Nestled in the small community of Edgewater, Colo., just outside downtown Denver, the staff and management of UberChic Nail Boutique live a philosophy of eco-friendliness every day on the job. It’s even enshrined in the salon’s philosophy through a four-pronged “chic” approach outlined on its website: eco-chic, or using lots of organic and vegan products; affordable-chic, which means providing value to clients; OCD-chic, which means adhering to stringent cleanliness standards; and urban-chic, or supporting local artists and businesses.
A Family Affair
UberChic is the brainchild of B.K. Turner, who said she started the salon as a bit of an impulse decision. At 30, she was tired of her job in software test engineering and was craving something more creative. Turner had spent many years working part-time in salons to supplement her income and had often found herself thinking of what she would change if the salons were hers. When she found a listing online for a commercial space on the main street of Edgewater, UberChic was born.
“I found the space and went for it,” she says. Shortly thereafter, Turner invited her two younger sisters, who were both working in nail salons, to join her in her new venture. All three women, as well as their mother, have a lot of experience working in nail salons. Today, Turner’s sisters serve as managers.
“They were doing nails somewhere else and I thought it would be nice for the three of us to work for ourselves in one place,” Turner says.
An Uber-Green Lifestyle
Incorporating eco-friendliness into her new salon wasn’t even a question for Turner. She and her sisters, who grew up in Germany, were already used to adhering to practices that are mandatory or standard there, such as recycling and bringing your own bags to go shopping.
“For us, it’s kind of ingrained and it’s part of our culture,” she says. “People there are very aware of sustainability.”
To help bring that awareness to her salon, Turner offers discounts to clients who help reduce their carbon footprint. Clients who carpool or bring their own flip-flops for pedicures receive a dollar off their treatments and those who bike or walk to the salon receive two dollars off.
“We want to encourage our customers to be part of our philosophy,” she says.
It’s an approach that has worked well with UberChic’s location, which is conducive to biking and walking, and with the salon’s health-conscious clientele, which is largely made up of women in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. The salon does also have some older clients and an occasional male client as well. The area around UberChic has been changing and has recently attracted a younger, hip crowd, and many young families.
Good Things in Small Packages
UberChic’s original location had only about 600 square feet, four pedicure chairs, three manicure stations, and one small room for facials and waxing. Business has been going so well that the salon moved to a 930-sq.-ft. location down the street in early April that has five pedicure chairs, four manicure stations, and larger treatment and retail areas.
In the new location, UberChic will continue offering its signature services: organic manis and pedis, so called because of the organic products UberChic uses with them, and a gel-polish manicure that Turner says is the salon’s most popular service. UberChic also offers add-ons such as Eco-fin, a petroleum-free alternative to paraffin hand wax, as well as facials, waxing, and chemical peels. She has also been looking to hire a massage therapist in response to customer requests for massage and reflexology treatments. The larger space in UberChic’s new location will be more conducive to offering massage treatments.
The decor in the original location included exposed ceilings and concrete floors warmed up with accents like wood furniture, bamboo, and warm colors in accent pillows. The new location will have a similar feeling of minimalism and clean lines, but will be a little more streamlined.
Turner estimates about 80% of UberChic’s business comes from nail treatments. And while the salon does sell some retail items, especially jewelry and beauty products made by local designers and businesses, the small space means retail isn’t the main focus.
Turner spends a lot of time researching new techniques and services. She and her husband enjoy traveling, and whenever she goes somewhere, especially overseas, Turner makes it a point to get treatments at other salons to get ideas for how she could potentially improve operations and services at UberChic.
Clients and Techs Are Family, Too
In addition to her two sisters, Turner also employs two other nail technicians. Like many small business owners, she says finding and keeping top-notch employees has been a challenge.
“It’s like a family affair here, really, and it’s very important to me to bring on someone who will get that — someone who is a team player and personable and engaging, because that’s the kind of customer we have as well,” she says.
Turner aims to retain employees by keeping them satisfied and engaged. She concentrates on the business side of things and no longer sees clients very often, but it’s not unusual for her to bring coffee and snacks to her nail techs on a busy Saturday. And, she says, the compensation, which is commission-based, is very competitive.
While UberChic’s emphasis on green living makes it stand out from the crowd, Turner credits the salon’s family atmosphere with keeping clients coming back year after year. Her dog, Emma, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, often hangs out in the salon and a lot of clients stop by and greet her. She often finds herself running into clients at the grocery store and other locations around town — a welcome change from her work in IT, where she spent most of her time in front of a computer and didn’t have as much of a chance to get to know her coworkers and clients.
“They’re not just treated like another customer walking in the door,” she says. “They’ve really grown with us. I know our customers go and try new things because they come back and tell us about it. It’s nice that they come back because it means they like what they’re getting here.”
Name: UberChic Nail Boutique
Location: Edgewater, Colo.
Owner: B.K. Turner
Square footage: 930
Total staff: 5
Caroline Keyser is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ga.