San Francisco is a city dotted with boutique nail spas. It seems like every day there’s another cute salon opening that caters to the local clientele. Normally, opening a nail spa with two others within a mile radius may seem like a death wish. For ZaZa Nail Spa, it was a move in the right direction.

The tranquil spa is a welcome oasis for the South Beach District at South Park. Clients in the busy area have been flocking to ZaZa since its opening in late 2005.

Owner, Owner, Owner were Keys to Building a Burgeoning Business: The old real estate saying is that there are three important factors to beginning a successful business: location, location, location. So, when real estate agents turn business owners, it’s a sure bet that the business will have a prime location. ZaZa Nail Spa is no exception.

It is the product of Rachel Wong, Lillian Wong, and Dion Cheng; all three have some business/marketing background, but Rachel and Dion are also both real estate agents.

Rachel explains, “We always wanted to open something from scratch and put our creativity and marketing skills to use. Plus, it’s a place where our friends and family can come together.” In bringing their friends and family together, they’ve also brought together others from the prime locale.

ZaZa is in the middle of “plenty of foot traffic during business hours and residential traffic in the evenings,” says Rachel. “It’s an up-and-coming area with young professionals living in new luxury high-rise condos and lofts. It’s modern and contemporary. Our spa is centrally located around fine restaurants, bars, fashion boutiques, and art galleries.” Capitalizing on the area’s strengths and style, ZaZa itself is a modern, yet comfortable, neighborhood spa, and Rachel says “we are a completely different ambiance than the other local nail spas.”

Client Considerations for a Calm and Clean Spa:

“We want to keep the feel comfortable and cozy without invading anyone’s personal space,” says Rachel. “We have a spacious spa — 2,000 square feet — and can accommodate 12 people at once. We still have lots of room for mingling and movement.”

For those who purposefully don’t want to mingle, ZaZa offers a bit of privacy at the back of the spa. “It’s just a little area,” says Rachel. “We have a little drapery there, and it’s by request only. A lot of couples go there when there’s a husband or boyfriend who doesn’t want to sit in the rest of the salon.” The area can be portioned off, and the two chairs there are closer together offering a bit more intimacy away from the rest of the clients and techs.

Allowing clients the option to stroll and interact or hide away in the back isn’t the only way ZaZa keeps clients in mind. The spa’s owners also pride themselves on its sanitation procedures. The foot basins are stainless-steel and easily disinfected and Rachel says, “We never reuse files, buffs, pumice stones, or loofahs. We give all of these to the clients at the end of the treatment.” Other implements are disinfected and dried under a UV light before being sealed in a hospital-grade pouch.

Serving San Francisco in Style: When clients live in luxury high-rise condos, they often demand not only a perfect atmosphere and clean facilities, but also luxury services.

In tune with the neighborhood’s needs, ZaZa is a natural-only nail spa. Services include nail art and restoration for nails recovering from acrylics and gels. And although 80% of the spa’s services are focused on nails, the other 20% are specialty services that help ZaZa stand out from its competitors.

One specialty service is an ancient form of hair removal. For $20, clients can have threading done on their eyebrows. Threading involves using 100% cotton threads to remove hair from the follicles. Clients can also opt for chin, cheeks, lips, or whole-face threading.

Another olden specialty spa service is Thai foot massage. Clients relax on cushy recliners while enjoying an ancient traditional Thai foot massage. The massage is “a unique blend of deep tissue massages of the lower legs and feet that involves hands-on stretching to ‘open’ Zen (energy) lines. It also involves the use of a wooden stick to stimulate the reflex points on the feet, which reduce stress and muscle soreness,” says Rachel.

Primping the Peaceful Party People:

Clients who enjoy ZaZa’s services can also choose to rent out the spa. Word of mouth and the spa’s pastel-colored website, along with coverage and reviews in mainstream media, have helped promote the spa’s party services. The website promotes parties for private corporate events, pre-vacation celebrations, birthdays, bachelorette parties, bridal parties, or a friends’ day/night out.

Hosts can arrange for food and beverage, or they can bring items and ZaZa employees will help arrange them upon arrival. Hostesses can also bring wine or champagne and the spa will provide wine glasses and platters.

ZaZa’s spacious areas can accommodate up to 60 people, and either nine pedicures or 12 manicures can be performed at a time. ZaZa parties require a 15-person minimum (or $750), and there is a $50 minimum per person. Additional costs include a 20% gratuity upon checkout and an additional $150 per hour for times reserved after normal business hours. Party perks include 10% off all retail items, and the hostess gets a free brow-wax gift card.

ZaZa Zooms On:

The instant success of ZaZa has prompted the owners to think about the future. Rachel says, “We want to expand and offer full body massages and facials.” But expansion of the current ZaZa is not enough for the three marketing moguls.

The owners also plan on opening another ZaZa soon. As for the location, “We’re not sure yet. It’s still in the works,” says Rachel.

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