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Stylists embrace growing market

Mike Skvorzov had been in the gaming industry for 20 years when his employer was acquired and he was laid off last year. His wife, Amanda, is a seasoned nail technician in a popular nail salon but was ready to move out on her own.

Despite the adversity, the couple decided to take destiny into their own hands and this month opened a beauty complex for salon professionals.

When they started thinking about buying a franchise, there were two major chains, Studio Salons with five locations, and Sola Salon Studios with six locations in the valley. The couple approached Sola about a franchise opportunity, but the company did not want to open another location in Las Vegas. That is when they found a franchise called My Salon Suite.

The franchise fee for a My Salon Suite varies depending upon the market. For Las Vegas, it is about $50,000 with a 5 percent annual royalty. The build-out of the facility can cost between $250,000 and $1 million depending on the number of suites and the fluctuation in construction costs.

The Skvorzovs spent in excess of $600,000 renovating a 6,000-square-foot retail space in the Silverado Ranch Place shopping center at 9850 S. Maryland Parkway to create 31 state-of-the-art salon suites.

Each suite comes standard with chairs, cabinetry and everything needed for the professional to perform their service. Lessees are allowed to paint and decorate their suite according to their needs and taste.

The building is energy efficient, with lights and power that automatically shut off after 20 minutes of nonactivity along with tankless water heaters and coin-operated washers and dryers. A security camera system allows the suite operator to see who is at the front door before buzzing them into the building.

The suites come in single and double and are specially equipped for hair styling with shampoo, color and cutting stations, nail technician suites with manicure and pedicure stations, and spa suites with massage bed and treatment tables. The leasing rates for a suite at My Salon Suite range from $285 to $575 per week.

“This is really an upscale beauty complex,” said Ken McAllister, owner of the My Salon Suite franchise. “When we first started in 2010, there were about 200 suite operations around the country. Now there are between 800 and 1,000, and we see the growth to between 3,000 and 5,000 suite operations nationally.”

The Skvorzovs plans to open three locations and are looking at the Summerlin area next. McAllister thinks that the Las Vegas market can support between 30 and 40 suite operations and expects his franchise to have between six and 12 locations in the Las Vegas Valley within the next five years.

The reason for McAllister’s optimism stems from the fact personal grooming is one of the few professions that cannot be replaced by a computer or automated machine. There’s a recurring need for hair stylists, nail technicians, pedicurists, massage specialists and a few others in the health and beauty profession. And with the growing population in Nevada, there will be more of these professionals needed.

The Nevada State Board of Cosmetology does not keep records as to how many students graduate each year. However, there are nine cosmetology schools in Southern Nevada of which the Academy of Hair Design is the oldest and largest. Carol Garrett, manager and financial aid director of the school, said that on average 110 students graduate from that school each year specializing in hair design, nail technology, cosmetology and aesthetics.

“Typically, when a student graduates from cosmetology school, they join one of the national chains to get real world experience,” said Garrett.

Vanessa Zuniga illustrates the point. “When I graduated from a California cosmetology school in 1992,” she recalled, “I had only completed one haircut. I joined Supercuts because they had a two-week training program that not only gave you experience but also trained you in specific cutting methods.”

Zuniga moved to Las Vegas in 2002 and worked her way up to the position of store manager.

“While I am grateful for the experience and training I received from Supercuts, I knew that I needed to move out and have my own business.”

In 2011, Zuniga rented a salon suite at Scandals Salon and Day Spa on Fort Apache and Flamingo, and her business has grown.

Cosmetologists, nail technicians and massage specialists who decide to go into business for themselves wrestle with the mix of challenges facing any small business owner, including applying for a business license and tax ID number.

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