11th Nov 2020

As part of the S2 Shop Local campaign, each week we invite one of our professionals to host a guest blog and share their tips, trick and techniques to successful retail. Kicking off the campaign, from our home city of Leeds, is Laura Costello. 

Salon Name: RagDoll Nails

Location: Leeds City Centre

Owner: Laura Costello 

Business age:

Hey dolls’, I’m Laura Costello and I own Ragdoll Nails; an independent nail salon in the heart of Leeds city centre.

We’ve been open for six years, the last of which we’ve been in our gorgeous new premises, in the historical Thornton’s Arcade; although we sadly haven’t had a chance to enjoy properly since much of this year has been spent in lockdown *sobs*.

We specialise in nail treatments only; hand drawn nail art and ‘Rockstar’ (as we still call it) being our most popular treatments by far - we rarely have clients leave the building with just a plain colour!

Since our work is largely focused on the ‘adorned’ nail, finish is of the highest priority for us. We want our clients to leave feeling amazing, with nails they can’t stop looking at and that will bring in a constant flow of compliments from friends and strangers! Like all hair and beauty services, our aim is to create a finished product for our clients that they will love, delivered via an experience which in itself makes them feel amazing and special. 

However, where we tend to differ from many other salons is one of our main focal points is on aftercare and the health of the natural nail. We spend a lot of time educating our clients on their own nails. We want them to know exactly what we are doing during treatments, why we are doing it, how their natural nails are doing and how they need to look after them going forward. This is something we are militant about and the result of it is clients who listen to us, put our advice into action and trust us, because they know that we care about their nails as much as they do.

Alongside our treatments, we retail home care products, as not only are they imperative to our clients easy to follow aftercare routine, they create a great additional revenue stream which is always helpful, especially now we are currently unable to perform our services. As well as in-salon retail, we have an online shop so clients can still buy what they need even though they can’t get to us. The online store was an absolute no brainer, because a little bit of home care retail is the difference between something and zero on the books at the moment, and helps our clients maintain good nail care at home.

Here are my top tips to retail:

1.Only sell products that are complimentary and/or relevant to your service and brand

We’ve learnt that cluttering up the shelves and website with lip balms and tan doesn’t work; it takes up precious visual space and is less popular because it’s not relevant to your service. Promoting products, you don’t use in-salon can feel like forced and clients will pick up on this.

You want them to be focused on buying the products that will enhance your services and therefore have a better lasting set of nails that will lead them to becoming a regular client! 2-in-1!

2. Make retail part of your appointment

Aftercare is a huge part of our service. We talk about it before, during and after the treatment; explaining what the products are and alerting clients to them when they are being used, for example, we use SolarOil at the end of our treatments so when applying, we’ll explain that ‘this is the SolarOil in our aftercare, this is how you apply it and the benefits of it are…’.

3.Know what you’re selling

This is so important. Clients now more than ever are so clued up (thanks to the internet), and they know if you’re bluffing. Study your products, learn the ingredients and the science behind how it works so that when you’re suggesting it you can honestly tell them why they need it and they will believe you, because you can’t argue with science.

4.Merch, Merch, Merch

  • Clients may not realise you have retail products. Many things we use in appointments are professional use only, so clients won’tassume they can pick one up to take home. Decorate your walls with these beautiful products along with their price list so that clients can see you do.
  • Now that we are lucky enough to have more space, I display our retail products on floating shelves behind our reception desk. This way when clients are waiting to pay for their appointment they can see everything we sell right at that last moment, which is a great way to remind them that ‘hello, we are here, you need us!”; and who can resist point of purchase displays?!
  • Remember to tell them about your online store, in case they run out between appointments or may not live locally.

5.Promote your online business

We’re a nail salon, so people don’t automatically think we’d have an online shop. This is where we have to shout about it. Every time you post a product on social, state it’s available online.

Post when something is out of stock, when it’s back in stock, if it’s new, available in multiple sizes. It may feel repetitive to you but for every person that’s seen it before, there could be a new person who is seeing it for the first time. Plus, it’s a reminder for them to check their home stock levels and at this time of year may set off the spark of the perfect stocking filler!


6.Don’t be scared to switch it up

Before lockdown we didn’t sell much RescueRxx and Cuticle Eraser - we’d stock them, but 99.99% our clients leave with a coating, so can’t use RescueRxx, and come for regular appointments so feel their cuticles are tended to adequately. 

However, when lockdown hit, so did bare nails and untidy cuticles which suddenly meant our clients had a window in which RescueRxx and Cuticle Eraser could be useful. Once we began promoting them our clients fell in love with these ‘new’ products, which was fantastic for sales and also meant that when we re-opened the majority of our clients had super healthy, strong nails for us to work with!

7.Put your money where your mouth is!

I think it’s really important to show clients we are serious about what we are trying to sell them and that means showing them you use it and your results. We use and test everything we use and sell in salon and document everything on our social media. In the first lockdown when we began promoting RescueRXX, I used it on one hand only and photographed the comparison results for Instagram. If you can show a visual of the difference a product will make, it will speak for itself; after all seeing is believing, right?

8.Be social

  • Instagram is by far our most treasured marketing tool. Twitter and Facebook are important also, but Instagram is where we really get the results, so utilise it as best you can.
  • This is where you can shout about and show off everything you do and sell. Social media is a great way to show off your branding, your salon, your work and sneak peeks and teasers of new things to come. It also has such great tools to communicate with your audience such as the polls and Q&A where you can find out what your client base want, their views, their preferences - invaluable information when it comes to your entire business.
  • While we’re in lockdown we still like our clients to know we’re here for them. We have pre-made content ready to release, to help them with their nail queries whether it be our aftercare to prolong their previous set, removal guides, or how to take care of their bare nails, as well as welcoming suggestions of what they want to see/know this time around.

Example of one of my home care social videos: 

As I said previously, we shout about everything on our social media, as we can cover a large amount of our client base on here and can leave information up in the form of highlights on our profile page, so when someone is ready to do a removal - the demo videos are there ready for them, or if they want to see what salon treats we sell online so that they can have a little luxury at home, the ‘shop online’ highlight is ready for them. It makes it easy for clients to find what they need and helps strengthen our salon - client relationship, which is exactly what we need when we’re unable to see them for a month!

We can’t wait to welcome our dolls’ back and to see what nail art ideas have sprung up and how they’re natural nails are looking under their own care! We bet you can’t too - but for now, retail is it!

L x


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