Business Management

A New Spa in Town

Forging new ground in Chicago, the owner of Nail Fetish Inc. is learning, looking, and listening for the best ways to make a great spa and clients are singing her praises.

Open for just about a year, Nail Fetish Inc. has become a favorite in the Chicago area. With many residents stressed and in need of relief, this eclectic local spa has become a quirky favorite. What started out as a simple empty storefront has become a new attraction for people with nails in need, all over the city.

Nail Fetish opened its doors in July 2007 in the Chicago neighborhood of West Town, near the north side community of Buck Town. Savage says Nail Fetish is the perfect fit for many reasons. “Unlike many north side spas, there is plenty of parking and easily accessible by two main public transportation lines,” she says. “The competition is not a big problem because the West Town area desperately needed this facility.”

Nail Fetish clientele consists mainly of young, urban professionals, a bourgeoning demographic in the area. “We have the perfect combination of laid back individuals who come to let down their hair,” says Savage. “We have a nice following in West Town.” For now, Nail Fetish seems to be the only one in the nail industry in on the secret. Savage says, “It’s a great hidden gem and we have the opportunity to be the first to serve the people here.”

Creating Comfort Aside from its waxing and nail services, Nail Fetish is home to a variety of attractions. Although the spa doesn’t have a specific theme, Savage describes the decor as soothing and stimulating all at once: “The spa’s theme is calm yet upbeat with many soothing colors such as celery green and mauve with a surprising hint of popping purples.” Adaptation, she says, is the key to her clients’ comfort. “We like to take in the mood of our clients and incorporate that into each particular day.”

Music also plays a big role in the Nail Fetish experience, but the client isn’t exactly a passive listener. “We do play soothing music like jazz, but sometimes it’s upbeat Latin music. Some days we even do karaoke!” says Savage.

But as the name of the spa might suggest, people don’t come for the music, they come for the services. When asked how much of her business is focused on nails, Savage replies succinctly: “Ninety percent.” With a name like Nail Fetish Inc., is it really any wonder? Their manicures range from a modest $20 to $35, and their pedicures are $35 to $40.

Sending Them Home Happy Leading the way in the nail services category at the salon is the locally famous “Shea on Me” pedicure with shea butter, and it includes a milk and oatmeal massage. Shea butter is extracted from the fruit of the shea tree and is widely used in the beauty industry as an emollient, treating everything from scars to chapped lips. The skin is covered in their 100% shea butter, and paraffin is used to lock in moisture. “It’s truly indulgent,” says Savage.

Savage’s clients especially appreciate the little things the salon does to send them home smiling. “We make many of our own products and we even make a batch for a client if she wants to try it at home,” she says. “We also make specialty teas with fresh fruit in the summer and hot elixirs in the colder months.”

The clientele appreciates the practical as much as the perks. “Everyone comments on our cleanliness and also the stainless steel jet-free tubs we use,” says Savage. “I think clients also love that fact that we always try to run some type of special to fit everyone’s budget.”

Taking Care of Techs From a spa owner’s perspective, Savage says the most difficult part of running her business is finding good people to work with. “Finding career-oriented employees who want to see the big picture,” she says, “is the biggest challenge of managing the spa.”

When she does find good technicians, she aims to keep them. “When it comes to my employees, I listen, I care, and I empathize. I explain why I do things the way I do. I make sure technicians are comfortable and are constantly seeing growth in their own careers.” In addition, the spa offers its technicians paid vacation time, flexible scheduling, continuing education opportunities, and bonuses for different contests and upgrades. Not only does Savage want enthusiastic employees, she wants well-trained employees. “We offer an initial in-house training to make sure we are all consistent in the services we offer. We constantly offer training materials to technicians and make them aware of different shows, opportunities, and trends.”

Savage herself stays current by “reading, networking with other beauty professionals, and even asking clients what they think is new and hot.”

In the end, Savage has worked hard to create a place for her clients to relax and feel at home. Asked how she knew she had succeeded, Savage said, “Many of our clients stay after their service, pull the dividing curtain for privacy, and take a nap. This lets me know they feel at ease, and that is truly rewarding for us.”

KEYWORDS: salon profile, business, modern nail salon, case study, signature services

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