Kathy Italia stretches out the word “love” when she tells me, “I just looooove to do pedicures.” Since this nail professional is holding my feet at the time, I’m naturally curious what makes her sooooo enamored of this particular service. She explains simply, “Because when you do a pedicure on someone, they looooove you.” Yes, that’s true. I love Kathy Italia.

Kathy works at Creative Hair Design in Omaha, Neb., an unfortunate name if it hinders a potential nail client from trying out one of Kathy’s perfect pedicures or the quite comprehensive list of nail and hand care services the salon offers. But the salon, one of Omaha’s most well-established and popular, has taken advantage of nearly every trend in the beauty business and thrives by knowing not only its customers’ needs, but knowing its staff’s needs as well. From a hydrotherapy room that almost provides sensory deprivation to massage and facial rooms where hot stone therapy and renewal facials are done, the salon has grown by capitalizing on new service ideas.

The salon also has a firm grip on its employees. With an employee-based staff Creative Hair Design boasts low turnover and high morale. And as evidence of team spirit, the day I visited the entire staff was dressed in cowboy get-tips for the annual Rodeo Days celebration. In a personal testimonial of the salon’s great management, Kathy says that her only regret in her nail care career (which she came to after raising a daughter) is that she didn’t start at Creative Hair Design earlier. She unabashedly admits that she loooooves it there, and loooooves the owners of the salon. “They do all sorts of little things that make us feel special,” she says. “Like the owner will write a note on my paycheck that says, “It’s great to have you here’ or Glad you’re back from vacation; we missed you!’ What other bosses do that kind of stuff?” she asks rhetorically.

Kathy joined the salon’s team five years ago when her daughter, a hairdresser, notified her of a job opening. Working together allows them to see each other frequently, and often schedule themselves around child care needs and other such things (like date nights for Kathy, who met the man of her dreams late in life and married just last year). Don’t you just loooove a happy ending?

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