Learning from its 3-year-old sister salon (Chi Nail Bar), the newly opened Ki Nail Bar in downtown Los Angeles reflects owner Fawn Ton’s experience in growing Chi, while making itself distinctive by targeting a different demographic.
When I learned that Fawn Ton was opening a second salon, I wondered why this salon didn’t get the same name as the first. After all, her first salon, Chi Nail Bar, has built up great word-of-mouth marketing and is a TV darling. But after talking to Ton and seeing the new space, it makes sense. Ki really takes on its own personality from big sister Chi (where “Chi” means life force in Chinese; “Ki” means the same in Japanese). Whereas Chi targets celebrities and other affluent clientele, Ki targets the everyday salon-goer. Located in an open-air shopping center, Ki is conducive to walk-ins and offers lower prices on its service menu, making it more accessible.
At the original Chi Nail Bar, manicures and pedicures weren’t intended to be done at the same time. Ton figured that with an affluent clientele, folks would want to slow down and be pampered. However, as it turns out, even these clients are generally on the run. So, Chi has an ad hoc set up for mani-pedis to be done together. But at Ki, comfortable manicure tables were built into the custom pedicure benches from the start. Ton also learned to pays techs an hourly wage for these first few months, before switching them to commission.
Since it has a separate name, Ki has to undertake the task of building up its own word-of-mouth. I didn’t realize what a brilliant plan the salon’s rockstar gel manicure was in achieving this goal until after I walked out of the salon. Why? Because not a day has gone by in two weeks that I haven’t gotten at least one compliment on my stunningly glittery fingernails.
> Fawn Ton found a lot of her nail techs by using the free classifieds website Craigslist.org. For now, she’s also asking employees of Chi Nail Bar to take turns working at Ki.
> Ki uses UV-LED lights for its gels, since clients’ hands spend less time in them than in traditional UV-CFL lights. Even though an independent study (available at www.nailsmag.com/UVlampstudy) found that UV nail lamps don’t cause cancer, Ton says some clients still harbor this fear and that the shorter cure time seems to alleviate the fear for some clients.
> Ton attends beauty tradeshows ISSE Long Beach and IBS Las Vegas every year. The salon will also sometimes pay for tradeshow tickets for its employees.
Rockstar Gel Manicure: $60;
Jade Stone Foot Treatment: $90;
Stiletto Nails: $120;
Ki Organic Facial: $100;
Ki Pregnancy Massage (60 minutes): $120
Gels and Gel-Polishes: Bio Sculpture Gel, CND Shellac, Hand & Nail Harmony
Gelish, Nail Labo Presto
Jade-Themed Services: Jadience
Nail Coatings: Minx
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.