Prompted by the desire to create her ideal salon, esthetician and nail tech Victoria Vo sold her nails-only business and opened up a full-service location just two miles away. Decorating it herself and offering the services she’s always wanted, Ku’tur Nail Lounge and Salon has ended up being just right, the second time around.
Victoria Vo already owned a nail salon in Plant City, Fla. It’s a surprise then that the dual
licensee (nail technician and esthetician), unsatisfied with her nails-only business and despite offers to franchise it, chose to sell the salon and open another, full-service salon just two miles away.
After selling Sassi Nail Bar and Spa, she finished up her business degree. When Vo realized a rental space was available that was ideal for a new salon, she jumped at the chance, opening Ku’tur Nail Lounge and Salon in August 2009. With an ideal salon in mind, she customized it to her specifications.
“I just always wanted to own a salon that offered everything,” she says. “We were limited before, but with the space here, we were able to include everything.”
The Ideal Salon
For Vo, the ideal salon lies in the services it offers. She chose to expand services to include facials, waxing, teeth whitening, massages, and hair services, in addition to nails.
She now employs five nail technicians, three massage therapists, and one hairstylist — and Vo services clients as well.
On the nails side, Ku’tur offers both gel and acrylic enhancements, and has just recently started to use soak-off gels. Vo says they primarily carry OPI polishes because the company is constantly updating their polish collections. “Clients can always turn to us to get the latest colors,” she explains.
Vo created the service menu, and says the Hot Stone Deluxe Pedicure has been a favorite for clients on the nails side. At $25, the pedi includes cut, cuticle trim, buffing, a callus removal treatment, foot scrub, leg and heel exfoliation, hot stone massage with cooling gel, and polish.
On the spa side (which accounts for half the total salon revenue) body massages are popular.
To set her salon apart, Vo focuses on exceptional customer service, cleanliness, and educating clients. So clients can be comfortable about their safety, the Ku’tur website features salon cleaning methods on its own page. Although she says prices are standard for the services offered, her mostly upscale clientele of businessmen and women are treated with VIP service.
A New Location
Located in a new, mixed-use plaza, the exterior exudes an urban, New York feel, with businesses on the lower level and apartments above. There is a martini bar next door, and more retail businesses will soon be moving in.
Vo designed the salon herself, painting walls of the main room Tiffany blue, with the front waiting room area a dark tropic color. Already knowing what she didn’t want, she decided to make what she considered risky changes in design. “Everybody is used to their usual pedicure chairs with all the jets and back massagers,” she says. “For me to take the leap and have a pedicure bench without those extra accessories, it was scary.” She adds that although her clients don’t necessarily know about the difficulty in cleaning pedicure jets, her staff educates them about cleanliness, and clients have come to respect their commitment to sanitation.
At the entrance, a reception table stands in the middle with a large electric waterfall. Walking past that, the five-person, brown-and-white pedi bench lines one wall, separated by sheer white curtains and accessorized with matching pillows. Along the opposite wall is the manicure bar with six seats. Hairstylist stations sit in the back, and two separate rooms are reserved for massages and waxing.
Vo says she tries to keep a brown, blue, black, and white color scheme. Black and white framed prints of celebrities adorn the walls. Vo allows staff to wear whatever they like, as long as they stick to black and white.
A Good Time to Start
While many entrepreneurs may shrink away from the idea of starting a salon during a recession, Vo believes the opposite. “I think starting a business now is the best time for anybody,” she says. “Selling a business, on the other hand, is tough. We were fortunate to sell the old salon that we had.” One of the perks of starting now is she was able to negotiate a lowered rental rate with the landlord, who is now more willing to work with tenants.
She adds, “People still want to come in and get some stress relief, even if it’s just a simple pedicure.” Those who may no longer be able to afford a regular two-week acrylic fill choose instead to go with facials and massages, and Vo is fortunate to have those services available.
From servicing clients to keeping up to date with new trends, to managing the salon, Vo keeps herself involved with the day-to-day matters that come up. The change to full service meant that in order to answer all client questions, she had a lot to learn. “I started learning about massage and hair services,” she says. “I’m always open to learning. We’re in the industry and I want to know everything that’s out there.”
With her business goals attained, her hard work seems to have paid off. “I love coming into work,” Vo says. “This is my dream salon. It’s full service. It has everything I’ve ever wanted to offer.”
Salon Name: Ku’tur Nail Lounge and Salon
Location: Plant City, Fla.
Owner: Victoria Vo
Square Footage: 1,488
Opened: August 2009
Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 5/10
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