The last time I officially worked in a salon with a full clientele was November 1989. It was at Fingertips and Finery in Calabasas, and it was one of the best times of my life. I was competiting heavily back then and doing well. I had a full book, then NAILS Magazine called. I knew the right opportunity would present itself, and when it did I dropped my clientele (who all knew this was eventually going happen) moved and went to work for NAILS Magazine. Fast-forward 22 years...
I knew someday the time would be right to go back into the salon. Last summer I bit the bullet and found a salon I could work at part time. My decision was based on three difficult years, during which I closed my nail product business because of the economy, had some challenging consulting jobs, and a personal family issue that made me think about my future and the changes I needed to make in my career. Plus I am getting older, which I hate to admit, but I need to think about my “working golden years,” where I can do what I love to do and make a nice living without having to go 90 miles an hour, which I have been doing for the last 25 years.
Working in a salon, as an independent nail tech has always been a staple I felt I could fall back on to make my own way, not having to depend on someone else or wonder where next check was coming from. From day one I have always loved doing nails, and I still do. The salon I chose is a good one. However it's a spa not known for nails so I have not built the solid base of clients like I thought I would. The salon owner is a great gal, and I am not looking forward to leaving her but it is time.
There are three manicurists in the family now: My youngest sister Natalie, who graduated from nail school this past summer and has joined me and another great tech, Kim Tucker, who also works with us at the salon. For many reasons we need to move on and the thought of working in another salon was not appealing. Over the years I have had so many nail tech friends complain that other techs don’t clean the pedi spas as thoroughly as they do, or the salon owners don’t care about the nail techs, who they stick in the back of the salon, or the nail techs can’t get the supplies they need. On and on about issues that I personally never want to be part of. We are three strong, independent hard working techs, and together we decided to find our own place, create our own environment, and brand ourselves.
Having children or owning a salon has never been on my to-do list and I am not into babysitting either. I truly believe you cannot manage a large salon effectively from behind the chair. It needs constant management and leadership to flourish. So my two new salon partners and I will equally open a nail salon that the three of us equally manage and I will be the team leader. I have also always felt that you either do it up big or small to be successful, so small it is.
After a few meetings the three of us know what we want. We are all on the same page and set out looking for the “perfect” spot where we can create a relaxing environment where we can offer high-end services and fulfill our creative juices, especially mine. And create that nails-only salon environment that used to exist back in the '80s.
For the last year, knowing I would eventually do this, I have driven around town with my eyes on every business building, shopping plaza, and other location that I thought would meet our needs. Now that we are seriously looking I hit the streets hard and started making calls.
It's important that we build a creative space we can afford together, which allows us to offer quality customized services in a drama-free environment. We're building a team where we can share clients, be consistent with our services, make a nice living, and be excited to unlock the door every day.
--Vicki Peters, Polish Salon, Brea, Calif.
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