Married couple Karina Restrepo and Justin Mitchell founded MI CUMBIA Organica with safe, healthy nail care and environmental sustainability in mind. They designed the spa to be an urban sanctuary where personal attention and purity are paramount. Karina and Justin are the pioneers of an organic alternative to the toxic conventional nail salon experience, which delivers chemicals to our bodies through our nails and our lungs. They put an immense amount of research into MI CUMBIA’s services and practices, which are unprecedented in the nail industry, and insist in the purest of air quality at MI CUMBIA, in consideration of all customers. Karina and Justin aim to inform and educate the public about organic nail care and the dangers that have been long overlooked in the nail industry.

PIONEERS OF ORGANIC NAIL CARE

Karina Restrepo: Karina’s a native of Colombia, is an accomplished nail technician who perfected the beauty techniques of her homeland using natural materials like salt water, coconut and clay. She along with Justin Mitchell developed MI CUMBIA Organica’s groundbreaking application technique for water-based polishes using a certified organic base coat and certified organic nail conditioner. Prior to opening MI CUMBIA, Karina received awards for Best Manicure/Pedicure in Rittenhouse Square (2005, Philadelphia Style) and runner-up Best Manicure/Pedicure in Rittenhouse Square (2006, Philadelphia Style). Karina is an accomplished nail technician from Colombia, exposed to the traditions of Colombia’s tribal Wayu. While on her native soil Karina practiced  techniques of creating exfoliates by mixing sand with coconut found on the beach. She came to the United States after studing Engineering from the University of EAFIT. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2003 she worked at Rescue located in Rittenhouse Square were she was awarded  “Best Manicure / Pedicure” and best of in “Philly Style” “Best of Philly Style Magazine, (2005)” and while at MI CUMBIA she has established a long list of awards.


Justin Mitchell: MI CUMBIA’s business coordinator, envisioned MI CUMBIA Colombiana to be the leader in a new era for the nail industry.  His background in design strongly influenced his unique approach to MI CUMBIA’s aesthetic, its mission and its services. He designed the spa to make a minimal impact on the environment, using VOC-free, recycled and renewably-sourced materials including American Clay walls and Kirei work surfaces. He continues to direct the spa’s mission to educate and give back to the community and the environment with each of its services. Justin has a Master’s Degree in Interior Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from University of the Arts.


This Land is “My Land,” National Business Profile!  Nails Magazine!

MEDIA REVIEW

Justin Mitchell and Karina Restrepo are working to revolutionize the nail industry. The owners of Philadelphia’s MI CUMBIA Organica “the nation’s first truly organic nail spa.” Built from recycled and sustainable materials, their salon uses water-based polishes with a unique, patented application technique that Mitchell says lasts longer than water-based polishes ever have before.

From Idea to Inception

Architect and designer Mitchell and his fiancée, nail technician Restrepo, wanted to open a salon that was fully organic, all the way from construction to the services offered. They also wanted to create a unique space.

“We realized we needed to create something that was more quasi-exotic,” says Mitchell. Restrepo, an accomplished nail technician with editorial manicure and pedicure awards under her belt, brought to the salon the beauty techniques of her native Colombia, using natural ingredients like saltwater, coconut, and clay.

The couple found an available location on the first floor of their building, in the affluent residential area around Rittenhouse Square. Getting permits to open in a residential area took eight months, and working weekends and nights, Mitchell and Restrepo began construction of the entire space.

“Walking down the street, you would never really find us,” says Mitchell of their residential location. “Anybody who knows about us is part of an inside community who has been referred or read about us somewhere.” Mitchell worked on creating a buzz about the salon by sending out press releases, meeting PR professionals, and contacting local magazines.

Wanting to create a “community hub,” Mitchell and Restrepo then worked on referrals and retention instead of walk-in business.

The Perspective of a Designer

“I wanted to get away from the idea of mass production and move toward something that was more of an escape or retreat,” Mitchell says of the salon design. Following the organic concept with sustainable construction, he chose American Clay natural plaster for walls and used zero-toxic paints. Flooring is made from post-consumer wood waste, and Kirei Board, an environmentally friendly substitute for wood made of reclaimed natural fibers, was used for surfacing materials.

In order to promote the intimacy of each service, they’ve kept the salon small. From the entrance, a narrow hallway opens up into the main room, which holds three manicure tables. A middle room houses two pedicure chairs, and a third room in the back is reserved for massage sessions and soy-based hair removal.

In terms of color, Mitchell chose a palette of soothing earth tones. “Each room has on average four different colors that are very subtly different,” he says. “You don’t notice at first, but it creates a certain complexity of space.”

Continual Evolution

Alongside a wall lined with water-based polishes are a selection of Restrepo’s own bottles of custom polish. “She only makes a few bottles of each one,” says Mitchell. “As soon as that one runs out, clients don’t know if she’ll make a new color that’s similar or not.” The constant change of colors keeps things exciting.

Intent on using water-based polish, Mitchell and Restrepo worked together on an application process that would result in longer-lasting manicures and pedicures. “We patented the process of our application for water-based nail polishes,” says Mitchell, who adds that this proprietary polish application method will last up to six weeks for pedicures and, on average, 10 days for manicures.

In addition, the MI CUMBIA service menu is on a constant rotation with the seasons, with services ready to be phased out and new ones added in. According to Mitchell, this creates an entirely new experience for clients who routinely come in for the same services. To connect the salon further with Restrepo’s Colombian-influenced beauty techniques, many services have Spanish names. The most popular service is the Magdalena, named after the principal river of Colombia.

NAILS MAGAZINE 2009

MEDIA REVIEW
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CRAFT CHOCOLATES “SOUTH AMERICAN”
COFFEE: SOUTH AMERICAN
DRIED PINEAPPLE: COLOMBIAN
ORGANIC NAIL TREATMENTS: COLOMBIAN
HAIR REMOVAL: BRAZILIAN
FOOT MASSAGE: RIOHACHA, COLOMBIAN

MI CUMBIA Organica is creating a model for future nail salons by employing practices that support and protect the health of women, rather than contribute to the acceptance and use of toxic chemicals.

ORGANIC BY CHOICE - NOT FOR MARKETING

MI CUMBIA REMAINS HONEST

Philadelphia’s MI CUMBIA Organica reinvents the nail salon experience with the highest standards for pure, organic nail treatments in the nation. Located on a quiet street near beautiful Rittenhouse Square, MI CUMBIA is an organic oasis in what has traditionally been one of the most dangerously toxic sectors of the beauty industry. From their use of water-based and non-toxic nail polishes to their fresh, nature-inspired treatments, MI CUMBIA owners Karina Restrepo and Justin Mitchell have made a commitment to safe, organic beauty that sets a new precedent for nail spas around the nation.


Entering MI CUMBIA Colombiana, you’ll notice that the calming scents of essential oils replace the harsh polish fumes that saturate conventional nail salons. This air quality is possible with the spa’s unique, non-toxic only policy for nail polish. The intimate spa space is also sourced from VOC-free, recycled and sustainable materials from floor to ceiling.


MI CUMBIA has received several awards for it‘s accomplishments and ground breaking innovations in the industry.  These award-winning hand and foot treatments were inspired by Karina’s Colombian heritage and expert knowledge of natural beauty sources. MI CUMBIA’s patented polish application technique adds unrivaled durability to water-based polishes, extending the life of these non-toxic formulas. The spa also offers men’s treatments, as well as reflexology and soy-based, wax-free hair removal.


MI CUMBIA Organica all rights reserved 2007

CRAFT CHOCOLATES “SOUTH AMERICAN”
COFFEE: SOUTH AMERICAN
DRIED PINEAPPLE: COLOMBIAN
ORGANIC NAIL TREATMENTS: COLOMBIAN
HAIR REMOVAL: BRAZILIAN
FOOT MASSAGE: RIOHACHA, COLOMBIAN
CRAFT CHOCOLATES “SOUTH AMERICAN”
COFFEE: SOUTH AMERICAN
DRIED PINEAPPLE: COLOMBIAN
ORGANIC NAIL TREATMENTS: COLOMBIAN
HAIR REMOVAL: BRAZILIAN
FOOT MASSAGE: RIOHACHA, COLOMBIAN