase a remodeled home in the same neighborhood in 2022, the same year Piper Gretchen was named the winner for best nail salon in the Best of Summit magazine.
Best of Summit, published annually by Summit Daily News, polls readers on their favorite county-based businesses, from beauty care to restaurants.
For Talya McDougall, a longtime friend of Olson, those successes are indicative of the nail technicians’ tenacity and drive.
Olson “possesses the ability to be fully present with people, and I think that’s one of the first things I noticed about her that set her apart in business,” McDougall said.
McDougall first met Olson more than 10 years ago when both worked at the Grand Lodge as a massage therapist and nail technician, respectively. McDougall said that along with Olson’s “dynamic personality,” her attention to detail is unmatched.
“She’s got the hands of a surgeon. She’s got such great, detailed work,” McDougall said. “There’s nothing like that in Summit County.”
Olson said she strives to constantly learn and improve her skills, taking at least one or two nail art classes a month and following emerging trends and styles. She pushes for quality over quantity, only seeing up to four clients a day for two-hour sessions each.
“I don’t want to be a turn and burn. I want it to be very intentional,” Olson said. “I want it to really connect with the local population.”
Piper Gretchen Nails is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Olson will also be hosting an open house at the salon on June 5 at 5:30 p.m. More information on the business, including services, can be found at PiperGretchen.GlossGenius.com/about.
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