You know you’re doing something right when you’ve been open for just two years and you have already been a NAILS Salon of the Year finalist two years in a row – but this is the case with this year’s Salon of the Year (1-4 Nail Technicians) winner.

Opened in January 1999 by Rosemary Weiner, The Brass Rose Spa & Salon in Blairstown, N.J., was designed to be an elegant retreat with a subtle twist – a salon and spa that reaches a level of sanitation and sterilization that is virtually unparalleled in the industry. Every Brass Rose manicure station has its own localized running water and hospital-grade autoclaves.

With a background in business, Rosemary opened her salon like a corporation – rather than using booth renters to work in the nail department, she uses full-time employees who work on salary rather than commission. The salon provides 100% of the products and equipment that the employees use. And employees are trained to speak intelligently about the products they use – with the incentive of earning a commission on retail.

This kind of operation began to pay off early. Rosemary put her heart and soul into The Brass Rose and it showed. By the second quarter of her first year, she had begun to see the amount of business that she was hoping to see for the entire year. And even though she had such a successful year, she was experiencing a bad year in terms of keeping nail techs. You might have noticed that The Brass Rose is in a different category this year (1-4 Nail Technicians). Last year, the salon was in the 5+ Nail Technicians category with six techs, but they have been short-staffed for almost a year.

“Luckily, our clients have remained loyal to us,” says Rosemary. “We had people waiting six to eight weeks for a pedicure, actually we started booking pedicures in December for this summer.”

With only one nail technician who does enhancements at this time, Rosemary relies on other members of her team who are fully licensed cosmetologists to perform manicures and pedicures.

“It has really taught us a sense of team,” says Rosemary. “It is very touching how everyone has come through in this time of hardship. And from the hardship, arose a mutual respect for one another – it is really all about team. And I think it shows through.”

And to celebrate the team spirit, Rosemary brought Sarah Cummings, the nail team leader, with her to the Salon of the Year Awards this year. “It is really exciting – we are riding quite a high here. And it was really an honor to see the quality of the competition at the show. It was wonderful for Sarah to see that. I really have a sense of pride, and that spreads to the team, and in turn to our clients.”

And things are looking up. In addition to winning Salon of the Year 2000-2001, Rosemary hopes to have more nail techs by press time. “I would like to have eight full-time nail techs so that we can start accepting new nail clients and go back to being open seven days a week.”

Quaint & Homey

Barbara Byrd Eve was excited to be named a runner-up in the Salon of the Year (1-4 Technicians) category. Here she stands with The Nailco Group’s Larry Gaynor after accepting her certificate. When Barbara set out to decorate The Regency, she decided to keep the look in tune with the town’s reputation as a haven for antiques. She even stained the manicure tables herself to match the warm burgundy and navy color scheme.

Salon: The Regency

Location: Lebanon, Ohio

Owner’s Name: Barbara Byrd Eve

Years of Ownership: 5 in June

Specialties: Regency Pedicure, hand facial

Why it stands out: Being a nail technician and salon owner is actually Barbara Byrd Eve’s second career. She was in the insurance business for 18 years and had moved away from her hometown of Lebanon, Ohio. While in that occupation, she booked an appointment for her first professional nail service for her wedding. She decided that she enjoyed it so much she wanted to take it one step further and actually do nails.

After getting her license she worked in a salon for a few years, but she knew she wanted a place she could call her own. So she did her homework and found out that her hometown of Lebanon was the perfect place to open a nail-focused salon. At the time, most of the salons there were focusing on hair. The building, which she had always admired when she was a child, had actually housed apartments before she moved in. She converted the former apartment building into a comfortable homey salon.

When The Regency opened its doors in June 1996, the salon only featured tanning services. Then, a few weeks later, nail services – the backbone of the salon – joined the offerings on The Regency’s menu. Barbara not only oversees the business, she also works as a nail tech about 45 hours a week. She employs three nail techs, all of whom are salaried.

Although The Regency may have spa-like offerings, the salon goes out of its way to give clients a warm and cozy environment where pampering is the norm. The salon’s two-story façade gives way for the homelike atmosphere clients swear they’re entering. The antique décor matches the town’s reputation as a haven for antiques. And although the town is small, the antique shops draw many tourists.

Community involvement, sanitation, and customer service are the core of this salon’s operation, with one client attesting, “The inviting setting and quality personnel encourages repeat clients and ensures an enjoyable experience for new ones.” Now that The Regency is fast approaching its fifth anniversary, the year most businesses either make it or break it, Barbara says she sees no end in sight.

Teaching Them Well

Nail Spa is a nails-only salon that boasts exemplary sanitation practices, customer service, and total teamwork. One of the benefits of working at Nail Spa is that owner Sherry Storie-Russ encourages members of her team to attend events and classes – she even brought several employees with her to the awards ceremony and to compete in the Great Lakes Beauty Show nail competitions.

Salon: Nail Spa

Location: Mokena, Ill.

Owner’s Name: Sherry Storie-Russ

Years of Ownership: 3 in June

Specialties: complete hand and foot care

Why it stands out: Education is a key part of Nail Spa’s philosophy and has been since its inception. Opened three years ago by Sherry Storie-Russ, Nail Spa in Mokena, Ill., is a paradigm for education. Sherry is an advocate of education not only for the salon’s clients, but for its employees as well.

Nail Spa embraces a “Masters Teaching Masters” attitude, as they believe that every staff member possesses specific talents that every other staff member can benefit from. Sherry requires each technician to attend regular continuing education seminars, and she brings educators into the salon to ensure her technicians receive the latest in techniques and product knowledge. The evidence of this is the long list of continuing education classes her staff has taken in the three short years they’ve been in business. Couple this with their salon menu, which features a wide variety of the latest trends in nail and foot care, and you have a salon that is obviously interested in keeping abreast of what is important in the industry.

A ”house” account is provided to pay for continuing education and trade shows. Employees may even have their retail sales commission deposited into a Personal Growth Account, at which time Nail Spa will match the amount. All of this, combined with a great team atmosphere and a fresh, sunny salon décor, clearly makes Nail Spa a preferred destination for its clients.

On their first visit, clients are handed educational material specifically related to the Nail Spa and its services. The brochures answer questions such as “How long will a Nail Spa manicure or pedicure last?” and “What are the main advantages of nail enhancements?”.

The nail technicians at Nail Spa also provide clients pamphlets on MMA, explaining the health risks associated with MMA. The salon was even featured in a local newspaper article entitled, “What’s on Your Nails?” in which the dangers of MMA were outlined. Sherry and her staff were also given kudos for their work with their state cosmetology board and associations to stop MMA use. Clearly, Nail Spa is on the forefront of education.

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