Thirteen years ago, award-winning nail tech Samantha “Sammy” Grant began her career working in high-profile salons throughout the United Kingdom. But after the birth of her daughter, she became self-employed, renting space in a hair salon. Her business grew rapidly, despite having hired additional staff to keep up with client demand. In 2010, it was time to open a much larger nail-focused salon in her hometown of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Polish Nail & Beauty is very “girly, pink, and glitzy,” according to Grant, co-owner and founder. The salon specializes in free-hand nail art and uses brands like CND, Minx, Bio Sculpture, OPI, and NSI.
“Customers love the salon’s relaxed social environment with our adjoining nail stations,” says Grant. “They also like being able to come to an esteemed salon for a reasonable price.”
Grant and her salon have won and been finalists for a multitude of nail industry awards, most recently Professional Beauty’s 2013 Nail Salon of the Year.
Manicures start at £20 — roughly $30 — for a mini mani, and go as high as £42 — about $64 — for acrylic extensions. However, each week Polish Nail & Beauty runs one treatment off its menu at a highly discounted rate to keep services even more affordable.
IN AND AROUND ABERDEEN
Polish Nail & Beauty is based in a shopping complex in a large residential area. According to Grant, Aberdeen is known for its lucrative oil and gas industry. “Lucky for us, with a lot of oil comes a lot of women who love to pamper themselves,” says Grant. “Our majority customer base is between 21 to 40 years old.”
Grant always felt Aberdeen lacked high-quality nail salons, so she knew it would be a good place to settle. In early 2010, she went on a hunt for the perfect salon premises. Her criteria included a location with high foot traffic, at least 1,000 square feet, and free, convenient customer parking. “I wouldn’t have settled for any location that didn’t tick all the boxes,” says Grant.
According to Polish Nail & Beauty’s website, the salon is New York-inspired and created to bring the local beauty salon back into the social scene. The website boasts an easily accessible online booking system and countless images of the salon’s nail art repertoire.
“Due to the demand being high in the growing nail industry and the fact that we have very little competition because of where we’re based, we have a very large target market,” says Grant.
Polish Nail & Beauty’s annual revenue in its first year was approximately $205,000. Today, it’s over $300,000.
FREE-HAND NAIL ART FOR ALL
While Polish Nail & Beauty offers a variety of nail services, including Bio Sculpture gel overlays and acrylics, the salon’s free-hand nail art takes the cake. “Our nail art is really popular and basically based on whatever the customer wants or likes,” says Grant. “Most of the time it’s very personal.” A handful of popular designs created by Polish Nail & Beauty nail techs over time are chronicled on the salon’s Facebook page and website. “I found that the nail art demand has grown steadily over the past few years — now we hardly do any plain colors or French without adding some kind of extra detail,” she says.
Grant and her staff are improving their gel nail art services as well. “Since we received Be Creative Gel Paints recently, our average service time has decreased,” says Grant, who’s now an educator with Be Creative. “We offer gel-polish with full nail art in an hour’s time — it’s a great, quick turnaround.”
In-house training is offered on a weekly basis with a strong focus on nail art skills and troubleshooting. The staff keeps up to date with new techniques and products mainly through trade publications and social media. Grant encourages them to continue entering in nail art competitions around the U.K.
“I’ve always been very nail-focused and have won a lot of awards and competitions for nails,” says Grant, who still sees her long-term clients at the salon. “At the moment I’m doing a lot of session work though, so I’m trying to cut down to only two clients per day.”
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
Over the past three years, Polish Nail & Beauty has gone through many facelifts. “I’m addicted to revamping this salon to keep it looking its best,” says Grant.
The space grew from four to eight nail stations and Grant is having a chandelier custom-made to run the full length of the salon’s nail bar. New customer chairs for the bar and soak-off stations are in the works, and within the next few months, the salon will be integrating custom-built spa pedicure chairs. Additionally, Grant is looking into revamping the salon’s entrance hallway.
“One of the most challenging things for me has been budget control as I adore new products, training, and love a good salon revamp,” says Grant. “However I had to reduce my extra spending once we were hit with a 20% Value Added Tax (VAT) levied by the government.”
With strong hopes for the future, Polish Nail & Beauty currently has an offer for a second shop, is a finalist at the U.K. Scratch Nail Awards, and is working with a few brands to develop product awareness throughout Scotland.
Salon name: Polish Nail & Beauty
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Owners: Samantha Grant and John Jones
Square Footage: 1,075 sq. ft.
Opened: October 9, 2010
Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 4/11
Specialties: Free-hand nail art
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