Behind the Scenes: Debbie Krakalovich

Award-winning salon owner Debbie Krakalovich was introduced to the nail industry when she herself was a nail-biting client.

What award-winning salon owner was introduced to the nail industry when she was a nail-biting client?  The answer: Debbie Krakalovich, owner of The Nail Shoppe, a three-salon chain in Toronto.  Krakalovich first had artificial nails applied to her curb biting habit and she quickly became fascinated by the nail business.  Since her province doesn’t require licensing for nails, Krakalovich took a course taught by her technician.  To get her feet wet in the nail industry, she set up a booth at an indoor flea market on weekends.  “I soon realized I was making more money doing nails in three days than in a 40-hour week as secretary,” says the calm, soft-spoken woman who exudes professionalism.  So Krakalovich quit her job to give nails a shot and opened up The Market Salon.  Because of the growing demand for nail services, six months later, in 1983, she and her husband Gary opened their first Nail Shoppe.

Business continued to boom, so the Krakaloviches opened a second location.  But after a couple of years, they realized they had bitten off more than they could chew, so they closed the original Nail Shoppe.  “We jumped into the purchase of the second salon blindly,” says Debbie.  “We didn’t know what it would take to run both salons successfully.”  They regrouped and eventually reopened another location.  Then, in 1996 a third Nail Shoppe was born.

To gain a better insight into the U.S. nail industry, Krakalovich and her husband drove to Las Vegas last November and stayed for a month.  “I wanted to visit salons to see what’s new, and since Las Vegas is continually growing, I was curious to sees how the growth was affecting the nail market, especially competition with discount salons,” she says.  Since the Canadian nail industry is a couple of years behind the U.S., it was almost like having a crystal ball, she says.  “I got some clues about what trends to expect, such as a shift to more natural nail services.”

In response to the increased competition, many of Las Vegas’ moderate-to high-priced salons are trying to include something unique in their nail services and to market that uniqueness, says Debbie.  “To stay competitive, I also think your customer service needs to be exceptional,” says the successful salon owner who definitely practices what she preaches.

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