We Wanna Be Friends With: Ali Wiezbowski of TopCoat
Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.
A quick scroll through Pinterest and you'll see that nail art is back, big time. But the artists who do it professionally? Much harder to find, which is exactly why Ali Wiezbowski built the site and app TopCoat.me. Originally envisioned (as Lucky Mag put it) as "Tinder for nail art," the technology was created to bring together manicurists with serious artistic ability and the people who are dying to get their nails Instagram-worthy.
Launched in both NYC and SF, the first iteration of the company allowed manicurists to meet up with clients anywhere (their salon, someone's home, etc.). Although it got rave reviews, Ali heard from her users that they would also love a traditional salon to get their nails done, and the newly-opened TopCoat Studio at the Crocker Galleria was born. Although you can still contract nail artists via the app like before, now you can also visit their lovely brick-and-mortar shop, which stocks premium polish (like Formula X from Sephora, Butter London and Floss Gloss), and offers a range of nail designs starting at $25.
We love how Ali has upped to anti for all other salons, bringing modern technology to an industry that's been the same for decades. Along with looking at tons of designs and their corresponding prices online, you can book an appointment with a particular stylist to meet at the studio or wherever else you choose, or just walk in for a mani during lunch. Each nail station is also equipped with a phone charger (genius), and you can feel free to pop in for a touch up if you need it - it's included in every mani.
Big thanks to local innovator Ali for taking a minute from her roll as CEO and founder to answer our We Wanna Be Friends With Q&A!
1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?
Hayes Valley, though I grew up all over the Bay Area - Half Moon Bay, the Peninsula, and then the city. I started spending time in Hayes Valley when I was 16 - it’s been my favorite neighborhood in my favorite city since then.
2. What's your hands-down, absolute favorite thing to eat in SF?
Marina Sub, small turkey, add avocado, with special sauce, no mayo, no pepperoncini. Q (the avocado master) has been sharing sub sandwich magic with my family, my friends, and my friends’ family since we were in high school. It may not be the healthiest but its the food I crave the most in San Francisco. Little Star’s Little Star Pizza with sausage is a close second.
3. What's your perfect night on the town?
The perfect night for me starts and ends in the three neighborhoods that we are surrounded by, walking from place to place. When friends come into town we like to take them on a walk down Hayes, stop at the Biergarten, head over to Divisadero/Lower Haight/Hayes for dinner, and finish the night drinking wine back at our place.
4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time?
Every Sunday I read through 7x7, SF Magazine, FuncheapSF, the Bold Italic, and UpOut to find out what’s going on in the city the following week. My favorite low-key afternoons are exploring new neighborhoods, small businesses and street fairs. We went to at least two every weekend during the summer. And if Karl or other weather prohibits, you can find us at Archimedes Banya in Hunter’s Point.
5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?
Until I was 10 years old, I grew up in Montara, which is actually about 8 miles north of Half Moon Bay. My dad and I used to go to the tide pools together to collect shells and feed sea snails to the anemones. My favorite day trip outside the city takes me back to that part of the Bay Area, driving down Highway 1 to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve tide pools, then continuing south toward Princeton Harbor for fish and chips. The smell of eucalyptus during the drive and the cold whip of Northern CA wind on the beach takes me right back to early days of my childhood.
6. Quick-fire round:
Burrito or Burger?
Presidio or Golden Gate Park?
BiRite or Mitchell's?
Bike or MUNI?
Fort Mason or Dolores Park?
The Independent or the Fillmore?
Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?
7. Three words that describe your life in SF?
Inspiring, creative, adventures.
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