A Mindful Endeavor
When Michael Elliot and his wife Mecca decided to open Namaste Nail Sanctuary, they were both already successful in the industry. Michael had created Hammer & Nails, a nail and barber shop franchise for men, while Mecca had previously operated a salon in Dallas for over a decade. The idea for the Namaste franchise came from Mecca’s experience as a meditation instructor. “We were thinking about how busy women’s lives are,” explains Michael Elliot. “Whether you are a professional woman or a stay-at-home mom, your life is typically chaotic.” Realizing that many women consistently manage to make time for their nail appointments, the couple decided to start a salon that would provide both quality nails and a way to relax and decompress. Namaste offers memberships which give members two or three services per month, plus discounts on additional services and retail.
A Comforting Cocoon
To maintain its soothing atmosphere, the salon limits the number of chairs to eight, with privacy drapes between them creating an intimate space. Fountains provide water sounds, and low lighting and calm music are designed to create a Zen environment. Members can enjoy the salon’s “Cocoon Room,” a space for meditation that has also been used for bridal parties. To reinforce the feeling of a retreat, Namaste is a cell phone-free zone.
The salon’s services were created by Lia Smith, vice president of franchise support. Services are themed around the idea of balance and enlightenment and include natural nails and gel-polish as well as hard gel, hybrid, and acrylic enhancements. “Our services cover all of the enhancements that you can get,” explains Smith. “We wanted to have a really comprehensive menu so we could see women who get enhancements, because they want to relax, too.” To prevent odors from becoming an issue, the salon has installed a three-zone air purification system.
Nail techs go through a rigorous training and have lots of opportunities for continuing education, with trainings in new techniques such as IBX Boost. “One of the words we've always used when we talk about Namaste is “elevate,’” explains Smith. “Elevate people's skills, elevate the experience for the guest, even elevate in the way the space looks. And I was always into continuing education. I wanted to be able to offer training as a benefit for our artisans.”
Ready to Expand
The salon’s first location is on busy Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles’s Studio City area. Foot traffic comes from nearby stores, a Starbucks, and mothers dropping their children off at neighborhood schools. The salon is careful to block out the bustle with frosted glass doors and a discreet back entrance especially appreciated by the salon’s occasional celebrity clients. The owners have plans to expand the franchise rapidly, with five additional Namaste locations currently in the process of construction, and 21 more franchises already sold.
Salon name: Namaste Nail Sanctuary
Location: Los Angeles
Owners: Michael and Mecca Elliot
Square footage: 1,520
Opened: March 2018
Number of nail techs/employees: 13/16
Specialties: Traditional manicures, hard gel and hybrid services, relaxation
Compensation structure: Salary plus bonuses