Under owner Misha Parham’s direction, My Sassy Nail Spa in Washington, D.C., has come to specialize in parties that include martinis, pole dancing, and tattoos.
Salon Name: My Sassy Nail Spa, Washington, D.C.
Owner: Misha Parham
Square Footage: 2,200; Opened: 2003
Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 9/10
Specialties: martini pedicure
If there’s one thing former BET marketing professional Misha Parham knows, it’s how to sell her salon. From distributing snazzy fliers to planning pamper parties to taking advantage of the popular buzz, Parham has managed to deter salon losses by focusing her attention on side services.
Parham is a self-described girly-girl who is into nails and makeup. She had a nail technician’s license, but it wasn’t until after she graduated from college (with a degree in marketing) and was financially stable that she could open up her own salon with a lounge in the back for private parties.
In addition to the main room and lounge, there are two private rooms for massage and waxing. The salon is decorated with cheetah print curtains and rugs, and the walls are painted a “spicy cayenne pepper.” The nail bar is set up so clients can watch TV as they get a service. Sassy’s services include natural nails, gels, acrylics, and Minx nails, all of which constitute 80% of the business. On the spa side, Sassy techs perform facials, massages, full body waxing, and body wraps.
Plan a Getaway
My Sassy Nail Spa is situated in the residential Takoma Park area of Washington D.C., near enough to the foot traffic of a metro stop that businesspeople passing by often stop in after work. To forget about a stressful day, Parham offers popular destination pedicures that promise a quick getaway. The client chooses her destination and the salon takes her there with a complimentary drink and matching foot scrub. A Pedi Redi green soak inspired her original apple martini pedicure, complete with sugar-rimmed glass. “When I first opened, that was the only pedicure I had,” says Parham. “Now, it has grown to be a whole drink menu.”
Destination pedicures include the classic Vegas with the green apple martini and matching foot bath, the Napa Valley Wine & Dine Pedi with a vanilla-plum scrub, and the Miami Mojito Pedi with a sugar scrub. All specials of course, come with their respective drinks, and Parham says they’re requested all day.
Drinks are complimentary, and she restricts each client to just one in order to comply with district laws on serving alcohol.
Late Nights in the Leopard Lounge
“We started doing pamper parties because groups of women would come in together for services,” says Parham. By renting out the back room, dubbed the “leopard lounge” for its decor, guests could then have a private area to bring in food and drinks while not disrupting the customers out front. Women come to celebrate everything from baby showers to bachelorette parties to birthdays.
The leopard lounge is booked every weekend for parties — bookings that have become more important as the economy slows down regular salon business. “People don’t have the money to do their regular routine, but once everyone comes together, they can celebrate that special day on that one night,” says Parham.
Pamper parties don’t end there. Also available in the leopard lounge are pole parties, where private instructors come in and teach women how to pole dance. (Parham had retractable poles installed in the room.) She is also one of the instructors and says it’s a popular girls’ night out event, especially since they are two doors down from a nightclub that party-goers can move to afterwards.
Parham also hosts a quarterly Ladies Night Out party that is open to the public. It includes not only Sassy’s signature martini pedicures and pole lessons, but also tattoos. She’s arranged a deal with a well-known local tattoo artist who sets up his equipment (he also brings his own liability waivers) in one of the smaller rooms and offers his service at a discount. She advertises in her own salon and the tattoo artist advertises on his end, doubling event exposure.
Advice from a Marketing Pro
Parham is a pro at getting the word out and keeping things exciting. She runs Sassy’s website, complete with plugs for events, including online reservations, payment for parties in advance, and instant e-gift cards.
She says, “Always keep it fresh and exciting. You can’t keep the same thing for a long time — you have to reinvent yourself.” She does this by changing up the pedicures and adding a “pedi of the month” to the menu.
In addition, Parham says it’s good to know when to join the bandwagon. “Whatever is going on, you can jump on it and make it your own, because the marketing is already there.” For instance, using the hype and popularity of the “Sex and the City” movie, she created a new pedicure, Sassy in the City, where instead of Carrie Bradshaw’s famous cosmo, she served a passion martini with matching grapefruit pedicure. “Knowing how to market has helped me a lot,” Parham says.