Although Lebanon, Ohio-based The Regency may have spa-like offerings, the salon goes out of its way to give clients a warm and cozy environment where pampering is the norm.
Salon Name: The Regency
Location: Lebanon, Ohio
Owner: Barbara Byrd Eve
Square Footage: 2,000
Years of Ownership: 4 ½
Techs/Employees: 4/9, 10 during the holidays
Specialties: Regency Pedicure, hand facial
Other Services: massage therapy, spa packages, tanning, facials, nail art
Compensation Structure: salaried employees. Eve occasionally offers incentive programs where employees receive gift certificates for free dinners, etc.
Notes: The salon features a deck in the backyard where clients can relax and mingle while they wait to get a service done.
NOT IN THE MIDDLE EAST, IN THE MIDWEST
Halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, lays the small, historic town of Lebanon. Although the city’s name might conjure up images of palm trees and the hot, dry climate of the Middle Eastern country with the same name, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The population is small — about 18,000 people call the city home—but the town gets plenty of visitors thanks to its myriad antique shops and what is claimed to be the oldest inn in Ohio. Lebanon is also where Barbara Byrd Eve grew up, and for these reasons and more, she decided to open her own salon in the area.
Eve was actually in the insurance business for 18 years and had been living outside of Lebanon for some time. While in that occupation, she booked an appointment for her first professional nail service. She was getting married and wanted to get a full set of acrylics for the big event. Eve found she enjoyed getting her nails done so much that she decided to go one step further and actually do nails.
After getting her license, she worked in a salon for a few years. But deep in her heart, she knew she wanted to have a place she could call her own, and that place would have to be in Lebanon. “I hadn’t lived there for a while, but I knew I wanted to go back at some point,” Eve says.
Besides, she had done her homework and discovered that no one in town was really focusing on nails. Most of the salons were fixated on hair. Finally, in June 1996, two months after she leased the building and after doing lots of research on finding the ideal locale — she says her insurance background helped when it came time to do some digging—Eve opened The Regency’s doors. At first, the salon only featured tanning services. Then, a few weeks later, nail services, the backbone of the salon, joined the offerings on The Regency’s menu.
HOW SHE GOT THAT HOMEY LOOK: Before The Regency came to be, the building actually housed apartments. As a child, Eve had seen the building and liked it, never knowing she’d one day occupy it. One day, she drove by the building and saw the “For Lease” sign out in the front and decided it’d be the perfect location for her venture. After the owner updated it with wiring, plumbing, and an improved roof, Eve took over, converting it into the comfortable, homey salon it now is.
And comfortable it is. One look at the salon’s two-story facade, and clients swear they’re entering someone’s home, not a place where they’re about to be pampered. Upon entering the salon, the first thing clients see is the dramatic staircase with a wooden handrail, which leads to the massage therapy area and tanning rooms. Farther down is the reception area and waiting area (there’s another one upstairs for clients who are waiting to get a tanning service or massage).
When Eve went about choosing the salon’s decor, she decided to keep the look in tune with the town’s reputation as a haven for antiques. Not only that, she also knew just what color combination she’d use. “When I first saw the building, I just knew that burgundy and navy would be the perfect colors,” she says. Those warm colors are prominently featured on everything from the window curtains and the carpeting to the couches and the wooden manicure tables that Eve stained herself.
The color scheme, along with the decor, helps give the salon a comfortable, lived-in feel. Special touches like a wood-trimmed mirror above a small table featuring a floral arrangement, a plush wooden bench with an inviting red pillow next to the staircase, and cozy couches and chairs in the waiting area give the salon added warmth. “I want clients to feel comfortable and pampered. I didn’t want anything stiff or stuffy,” Eve says about her salon’s look.
And while some of the furniture is more 20th century than turn of the century, there are some pieces that are genuine antiques, such as the plant-filled, claw foot bathtubs in the bathrooms and the shoe collection that graces the pedicure room. The collection, featuring unique and antique ceramic and decorative shoes, is prominently featured in the room’s windowsill.
Adding to the homey atmosphere is something clients won’t find in many salons: a deck. The backyard boasts a wooden deck that Eve uses as a waiting area complete with bistro tables for clients to lounge around.
BRINGING THEM BACK FOR MORE:
In the last two years, two discount nail salons have opened in the area, but Eve isn’t worried. Her business keeps her so busy that she not only oversees the business, she also works as a nail tech about 45 hours a week, offering clients everything from natural manicures to light- cured gels and acrylics. “My manager helps me out a lot,” she admits.
Not only that, her next-door neighbor, a podiatrist, also helps out. “I refer clients to his office, and he refers his clients to the salon,” Eve says.
Eve says she’s not really worried about having clients taken away from her because the salon goes out of its way to pamper them. Besides the usual nail services, Eve also features spa packages such as the Evening Escape, which includes a pedicure, manicure, full-body massage, and a light meal.
And since day one, she has made it a point to retail products. She makes sure that clients are aware of the products by prominently displaying them on wooden shelves, tables, and above the fireplace in the waiting area. “Retail is not as lucrative as I’d like it to be, but it’s steady,” Eve says about the various tanning and nail products she sells. She tries to make her retail area more enticing by offering products that clients cannot pick up at a drugstore or a beauty supply store, and by selling gift baskets. And while she would like her retail to increase, sales in that segment account for about 20% of her salon’s profits, which is more than most nail salons.
Now that The Regency is fast approaching its fifth anniversary, the year most businesses either make it or break it, Eve sees no end in sight. “We’ll make it,” she says without a doubt in her mind.