The success of Barbados-based Summa Nails is evidence of owner Christine Hinds’ many years of experience as a nail tech and constant dedication to education.
Even with so much competition on the tiny island of Barbados, Christine Hinds knows how to set herself apart in the capital city of Bridgetown. Staying educated on the newest training and trends keeps her clients happy and the 14-year-old salon busier than ever.
Hinds worked as a nail tech part time for many years, so she was aware of the lack of interest in professional training and education that kept countless salons on the island from growing. Many salon owners and nail techs did not see education as an investment, Hinds says, and that was where she decided she would differ.
The opportunity to become a full-fledged salon owner arose when she lost her job as a credit clerk. “I was afraid and thought it would be too hard to own a salon, but my husband encouraged me,” Hinds says.
Taking a Chance
After working in various salons for a number of years and taking new courses as often as possible, Hinds was ready to open her own salon. “I felt I was growing, but I also felt I needed a building of my own.” Hinds’ husband got to work creating and designing Summa Nails (which she named after her daughter) adjoining their home.
The summer- (and Summa-) inspired decor includes tropical sea greens and bright, punchy oranges to mimic the playful moods of the season. Aged woods were added for texture. “The salon is a bit of an antique but it has a modern look to it,” Hinds says.
The salon has a separate entrance from the house entrance and three areas for nail services, pedicures/paraffin, and facials/massage/waxing. The main area has two tables for performing all of the manicure and acrylic services, as well as a three-seat sofa in the waiting area.
Popular services include the Milk & Honey Manicure and Spa Manicure, as well as other mid-level services that feature colored acrylics and OPI or CND polishes. Special treatments, which may include homemade ingredients, range from $25 to $30 USD.
The stiletto nail is Hinds’ specialty, but price and the time required to create the style are most likely the main reasons why it is not requested more often, she says. “It takes about two hours for one color and three to four hours if you want a special design.” Even with a price tag that’s usually upwards of $100, those who do request the style love it and the compliments that normally follow.
The salon’s location near one of the busiest shopping centers in the city definitely helps keep business busy. Hinds avoids pre-booking salon clients a year at a time to allow for missed appointments and cancellations to be easily replaced. As a result, most clients typically book their appointments six or so weeks in advance.
Owner Christine Hinds (left) and nail tech Tayla Grimes are happy to still be working together after three years.
Working With the Best
Over the last three years, Hinds’ relationship with her sole employee, nail tech Tayla Grimes, has grown to one of mutual respect. She describes Grimes as the greatest person she has ever worked with. “I think the most important thing is that we can talk about potential conflict so that it doesn’t affect the job itself,” Hinds says.
Being flexible also helps, as Hinds often encourages Grimes to take time off to spend with her child. As a result, she is much happier at work and feels like Summa Nails is her own. “She runs it as such when I’m not there,” Hinds says.
Most of their clientele are either businesswomen or housewives ranging in age from 30 to 70 years old. Many are return clients, some of whom have been coming to Summa Nails since it opened. The majority of clients are referred by word of mouth but nowadays the salon also gets a great deal of inquiries through Facebook.
“Business is great! I can’t complain,” Hinds gushes. Nail services account for 80% of the revenue at Summa Nails. Even though retail doesn’t play a very big role in profits, continuing to take training courses and sharing the knowledge with clients certainly pays off. “It’s not just about being a nail tech, it’s giving them information about taking care of their nails and the products that I’m using,” Hinds says.
Learning and Growing
Attending trade shows and entering national and international nail competitions has also increased Hinds’ knowledge and helped her network with other salon professionals.
Currently, Hinds is working to bring renowned American nail technicians to offer training in Barbados with the hopes of inspiring professionals from other countries to visit as well. As the business continues to grow, she hopes to open another branch of Summa Nails, as well as a special nail salon targeting teenagers.
Despite all of her ambition and plans for the future, one of the biggest challenges Hinds must handle first is finding loyal nail techs with the right qualifications. “Even if you do get someone to come and work for you, the majority of the time they will say they want to leave and work on their own,” Hinds says. Finding another employee like Grimes might be hard, but Hinds says she is excited about the future of Summa Nails and continuing to compete internationally.
Salon Name: Summa Nails
Location: Bridgetown, Barbados
Owner: Christine Hinds
Square Footage: 640 sq. ft.
Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 2/2
Specialties: Stiletto nails