Q&A

Reader to Reader: What solutions do you have for handling extremely obese clients respectfully?

Q.

What solutions do you have for handling extremely obese clients respectfully (for instance, making sure they are comfortable in your salon’s chairs)?

A.

I’ve always told owners of a salon that we have to be conscious of all types of clients. Since I am a plus-size woman myself, I know how uncomfortable it is to not be comfortable in the chair. I recommend purchasing chairs with no armrests, as armrests are restrictive. I’ve also known salons that use couches for their waiting areas.
Angie Roman
Chicago

We use Steelcase chairs. They can consistently support a very high weight, and it’s never been an issue. Realistically someone who is that heavy knows it, and they are not going to take a chance sitting in a chair that doesn’t look sturdy if they don’t have to. I’ve also heard techs complain about them being harder to work on because of the weight of their legs, but I’ve found that how much strain a person’s leg puts on me actually has very little to do with the client’s weight or size. I’ve had thin women who feel like they are full of lead, and heavy women who do not pose an issue at all.
Christel Arant
Julep Nail Parlor, Seattle

Having lost 110 lbs. so far I am fully aware of the difficulties trying to be comfortable in public. Forget plastic patio-type chairs — try to find armless wide seats. I was constantly afraid of a chair collapsing and thanked the heavens if I went somewhere that had taken all sizes into consideration. I’m still large, and I know I’m large, but it’s nice to be able to relax. Think about your clients’ comfort because I would not have gone back if I had not been comfortable.
Charline McKitrick
Cha-nail Studio and Allain Aquaculture Inc., Richibucto Parish, New Brunswick, Canada

I have a client that was worried about that for my nail room. She actually brought in her own folding chair that she felt comfortable with and leaves it at the salon.
Chris Esselink
Oasis Hair and Nail Studio, Grand Forks,
British Columbia, Canada

I bought very sturdy chairs before opening several years ago, with this exact thing in mind. I believe you need to take all clientele into consideration. Elderly, children, and handicapped are always welcome in my salon, comfortably.
Pamela Sue Platt
Nailz by Pam, Payette, Ohio

I recently had a client that does not fit in the pedicure throne chairs. I used a couch that is on casters and a portable Footsiebath, so it’s much more comfortable for her. As a plus-sized woman myself, sometimes it’s hard to feel like I need to hold my leg up during the pedicure scrub so I make sure to say, “Relax, I’ve got your leg.” This issue is something everyone should think about because there is a salon I enjoy the services from but the chairs at the dryer don’t fit my “bootyliciousness.” In a service industry you must consider everybody.
Tashawna Hundley
Square Nails, Jersey City, N.J.

I had a client with this issue. I hired a carpenter and had my station reinforced at the legs and the top where she would push down to stand up. I selected a client chair that would accommodate any size that walked through the door. And for pedicures I use a vintage hairstylists’ chair that is very stout and useful because I can pump it up for taller patrons. My waiting area is a park bench as I have a garden theme in my salon that also was selected to accommodate all shapes and sizes. I considered the needs of my larger clients with every purchase of furniture, and the upside to that is furniture that accommodates more weight also lasts longer so you save in the end!
Holly Gregson
Monarch Nails, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Illustration by Yuiko Sugino

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