Stay Polished Beauty and Martini Bar owner Morgan Lucas is full of ambition. She became a licensed nail tech at 17, opened Stay Polished at 20, and at 21, is already planning on expansion.
She grew up in the beauty industry. Her grandmother taught cosmetology at a vocational high school when she was younger and her mother owned a spa. During high school, Lucas started attending nail school at night and worked as a nail tech in her mother’s spa.
Eventually, her mother sold the spa and Lucas went off to college with no plans to work in the beauty industry again. She would get her nails done at other salons in her neighborhood, but felt disappointed with her options.
“I always knew that I wanted to own my own business but I never really knew what kind,” Lucas says. “Then I thought we could make a really cool nail salon that has good service, a good vibe, and is super clean.” The result is Stay Polished Beauty and Martini Bar, a ’50s-themed nail salon in Fairlawn, Ohio, a suburb of Akron. Since opening last year, the salon has been able to flourish in a very competitive area thanks to its unique look and emphasis on the client experience.
Stay Polished is located on the second floor of a business plaza in a busy part of town with a mall close by. With many salons and spas in the neighborhood, there’s plenty of competition, but Lucas says that growing up in Fairlawn helped her decide which location would be best. “Since I grew up here and live here now, I know the market really well and I’m pretty familiar with all the other salons,” she says.
Stay Polished emphasizes healthy nail care, offering natural nail services only. Its most popular service is gel-polish. Every manicure and pedicure comes with a free bottle of Morgan Taylor or Zoya polish to take home. “A lot of people are worried about cleanliness and sanitation, so when you get a brand new polish you also know that it’s never been used by anyone else,” Lucas says. “It’s never been thinned down or compromised chemically in any way.”
The salon’s signature treatment is its spa-inspired Stay Polished manicure and pedicure, which includes a foot exfoliation scrub. Also on the menu are hand and foot skin treatments for clients who aren’t interested in getting their nails done.
Lucas developed an interest in skin health after the salon began carrying Footlogix products. It’s the only salon in the area with these products, which have proved very popular with customers and are among its best-selling retail items. The salon also sells boutique items like pedi-socks and yoga sandals.
The salon’s main clientele is made up of professional women between the ages of 35 and 60. Lucas says they’ll often bring along their daughters or husbands as well.
Taking inspiration from tanning salons, Stay Polished uses a membership system in which customers pay $75 to get 25% off all retail and services for the year. The program has helped the young salon build up customer loyalty.
“A lot of times when you’re out shopping you’ll think, ‘Oh, I’ll just stop in this nail salon,’ so it’s really hard to create loyalty. With us, customers will think, ‘Oh, I already have a membership there, so I’ll go there instead,’” she says. “We also have special events that are members-only. We’re thinking about having a cosmetic surgeon come in and do Botox.” The salon also has a rewards program, where clients can earn points towards services by referring a friend, prescheduling an appointment, or even liking the salon on Facebook.
Currently, Stay Polished has four nail technicians, including Lucas. She plans to hire more, but is finding it tough to find candidates. The salon is very team-oriented, however. “When our employees get good reviews they get rewarded and recognized, and we’re really looking out for their best interests as well. We’re not just trying to work them to the bone,” she says.
Employees are salaried and get commission for any retail products sold. The salon holds classes and Lucas hopes to take her team to tradeshows.
When creating her salon, Lucas drew inspiration from the 1950s. Stay Polished features decorations inspired by the era, with some modern touches. “Everything is retro. We play Frank Sinatra and other music from the ’50s,” she says. “There are images of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe all over.”
Stay Polished has four manicure and four pedicure stations. Earlier this year, the salon also got its liquor license and opened a martini bar for customers.
“The martini bar is helpful in attracting groups and parties,” Lucas says. “They are mostly bridal parties or showers, but we have also had Mother’s Day and Girls’ Night Out groups.”
Lucas has accomplished a lot for her age, but she doesn’t let it go to her head. Though she grew up in the beauty industry, she says she still learns through the business.
“Every once in a while there are clients who are older and think they know better and sometimes they do know better,” she admits. “I think the key is that as a young owner you should be open to hearing and learning from other people’s perspectives. There’s always something new and you can never know everything about everything.”
After a year in business, expansion is already in the works, and Lucas has chosen a more metropolitan area for the salon’s second location. The new salon will feature a men’s side.
“We have noticed a considerable number of men coming in to our
Salon Name: Stay Polished Beauty and Martini Bar
Location: Fairlawn, Ohio
Owner: Morgan Lucas
Square Footage: 2,200
Opened: July 2015
Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 4/5
Specialties: Natural nails, foot health
Compensation Structure: Salary