With one year left in college, nail tech Dallas Sauers dropped out and decided to open up a nail salon. It’s not the typical way of landing a job right out of college, but then again very little about Dallas Beauty Lounge is typical.
Sauers was 21 at the time and had worked at multiple nail salons, but none of them had what she was looking for. Some had the trendy atmosphere she wanted but weren’t clean, others were clean but had a clientele that wasn’t for her.
So, with $500 in hand borrowed from her dad, Sauers went to a local supply store to purchase a gel starter kit, a few polish colors, and a few tools. That was the first and last loan she ever took for her business.
For the next two-and-a-half years Sauers worked out of her house, eventually bringing aboard two employees, Kate Zarvis and Alexa Vercammen. They successfully created a name for themselves and garnered a large and loyal client base.
After saving enough money, Sauers was able to leave her house and open up Dallas Beauty Lounge in Bridgeville, Pa., where she’s been since March of this year.
The small town of Bridgeville is located about 13 miles south of Pittsburgh in a more suburban area. There aren’t very many trendy shops in the area apart from Dallas Beauty Lounge, but it’s close to Sauers’ house and an area her clients were used to.
“Just on my street alone there are about 20 other nail salons,” she says. But she doesn’t really see them as competition. “Those shops serve a different market,” she notes. Most are walk-in salons that offer more basic services and charge less. Dallas Beauty Lounge is by appointment only and services generally run an hour.
When you step into Dallas Beauty Lounge and take a look around, you quickly realize that it’s not a conventional nail salon. “I wanted to make something that no one else could find in Bridgeville and this definitely isn’t like any other salon that’s here,” Sauers says.
When you open the door, immediately to your right you see a hand-drawn, modern interpretation of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe on the wall — the work of Sauers and Vercammen. Where you might expect typical black salon chairs, instead you’ll find large pink and white thrones meant to ensure that clients feel they’re getting the royal treatment.
However, Sauers is an advocate of simplicity. Although nearly all the furnishings in the salon are custom-made, they adhere to a pretty simple color palette: pink, white, and silver. White walls line the salon’s 1,000 square feet, save for one spot — behind the four pink and white thrones rests a single silver glittering wall.
Dallas Beauty Lounge boasts around 2,000 clients, which means the salon is booked about four months in advance (a fact Sauers is very grateful for).
Due to the long waiting list, Dallas Beauty Lounge does something atypical of a nail salon: It doesn’t accept new clients. The only way they’ll take on a new client is if she is referred by a current client.
In the coming months, in order to keep up with demand, Sauers plans to add an additional 1,700 square feet to her salon by leasing the soon-to-be vacant space next door. Dallas Beauty Lounge should soon grow to a combined 2,700 square feet.
Sauers says she has the best women in the area on her staff. She has 12 employees, seven of whom specialize in nails, and says she has never had an employee quit. Although the majority of her technicians specialize in nails, Sauers has staff members who work on eyelashes, skincare, and makeup.
Every employee starts with a three-month training period where she is paid an hourly wage. After three months, six months, and 12 months, an employee is assessed and will either stay on an hourly wage or move up to commission. Commission workers earn more, but they’ll only be moved up to that system if their skills have improved enough during the evaluation periods.
The salon’s clientele consists mainly of young women aged 25-35. They all have different kinds of jobs, but what Sauers likes most about her clients is that they’re all women who know how to treat themselves right. “There are plenty of salons to choose from in the area, but our clients choose our salon because they’re women who want the best things and are willing to pay for them,” she says. “The technicians care about their clients and their clients can tell.” Occasionally their clients show their appreciation by bringing them coffee, cupcakes, or presents.
Dallas Beauty Lounge is best known for its hand-painted nail art, especially since no other salon in the area offers nail art. The salon is also well known for its eyebrow services. Still, the most popular service is gel manicures. “Gel manicures have been our most requested service for some time, but acrylic is creeping up and gaining popularity,” Sauers says. Dallas Beauty Lounge also offers eyelash services, skincare, waxing, and makeup.
Salon Name: Dallas Beauty Lounge
Location: Bridgeville, Pa.
Owner: Dallas Sauers
Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 7/13
Specialties: Nail art, gel-polish, and eyebrows
Compensation Structure: Hourly/commission