Harry Connick Jr. pays surprise visit to Atlanta nail salon owner

Harry Connick Jr. performed at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in July 2013. He returns to Atlanta on Feb. 16 and will play indoors at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Photo Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Let’s call this one when Harry met Poochie.

Atlanta businesswoman, Tashina “Poochie” Green got the surprise of a lifetime, when musician Harry Connick, Jr. came strolling into her nail salon, Poochiez Paws Nail Studios, on Campbellton Road in Southwest Atlanta.

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Tashina “Poochie” Green got a big surprise from Harry Connick Jr.

“I really died,” said Green, 40. “He is so nice looking. I had to tell my husband ‘no disrespect.'”

It was June and Connick was in town during a tour appearance at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. He was also traveling with a camera crew to film segments for his new television show, Harry, which premiered Sept. 12 on NBC.

The show, which Connick says will be heavy on  music (all original and written by Connick) and virtually unscripted, is patterned after the Dean Martin Show which aired on NBC for almost a decade after its 1965 debut.

Connick devotes one segment of his show called “I Got This” to visiting random people around the country and taking over their jobs or lives while he treats them to a day of shopping and pampering.

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Poochiez Paws at 2905 Campbellton Road in Atlanta.

This brought him to Maxwell Crossing Plaza, a strip mall on Campbellton Road,  and right to the doorstep of Poochiez Paws.

It was business as usual for Green who has been doing nails since she was 14. The Savannah native, who overcame many challenges as a young girl, moved to Atlanta in 2001.

She worked at various barber shops and salons as a nail technician, learning the trade and treating every place she worked as if it were her own business.

“I tell everyone, I don’t care if you work at Burger King, McDonald’s or Target, always treat the business like it is your own,” said Green. “I knew one day I would be in that position and you treat people’s stuff like you want them to treat yours.”

Green began preparing for her own shop before it was even clear that she could make it a reality. She filled the front room of her apartment with supplies — tools, chairs, tables — everything she would need to open a business. She just didn’t have a location.

When she stumbled on Maxwell Crossing Plaza, she called the owner and told him she had enough for the deposit and first month’s rent. The owner agreed and even helped her with signage since she didn’t have enough money. He bought the sign and she paid him back, with interest, in her monthly rent.

In June, Green thought she had agreed to a quick profile of a local business owner, then in walked Connick looking all scruffy sexy and turning her shop upside down. Green went out shopping while Connick ran the nail salon and when she returned, in a new dress, he sent Green and her husband on a date night:

“It has been kind of an amazing experience,” said Green. “We have a lot of people trying to book appointments. I am trying to digest everything and just stay grounded and conduct my business the way I always have.”

For Green, that means remembering the importance of customer service. “When you are in business a lot of people don’t value other people’s time or their money. I know how I want to be treated as client or a customer,” she said. “I stay on that with my co-workers. We are human but it is something we work on daily.”

Green is particularly humbled that Connick chose her shop to visit. “You never know who is paying attention. A lot of times people think they need to have a business on a certain side of town so they can get a certain type of clientele,” she said. “I am on Campbellton Road but on the inside it is not Campbellton Road. It is different people with different personalities.”

Green said she hopes to squash stereotypes of the neighborhoods near Campbellton Road. “The first thing people say is this is a bad neighborhood. They want to move out, but you have to move in. That is the only thing that is going to make change,” she said.

Connick seemed right at home. “I think real recognize real,” said Green. “He is from New Orleans and I am from Savannah. He sounds just like me. I was so comfortable talking to him and not feeling I have to be a certain way.”

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A sample of Poochie’s handiwork.

When she did more research, she was impressed with his philanthropy such as the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village that Connick and Branford Marsalis helped develop in 2010 to house local musicians and others in the music industry.

Green reunited with Connick on the set of his new show and viewers learned that she has since developed a line of branded nail care products — polish, acrylic, brushes and more — which she will be able to show and promote at Cosmoprof, the beauty and cosmetics trade show in Las Vegas, courtesy of her appearance on Connick’s show.

“It will be good for me going to the next level with my business,” said Green. “I am always working. It is going to help me a lot.”

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