For this edition of The Business Corner, I interviewed Naeemah Johnson, owner of Nbeauty Salon, who has significantly grown her business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is excerpts from our interview:
When did you start the company?
I started the business in 2009.
What was your mission at the beginning?
We started with a customer-first focus. My mother had a salon at the same location for 10 years. She had a staff that stayed with her for the majority of their career, which was over 10 years. I started the business after some staff relocated and others retired from this career. I created a name, grew a staff and here I am.
How many locations do you have?
Nbeauty has two locations, East Falls (3933 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19132) and Ardmore (6 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003). Our new location in Ardmore opened this past month during the pandemic.
At each location, how many stylists or other staff do you have on your team?
I have a team of seven, and we work at both locations.
What type of challenges has the pandemic caused your business?
Due to COVID-19, we had to close for three months. That’s three months loss of sales revenue and income. Reopening, we are focusing on gaining our clients trust that we will operate in a manner as safely as possible with proper precautions.
Also, orders from the governor’s office limited our operations to a certain number of clients per day and limit the time, and activities, we can provide to clients. The order doesn’t allow us to have a waiting area or provide magazines for reading while you wait.
The experience is not the same. They want clients to come in, get service, and go home.
How have you been able to overcome issues caused by the pandemic?
Thankfully the salon is already setup with individual styling stations. I also took advantage of the three months we were closed. I did a renovation. I painted, replaced the floors, and opened a lower level to add more privacy rooms. That has made more people feel comfortable coming back to our salon.
Also, just making NBeauty available for online bookings so that clients can easily make appointments. That was a big thing. We were already doing it, but with COVID-19 there was a surge of people looking for new stylists, so that worked out very well.
Have you introduced new products and/or services during the pandemic?
The skincare line was launched, and I decided to go ahead and complete testing and development with our laboratory.
We now have an anti-aging cleanser, a blemish control cleanser, and a masking kit. We also have a toner with cucumber sage and rosemary in it.
We also have a detoxifying mask, which will draw all of the impurities out of your skin, without leaving it dried out. We also have an electronic facial brush to really cleanse your skin.
Tell me about the new location in Ardmore.
I am in the middle of a development on Ridge Avenue, but I didn’t have commercial zoning for the additional space. I was able to take advantage of an opportunity to expand in Ardmore on the Main Line.
What sets NBeauty apart from its competitors?
I would definitely say we offer high quality customer service by making our customers feel welcome. We also have exclusive products for your hair and skin, that no one else has at their salon.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
I would suggest doing research and becoming an expert in the field you want to be in. Definitely reach out to other people who are doing it. Find people that are good in your field who can help you grow.
If you are operating any customer facing business, don’t try to do everything yourself. If you try to do everything, it will lead to being unproductive.
What are your business goals for the next 3-5 years?
We are going to redevelop the East Falls location. I am very excited to bring something even better back to the neighborhood. East Falls will be our flagship location.
We will also expand our product line by adding a men’s brand. I’m certainly looking forward to having some time to focus on that particular opportunity in the market. Finally, I am looking forward to getting more involved in education and creating opportunities for stylists and people who want to be in this industry.
How important has work ethic been for your success?
It has been extremely important. Without work ethic, I don’t believe I would have been able to open a second location. You need to work hard to be able to grow. I am definitely a hands-on owner. I have added days and taken additional clients to be able to grow. There is no position in the company that I am not willing to do to enable us to grow – that’s the true definition of being an entrepreneur.
How can people connect with NBeauty?