On a recent visit to Scottsdale to the fairly new Styl Institute (which is also the corporate headquarters of Styling Technology Corp.), NAILS advertising sales rep Michelle Mullen and I treated ourselves to a post-business lunch salon visit. Michelle got a full set of pink and whites put on by Kristine Leonard, director of education, nails, and I got a spa-type pedicure with Erika Luna, who coincidentally does the nails of another publisher at our company. The Styl Institute lives up to its name, with sleek features, hardwood floors that gleam like stainless steel, tiny hanging track lights that give it an industrial feel. The space is wide open, with six hair stations, and a pedicure station, which is situated in a private room with dim lighting. The salon is furnished and stocked with mostly STC products (oh yes, and the pedicure room is equipped with two of those lovely Solace Footspa pedicure chairs that vibrate, whirlpool, and recline).

After a relatively short time doing nails, Erika has soared to the top of her field. She previously worked in a tony Scottsdale salon and was recruited by Styl when the salon opened. Besides serving clients three days a week, she works in the Styling lab three days a week working on product testing and R&D. Since the move to STC, she “couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I was honored that they knew of me and hired me.”

I thought the details of her compensation structure were none of my business, but I did gather that the salon is booth rental, and they have a unique retailing position in that the Styling products are right on site and there’s no “middle man” mark-up.

Erika struck me as extremely calm – serene almost. She told me she credited a new vitamin regimen she was on for helping her lose weight and maintain a calm disposition. Naturally, I wanted more information on those two qualities that elude me personally and she gave me a brochure. Her personal and professional philosophy is that beauty works “from the inside out,” and she takes extreme care to ensure that her clients leave her chair more relaxed, not just beautified, by the experience.

My favorite part of the visit, chatting with Erika aside, was when she handed me a portable CD player to listen to while my feet enjoyed the paraffin wrap. What a great idea! The client right after me (Erika had only pedicures booked this day) had brought in her own CDs to listen to during her service.

I would think if you worked here, you’d be down in the salon every day or bringing your sack lunch to eat in the pedicure spa, but Paula Malloy, vice president of marketing and product development, says that she’s usually too busy to get in that often. Not to mention, the salon stays well-booked with local patrons.

Oh, yeah, Michelle’s nails look absolutely fabulous.

Whenever I have a bad day at work, I remember that I get to visit salons and call it “business.” Here we are at The Styl Institute (interior, above) after a business lunch. (left to right) Paula Malloy, vice president of marketing and product development; Kristine Leonard, director of education, nails; Michelle Mullen, NAILS advertising sales rep; Erika Luna, nail technician and STC product tester; and me.

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