Oh, Canada! I was in beautiful Toronto for four days visiting salons and attending the Canadian Hairdresser magazine show. I learned that our salon neighbors to the north share a lot of the same joys and frustrations in their work as you do. Although still not as prominent, discount salons are redefining the nail industry there as well. One upscale salon owner admitted that the “discount” service she had experienced as a client was probably superior to her own salon’s offering. However, despite the influx, salons still seem to be demanding high prices for their services (even at an exchange rate favorable to Americans, the prices were higher than U.S. averages).
Kim Tanner, Star Nail Products’ Ontario distributor, was a most gracious host my first day in the city. She took me to the city of Streetsville to meet the team at Hot Tips. The city may be quaint, but the salon is the model of professionalism, with techs in starched white lab coats. Salon owner Lucy Eki told me about a recent client education program, showing clients how to repair their own nails until they can get into the shop.
Tanner talks excitedly and passionately about professional education and industry news. “We’re hungry for anything and everything,” she says. Her practical approach has a huge payoff: At the show, where she and her team were doing live demos, the audience was three deep trying to see a gel nail application.
I’ve known my other host, Debbie Krakalovich, since she and her husband Gary won the first Salon of the Year Award in 1996 and I was delighted to finally see the famous Nail Shoppes in person. The couple has three locations in the major Toronto area, all high end. Her staff is a friendly, highly professional bunch from all over the world. Carla Furlong, who did a dream-like pedicure for me, came to Canada from South Africa just two years ago, and Marcia-Ann Callender, who put on my first set of acrylics in three years, is from Trinidad and Tobago and hasn’t been in North America long enough for her beautiful accent to soften in the slightest.