With the philosophy that nature is the basis for aromatherapy, this nail studio incorporates reflexology and herbology into its services for some fundamental natural nail care.
Salon Name: RAJ Nail Studio
Owner: Bridget Jones
Square Footage: 700
Years of Ownership: 5
Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 2
Specialties: Paraffin, sports and aromatherapy pedicures
Notes: Clients can book a reflexology session or herbology consultation
Owner Bridget Jones started RAJ Nail Studio five years ago with natural nail care in mind as the focus of her services.
The Spa Pedicure is RAJ’s most popular service. Incorporated into the treatment are essential oils and sea salt, finished off with a shea butter rub.
“We plan to be on the forefront when more attention and respectability come into being with reflexology and herbs.”
CHARMING IN CINCINNATI: To expand on her belief that relaxation and nail care go hand in hand, it seemed only fitting that RAJ (pronounced “rage”) Nail Studio owner Bridget Jones fulfill her dream of opening a salon in a cozy and peaceful environment.
The Cincinnati locale is what draws the large clientele that owner Jones boasts about. In the middle of a quiet, serene residential neighborhood lies the comfortable 1900 Tudor-style home that Jones transformed into one of the premiere nail salons in the city.
“The house has its own unique atmosphere and it takes you away from the hectic city pace and transports you to a peaceful place within,” Jones says.
The name for Jones’ salon was born from her husband Ronal Antonio Jones’ initials and is also an acronym for Radiate Abundant Joy. RAJ was established with the desire to be on the cutting edge in promoting healthy, well-groomed nails in an atmosphere of relaxation and well-being.
“Choosing a location was easy because I knew what concept I had in mind – relaxation,” Jones says. “When my husband and I found an old Victorian home with its big picture windows, hardwood floors, and spacious room, we knew this was the perfect place.”
A lack of competition is an apparent benefit to being located in a residential neighborhood, Jones says.
“Since we are located on a residential street, there are no other businesses surrounding us, but within a two- to three-block radius, we have a variety of full-service salons as well as discount salons,” Jones says. “I’ve checked out the other salons, but I think of RAJ as having services that other area salons don’t offer.”
After spending six months renovating the bottom floor of the house with her husband, Jones opened her salon in 1995 and has built a steady clientele since, including many professionals in the area.
“The fascinating thing about RAJ is that we attract a variety of people ranging from Generation Xers to men and seniors, but the majority of our clients tend to be professional women,” Jones says. “Lots of them are teachers and business owners themselves. I do a lot of hairstylists since I’m open on Mondays.”
The husband and wife team hired contractors to help them with the renovation, but also did a lot of the work themselves. They converted a back room, which housed an old bathtub, into a boutique-style atmosphere by building a cabinet around the bathtub and placing fixtures such as perfume, cologne, and candles around it.
Jones chose to paint her salon in warm and inviting colors, opting for almond, beige, rust, deep green, and rich brown tones.
“The décor encourages all who enter to feel welcome,” Jones says.
Adding to the comfortable atmosphere are the high-back black leather executive-style chairs that are housed at each of the two nail stations. The reception area also has a chaise lounge fashioned after the Victorian period so her clients can lie back and relax when needed.
Always in the background is a soft and soothing music and the sound of cascading water from the salon’s water fountain to help relieve stress.
Starting Out: Jones began her career as a nail tech 10 years ago after a friend talked her into attending cosmetology school. When she began working in a salon, she started to focus on natural nail care.
“Once I began, I realized that my vision of salon services was very different from the salon I was working at, so the decision to open RAJ was born,” Jones explains.
After reading a staggering statistic in NAILS, which said a majority of women would prefer to grow their natural nails, Jones knew her instincts were right.
“I told a coworker about the article and that that’s what I wanted to focus on and she told me, ‘You’ll never make it in this business,” Jones says.
Not only has Joes become a successful salon owner, she’s also a successful manager - an aspect, she says, that isn’t as easy as it looks.
“The biggest challenge to managing a salon is wearing so many hats,” Jones says. “Sometimes it’s frustrating when you’re doing hands-on work 10-12 hours a day and then you still have to handle the administrative tasks. But it feels so awesome when none of your clients realize you’ve had a hectic day because you’ve handled the challenges in such a positive and professional manner.”
As the owner and sole nail tech of the salon, Jones so busy she has to turn away clients.
“I had the best nail tech in here working with me and when she moved away, it dawned on me to focus more on building the retail area and doing some more foundational work before bringing someone else on board,” Jones says.
Not being able to take on new clients has made Jones realize the need for expansion, and that’s why she plans on relocating and expanding her salon.
“We are looking for approximately 3,000 square feet and want to incorporate more retail space and upgrade our service menu,” Jones says.
Jones plans on taking advantage of Cincinnati’s downtown revitalization efforts by moving her salon into a more high-profile location.
“Our downtown area is on the move right now,” Jones says. “I’d like to maintain a diverse client base and I’d also like to pick up some additional clients who would be more willing to get services done from a holistic approach.”
Natural Healing: Foreseeing the next big trend in the nail industry as being a holistic approach to nail care, Jones has already mapped out a plan to incorporate a therapy center into her next nail studio.
“We plan to be in the forefront when more attention and respectability come into being with reflexology and herbs,” Jones says.
Already incorporated into the services she offers are reflexology sessions and herbology consultations.
“Reflexology and herbology are three-plane modalities that encourage you to reflect on your spiritual, mental, and physical sides,” Jones explains.
These services encourage clients to focus on relaxation and stress reduction and become more aware of their health, Jones says.
“Lots of times people come in and have really bad problems with dry skin and cuticles and they’ve tried the typical nail treatments and they want to know how they can treat the problems and get more energy,” Jones says.
Jones does a body work-up on the client, which tells her specifically which area that person needs treatment on.
“I tell them how the body needs to stay in balance and how sometimes our lifestyle makes our body get out of balance and that can deprive you of certain nutrients internally, which affects your external beauty,” Jones explains.
Then, she’ll “prescribe” certain products for the area that needs to be worked on. Often, she’ll refer the client to a herbalist.
“I would like to eventually carry the herbs myself,” Jones says. “We already offer herbal tea and things of that nature, but I’d like to expand on that and carry information that they can read and take with them.”
Since the salon’s inception, Jones’ focus has been on proper sanitation, with major emphasis on maintaining healthy skin and nails by implementing an astute knowledge of natural nail techniques, wholesome products such as milk and honey soaks, essential oils, and exfoliating sea salts that are salon’s own mixtures.
RAJ carries exclusive, private label all-natural soaps and bath seltzer, which are made without animal testing. These products contain major moisturizing and healing agents such as shea nut butter and aloe vera.
Jones also carries a product called Match-It, a tiny vial inside a matchbox. The vial holds a small amount of polish, a tiny file, and a cuticle pusher,
“It’s great for travelling or if you don’t want to buy a whole bottle of polish, and you can pick the polish of your choice to have poured into the vial,” Jones explains.
Besides its own creations, the salon also carries professional brands.
Jones incorporates all of these products into the salon’s unique and diverse services. RAJ’s Spa Pedicure is the salon’s most popular treatment. Jones uses her unique blend of oils, sand scrubs, and sea salt, which naturally exfoliate and heal problem skin while rehydrating it. The pedicure ends with a shea butter massage, which is a combination of massage and reflexology relaxation methods.
Although RAJ’s focus is on natural products and nail services, Jones also offers nail enhancements such as fiberglass and acrylic. She also works with a noted podiatrist in her community who keeps her informed of what to look for when dealing with foot disorders and diseases.
Helping Hands: Community involvement is just one of the ways Jones is able to keep her salon’s name circulating.
“Our clients have always come to us primarily through word of mouth,” Jones says. “However, we have attracted clients through our participation in events.”
RAJ participated in Essence’s Essence By Mail Catalog Fashion Extravanganza after Jones was asked to manicure the models’ nails.
Her husband handles the promotional and marketing materials and events, as well as public relations.
The salon also hosts events such as candlelit jazz nights and poetry readings. RAJ has also been featured in the local newspapers for its different and unique atmosphere and devotion to natural nail care.
Jones says she believes her continued success will come from her commitment to customer service and firm belief in health care.
“We continue to strive toward excellence and respectability in an often-criticized market , making a statement that nail care is a healthy and thriving industry,” she says.