When Skyy Hadley was in collegestudying marketing, she started doing nails for her friendsbecause no one could afford to get them done at the time. “Itwas really expensive back then to get acrylics,” says Hadley,who took a job in the corporate world with her sister beforerealizing that her true love was doing nails.
She began her nail career working in a salon called Just Nails in Kansas City,Mo.After moving to New York City in the late ’90s, she got a job at Bliss Spa in 1999.As a nail tech at the popular high-end spa, Hadley worked alongside spa founder Marcia Kilgore. “She would be doing facials and I would be doing a manicure,” says Hadley. “It was really an honor to work alongside her and see how she operated her business.” Bliss was focused solely on natural nail care and pedicures, and Hadley fit right in with her vast understanding of nail conditions and makeup.
After working at Bliss and realizing how much money was to be made in nail care, Hadley decided to take the leap. “I felt like clients weren’t always getting what they paid for,” says Hadley. “From one nail tech to another, a client wasn’t necessarily getting the same quality of service. I knew I wanted to open my own small spa that was focused solely on nails and was very personal.”
Hadley opened As “U” Wish Nail Spa in Hoboken, N.J., at the referral of a client. “One of my clients, who lives in Hoboken, knew I was looking for a secluded spot and she suggested I check it out,” she says. “I found a brick storefront in a residential area that I knew was just perfect for me and my clients.” Opening in October 2003, she continued working at Bliss until June 2004. “I just realized that it was time to put all my energy into As “U” Wish,” says Hadley. “Many of my clients had followed me to Hoboken because the salon is so warm and inviting.”
Your Wish Is My Command
The Moroccan-themed salon is complete with warm, multi-colored fabrics and really feels like you are inside a genie’s bottle. “I am the genie in the bottle,” boasts Hadley. “My wish is your command. I really wanted to create something small and personal.” She chose fabrics in warm tones (red, orange, yellow, brown, blue) that all mean something special to her (love, friendship, tranquility, calming).
“I really like being in this residentialarea because it is so secluded, so it offersanother level of privacy to myclients,” says Hadley. And, apparently,that pays off. Hadley counts FaithEvans, P. Diddy, and Alicia Keys asclients who come out of the city to experiencethe delights of the little hideawayspot called As “U” Wish.
The salon has one large room with four manicure stations and three pedicure stations, as well as a retail boutique up front. There is a separate room in the back where employees can offer waxing.
“I searched for my chairs for a long time,” notes Hadley. “I feel like there are a lot of bigger women who won’t get their nails done because they aren’t comfortable in the chairs. So I wanted to find large, comfortable chairs that would accommodate anyone.”
And while she doesn’t do a hardpress retail sales pitch, she offers “frou-frou” boutique items like purses and sandals.
It’s All About You
Her clients, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, come to As “U” Wish for the privacy and the pampering. Pedicures are her most popular service. “My most popular pedicure is The Blue Lagoon,” says Hadley, of the refreshing hour-long lavender and peppermint pedicure that she says is good if you are tired and fatigued and wish to sleep well.
“I look at all of my clients’ feet before recommending which pedicure I think they should have,” says Hadley, whose pedicures range from $45-$70.
In addition to specialty pedicures (with names like Sweet Release and Milk Me Away), As “U” Wish offers a unique manicure service. “All of our manicures are completely waterless,” says Hadley. “Each spa-style manicure comes with a choice of eight cream fragrances and we put the cream and essential oils into a warm baggie with the client’s hands. It’s so moisturizing, they love it.”
Hadley says she sees about two men for every three women who come into the salon. “The men really enjoy the Nine-One-One pedicure, which is for severely dry feet. And we’re planning on adding some more specific services just for men.”
The salon, which has four nail techs, including Hadley, has higher prices than other salons in the surrounding area, but as Hadley states, “We’re really not afraid of competition. I know that we are offering something that no one else is. There is not another shop like mine in Hoboken. Our prices are higher, but we offer more than just an assembly-line service.”
Her hardest challenge in the past year as an owner has definitely been attracting good staff members. She’s found the best way to go is to ask the area schools for recommendations of their best students. “I depend on word of mouth and I ask the other techs here to contact the schools they attended to see if anyone is looking for a job.”
“While I can’t offer benefits yet, I offer one-on-one training and a great work environment,” says Hadley, whose employees make 30%-45% commission on services as well as a percentage of retail. “I offer them great opportunities to do home calls for important clients and to do fashion and magazine shoots.”
The other thing Hadley offers her employees that many salon owners don’t is the right to keep their own rolodex. “I allow them to build their own clientele and keep a rolodex of clients that they can take with them if they leave. I was never allowed to do that before and I didn’t understand why,” says Hadley, who thinks it’s important to let her employees keep the clients they have cultivated.
And so far, business has been increasing. “It’s been great and I can really see the future. The numbers are already growing and customers are coming back.”
“It’s been really rewarding to be able to make something successful outside of New York City, when I have been told it’s impossible to do well outside of the city,” says Hadley, who has her sights set on more salons in the near future — and one just might be in New York City.
Salon As “U” Wish Nail Spa
Location: Hoboken, N.J.
Owner: Skyy Hadley
Square Footage: 500
Years of Ownership: 1
Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 4/4
Specialties: Pedicures and manicures
Other Services: Acrylic nails, waxing
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.