Originally from Plymouth, England, AriaHouse Spa owner Rachel Smith travelled the world as a hairstylist onboard cruise ships for five years before settling down in Georgetown, Texas, where she lives with her husband, a former diver who also worked onboard.
“We travelled to a lot of exciting places, some of which were tropical,” Smith recalls. “As you can imagine, I spent my days off in the Caribbean lounging on the beach and sipping margaritas.”
Although Smith gained a wealth of cultural knowledge and collected unforgettable memories while onboard, she says it could be stressful: Clients were often on tight time deadlines for dinner reservations and frequently cancelled appointments due to sea sickness. There was also the adjustment to living and working with teammates in small quarters. Despite this, Smith describes the experience as “magical.”
“We motivated each other, and as a team we were unstoppable, always striving to hit our personal and business goals,” she says.
But eventually she decided to get married and start a more traditional life with a stationary home and career.
In 2004, she opened Razmataz Hair Salon, which has received recognition from Salon Today and won Austin’s Battle of the Salons. In August 2017, she opened AriaHouse Spa on the floor above.
She carried her aptitude for cohesive teamwork, strict punctuality, and relaxing services at sea into the two salons.
Because Smith already operated Razmataz below, opening a second business was instinctive. However, her world had always been hair, so she had to expand her knowledge of nail and spa services. AriaHouse now offers a customizable menu and uses locally made products by FarmHouse Fresh.
“We’re more intimate than other nail salons, and our clients can choose from different lotions, scrubs, and masks — we have spa services that last from 15 minutes to two-and-a-half hours, so our clients have a lot of choices,” she says.
Smith wanted to find the perfect fit for the role of lead nail tech when they expanded into the nail-focused second floor. But the hunt was proving to be difficult, and it occurred to Smith that perhaps her beauty-loving receptionist, Emily Davis, might be interested in the opportunity. The two worked out a deal where Smith paid for Davis to attend school.
AriaHouse also supports the whole team with onsite trainings and monthly meetings, while the salon offers its clients a vast array of services, from nails to spa to hair to retail. No matter whether a client or employee, Smith says she wants everyone involved to embrace the salon’s slogan: “Escape reality and find tranquility.”