A former corporate professional, VikkiAnn Albanese imagined a tranquil lifestyle as the owner of a more natural nail salon in New Jersey. Though she opened the salon without a single client in a seasonal area during a rough economy, Albanese thrived, eventually relocating and expanding the salon.
Tranquilla Nail Spa has been in business for four years. Despite its first location in a seasonal area, the salon has experienced increases in business year after year.
Albanese was in a now-or-never state of mind when she thought of opening a nail salon after losing her job in the hospitality industry. While working in the corporate world, she earned her New Jersey manicurist license in order to have something to turn to if she was looking for a change. “I knew if I was going to open a luxury business in a poor economy I had to offer something different to the spa-goer,” Albanese says. “Tranquilla Nail Spa concentrates on the more natural and eco-conscious way to meet our clients’ nail and waxing needs. It was a challenge, but I had a vision that I wasn’t willing to stray from.”
Albanese had been thinking of opening a nail salon for a while and wanted it to be an odor-free nail spa because of her own allergies. The timing was ideal for her to start her own business. She imagined a more tranquil life and the thought of slowing down and being her own boss was appealing. She hasn’t stopped since. Tranquilla opened in 2009 in Spring Lake, N.J., and relocated in September 2013 to Red Bank, N.J.
VikkiAnn Albanese, owner of Tranquilla Nail Spa, moved to a new location from Spring Lake, N.J., in order to further develop and grow the business with a year-round client base. She is thankful for all the relationships she formed in the four years at the Spring Lake location.
“We opened our doors with not a single customer in a very seasonal area after the busy season,” Albanese says. Though Tranquilla experienced increases in business month after month, after two years Albanese realized the Jersey Shore location was too seasonal and she wanted an urban community where the concept of Tranquilla would fit perfectly year-round.
“One of my staff members found the location in Red Bank,” Albanese says. “It was perfect because it is located in the heart of downtown and Red Bank was voted one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America in 2012 by Smithsonian Magazine.” She believes the new location will allow Tranquilla to further grow and attract clients all year. Moving to a new location also afforded Tranquilla the opportunity to expand its retail section. Albanese encourages her employees to sell salon items by offering to try out the product on their clients.
The salon decor is gender neutral to make both male and female clients feel comfortable.
ALL ABOUT NAILS
Tranquilla educates its clients on the healthier, more sanitary ways to enjoy a manicure, pedicure, and waxing, according to Albanese. Clients appreciate the cleanliness of the spa and often comment on how well it is maintained. “The fact that we don’t reuse nail fi les, buffers, or pedicure scrubbers on anyone is extremely important,” Albanese explains. Tranquilla gives clients the option to take home the items, save them at the salon in a sanitary envelope for their next visit, or toss them out.
Approximately 70% of business is focused on nails and 30% on soy hair removal. The salon has three pedicure booths, four manicure stations, and a waxing area.
Nail services range from natural manicures and pedicures — including “gentlemen” and “lil’ princess” services — to Thai lemongrass services and enhancements using LCN products. The salon’s specialty services are its vegan manicures and pedicures using vegan nail lacquer. Manicures start at $18 and pedicures start at $35. Services run from 30 minutes to more than an hour.
Tranquilla’s most popular nail treatment is the Essential Manicure which includes nail shaping, cuticle care, infused warm towel, massage, and polish application. Enhancements for each service include the Callus Treatment, Hot/Cold Stone Massage, French polish, Soyaffi n Hand or Foot Therapy, and a Soothing Mask. Add-on prices range from $5 to $15. “Our pricing is very reasonable when comparing to a place similar to ours,” Albanese says. “We don’t have a lot of competition since our concept is unique.”
One of the salon’s most popular nail treatments is the Essential Manicure, which includes nail shaping, cuticle care, infused warm towel, massage, and polish application.
CONNECT WITH CLIENTS’ NEEDS
Tranquilla informs clients about the products, equipment, and cleaning process for each service. “We truly care about the clients’ nail and waxing needs and want them to feel comfortable in the spa,” Albanese says.
The decor is warm and tranquil with clean lines that add a touch of comfortable elegance to the salon. When decorating the salon, Albanese avoided making the salon too feminine to encourage both male and female clients to feel relaxed and content.
The clientele is a mix of men, women, teens, and “lil’ princesses.” A majority of the men come in for a manicure or pedicure, though Albanese says there are a few who have been waxed as well.
Tranquilla keeps in touch with its clients through social media and an e-mail list. Albanese uses Facebook to promote specials and discounts, as well to inform clients of the day’s hours and schedule openings. “I love social media and would love it if more of our clients would jump on board,” Albanese says. “Most are very hesitant to give their e-mail address because they all get bombarded daily with e-mails from other companies.” On average, clients will receive two to three e-mails per month from Tranquilla while the salon’s Facebook and Twitter posts are more frequent.
Classes are offered to nail techs for training on enhancements and the salon’s hair removal services.
“I still see clients personally,” she says. “I am a working owner.” Two of her favorite nail trends are magnetic polish and ombre designs. Albanese and her nail techs attend training classes to keep up with the latest trends and how to use new products. Additionally, Tranquilla has hosted on-site training classes on enhancements and hair removal products. “We all stay abreast of the latest trends and products by reading magazines, exploring the Internet, and attending local bridal shows,” Albanese says. Employees are paid commission, and all salon supplies are paid for by Albanese. She hopes to add more employees as her business continues to grow at its new location.
“In the future, I hope to become a consultant for those looking to open a nail salon,” Albanese says. “There’s so much detail involved and like any start of a business, it can be very overwhelming.”
Salon name: Tranquilla Nail Spa
Location: Red Bank, N.J.
Owner: VikkiAnn Albanese
Square Footage: 800
Opened: Spring Lake, N.J. — August 2009; Red Bank, N.J. — September 2013
Number of Nail Techs: 4 nail techs, 2 fi ll-ins when needed
Number of Employees: 5
Compensation Structure: Commission