“I spotted the lip couch in a storefront window and was pretty passionate about it,” explains Willis. “The original design belongs to Salvador Dali. I thought it would be a good benchmark for our salon, which is the perfect representation of glamour, sensuality, and true femininity. We decided to use this symbolism as our premise and found that the salon’s decor fell neatly into place.”

Willis had the wallpaper specially ordered to illustrate black-and-white portraits of women’s faces, some resembling Brigitte Bardot.

“I meticulously cut the paper to create a border to match in the restrooms and spent countless hours coloring in their lips with a deep ruby red pencil to breathe life into the design,” says Willis.

Willis explains she’s always been caught up in the world of glamour. She started working in retail at the age of 16, then dabbled in interior design.

“Glamour has always been important to me,” she says. “The more glitz, the better.”

Willis has made this the philosophy behind her salon, which opened its doors on March 31. So, how did this Nebraska-born woman enter the world of nails?

“I had slipped into the world of corporate America. After years of stress, I was finally ready to do something that pleased me instead of everyone else, something that I could be passionate about and content doing every day,” explains Willis. “Having a manicure and pedicure on a Saturday afternoon was so relaxing to me. I wondered if all women felt as recharged as I did after a couple hours m the salon. One day I came home to a brochure in my mailbox offering information about a nail technician course. A light bulb came on in my head and the next day I found myself enrolling at the Illinois Nail Technician’s Academy.”

Open for Business

It took nearly a year for Willis to find the perfect location for her new endeavor. She wanted a charming environment that would complement her theme of glamour along with a location that would cater to a diverse clientele.

“Elmhurst fit the bill perfectly,” says “Willis. “We’re in the heart of Elmhurst City Centre, which is a highly upscale neighborhood adorned with paved sidewalks and ornamental streetlights. Simply stated, to declare that your residence or business is located in Elmhurst offers a silent understanding that you are among the prosperous and affluent.”

Glam! Nails and More is located minutes away from Elmhurst College, a local high school, an historical movie theater that still gives out free popcorn refills, a commuter train whose final destination is downtown Chicago, a plastic surgeon’s office, a school of hair design, numerous upscale restaurants, and city hall across the street. To say that Willis did her homework when scouting locations is an understatement.

“We definitely obtained our goal of having an eclectic clientele,” says Willis. “We have high school and college students, career women, stay-at-home moms, and the mayor’s wife is even a regular now.”

Willis credits her instant popularity as the new kid on the block to her unique decor and impeccable services. From Extreme Manicures and Pedicures to the star-treatment getaway her salon provides, Glam! Nails and More has found a comfortable niche in her community.

“We are extremely competitive,” says Willis. “We have found a niche between the substandard and non-standard salons and the more expensive day spas.”

Willis describes Glam! Nails and More as a “specialty nail salon offering only the finest in products and services.”

Her menu offers basic manicures and pedicures, spa-type manicures and pedicures, and Extreme Manicures and Pedicures, which include anti-aging serums, emollients, concentrated reflexology, and paraffin. The salon also offers a comprehensive menu of enhancements including acrylics, gels, silks, and overlays. The “More” in Glam! Nails and More is a list of waxing services including eyebrow shaping. The salon is also becoming known for its unique and creative nail art. Willis recently brought on a nail technician who’s been doing freehand nail art for more than 15 years.

“Clients are always looking for styles that are unique,” says Willis. “We never duplicate a nail art design.”

Glamming it Up

Willis not only is the owner, but she’s one of the four nail technicians. She’s there to open the salon at 9 a.m. and to close it at 9 p.m., five days a week. From laundering and folding towels, to restocking manicure tables and pedicure carts, Willis is there to ensure that every aspect of the business is running smoothly.

“I’m quite a stickler when it comes to sanitation and cleanliness,” she says. “I’m quite pleased every time a client offers a comment on how neat and clean the salon is.”

Willis also takes care of reception, booking appointments, weekly payroll, and daily profit reports.

Glam! Nails and More also sets itself apart by offering a unique retail selection in eye-catching displays.

“Clients are always looking for that little extra,” says Willis. “We offer jewelry, beaded sarongs, hair jewelry, and of course, an extensive selection of polish.”

The salon even offers extended evening hours and schedules appoint­ments for local commuters after hours.

“Clients seem to be pleasantly surprised that we don’t inform them of what timeslots are available,” says Willis. “We simply ask them what day and time is best for them.”

It seems Willis’ employees are just as happy and receive the same amount of “star treatment” as Willis’ customers.

“All of our employees are given a competitive base salary and a great tiered commission structure so that their earning potential is limitless,” says Willis. “I’m proud of my techs and want them to profit as much from this new venture as I do.”

Willis supplies all of the products for her employees and even offers vacation and medical benefits.

“We also have a party room with a fully operating kitchen that employees can use to take their breaks and eat lunch or dinner,” boasts Willis. “We’ve also installed ‘cubbies,’ which are miniature lockers where employees can leave their personal items.”

With clients and employees so happy, what’s next on the agenda for Willis?

“To open a chain of Glam! Nails and More, of course,” says the enthusiastic owner.

Salon Name: Glam! Nails and More

Location: Elmhurst, III.

Owner: Marlee Willis

Square Footage: 1,500

Years of Ownership: Opened March 31

Number of Nail Techs/Employees: 4 Specialties: Extreme manicures and pedicures, gels

Other Services: Waxing

Compensation Structure: Employees

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