Kimberly Herman got into the nail industry when she was 18 years old after attending nail school in Florida. She opened her first salon a few years later with a partner and then went on to open a string of salons in Broward County throughout the 1980s. After relocating to Denver (and after her children were grown up) she resumed her interest in the nails world and opened Posh Nails in 2009 in the Cherry Creek Mall. “It never felt like work for me. It still doesn’t feel like work. I always loved doing nails,” she says.
Herman passed on her ambition and love of nails to her daughter. The two of them took their Colorado nail tech licensing test on the same day, and because they were so nervous they both thought they failed. “Taking the test after 28 years of doing nails, you get set in your ways. I didn’t think I did well!” Herman says. But they both passed and now her daughter, Jasmine Litvak, manages the salon.
The Cherry Creek Mall is located in Cherry Creek North, a ritzy neighborhood of Denver. Because of its upscale residents, the mall houses such stores as Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton. Outside the mall, Herman says there are nice restaurants, cute boutiques and the trees are decorated with white lights that are lit at night. Herman chose her location because she wanted to have a space in that mall. Having that space distinguishes Posh Nails from other salons, Herman explains, because everyone knows of the salon in the mall.
Being located in the mall can have its challenges, though, such as the extremely high rent, holiday parking, and staying staffed during the mall hours and holidays during which most salons are closed.
Herman explains that while the salon has a standard list of services such as a range of manicures and pedicures, its most popular service is the Pamper-Me mani/pedi, which includes a sugar scrub and long massage in addition to the regular service. Posh Nails also offers Gelish manicures, acrylic and rebase manicures, princess manis/pedis for kids 5-11, facial waxing, eyelash extensions, and strip lashes. Herman says these days the salon’s gel-polish service is far and away the most popular menu item.
Herman also acknowledges that while it is hard to maintain a unique menu because the industry is so competitive, she uses an autoclave to distinguish her salon because it’s not an industry staple. Though it is an added expense, Herman says she feels like it’s a nice touch to be able to offer hospital-grade sterilization to clients.
Despite paying a premium to rent the space in the mall, Posh Nails’ prices are extremely competitive with other salons in the area because she sees so much foot traffic. Herman received an award as the sixth highest tenant in gross sales, and Posh Nails was the only privately owned company of those six.
Because the salon’s rent is such a large portion of its expenses, Herman says she tried to use every corner of the salon in a smart way. There is a section dedicated to retail, and though there are no treatment rooms, there is an area in the back for waxing. Herman described the decor as “organic contemporary that is elegant and extremely clean.” With cowhide chairs and metal desks, the aesthetic is simple and cute with an emphasis on hygiene.
Due to the convenient location of the salon, Posh Nails sees about 250-500 walk-in clients per month. This huge volume of clients is how Herman maintains a profit. Many of those clients are couples (with men making up about a quarter of all customers), young professionals, mall employees, mother-daughter pairs, and those who are getting done up for an event. Herman’s co-owned hair salon, Thompson & Company, across the hall makes it easy for people to get both services done back-to-back. Posh Nails also hosts — and gives discounts for — bachelorette, bridal, and birthday parties, as well as conventions that come into town.
One of the requirements to work at Posh Nails is that techs must sell retail. Convincing her staff to sell in addition to doing nails wasn’t a simple task. And while the girls working the front desk do a majority of the selling, Herman taught her techs how to promote products they were using in their services to clients. It’s a great way for both Herman and the techs to earn extra income. Each tech works in black scrubs and receives an instruction manual about how to do services, how to handle certain clients, and how to work in retail items.
Working for Posh Nails has its benefits. The staff receives free nail services, half off retail items, and free hair services at Herman’s neighboring salon. Those who work at the hair salon also receive free nail services. This added perk promotes both of Herman’s salons to customers. Herman says she treats her employees how she would want to be treated if she were working for them and she sees very little turnover. She continually works to keep her staff motivated and amicable toward each other, because as an owner, these issues can become problems if left unaddressed. “I always try to be a good boss. I try to be fair,” she says.
The salon sells a generous portion of retail items including Herman’s line of products, Denver Diva, as well as LaLicious bath and body products, Haviana flip flops, polishes, cuticle oil, candles, and underwear. Because renting a space in the mall is so expensive, Herman says she has to sell retail to supplement the salon’s income and she generally sees retail making up about 25% of profits.
Being such a clean salon and being able to offer indoor parking during the snowy months are added perks. Plus, the salon has a VIP program for customers — with a $19.95 a month membership, clients get $15 off any initial service and 20% off any additional services after that.
Salon Name: Posh Nails
Owner: Kimberly Herman
Nail Techs/Employees: 14/17
Compensation Structure: Booth rental
Square Footage: 1,200
Signature Services: Pamper me mani/pedi