Central Ohio-based beauty brands The W Nail Bar and Oasis Face Bar are making big moves, sustainably expanding their reach to markets outside of Ohio and across the country.
The W Nail Bar is partnering with Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee to open several locations inside its stores.
Currently, The W is in one Hy-Vee location in Bettendorf, Iowa, but will open three additional locations in September and one in January. The W plans to continue opening stores with the chain, which has more than 240 locations in eight states, through 2022.
“It’s part of their strategic plan for innovation and growth, and we’re included in that,” said Manda Mason, co-founder of The W Nail Bar. “They would like to include it in many, many of their stores going forward.”
The partnership with Hy-Vee was a “perfect match” for Mason and her sister and co-founder Lauren Hunter, whose father owned a grocery store and whose family worked there.
“And that’s why the Hy-Vee partnership works so well because our values are the same and the end goal is the same and so when that happens, it makes things a lot smoother and easier,” said Hunter.
“It’s on-brand for us…and we think that it’s on-brand for them,” said Mason.
From their first business plan, Mason and Hunter knew they wanted to have lots of The W locations. And they’re not just doing that with more Hy-Vee locations – there are four additional standalone locations The W Nail Bar plans to open in the next six months. It’s also not their first partnership with a retail chain. The W Nail Bar operates salons within three DSW locations in Central Ohio, including Easton, Dublin and Polaris.
But Mason does say the first store in the partnership with Hy-Vee was the “easiest store opening” they’ve ever had.
“They’ve been such a great partner and so committed to this partnership,” said Mason. “I feel like we’re really coming into a time where there is less of a cutthroat competition and more of a, ‘How can we help each other?’ which I really love.”
And like The W Nail Bar, it was always the goal for Oasis Face Bar to expand outside of Ohio.
Oasis founder Molly Bower said she didn’t realize her business’ expansion outside of Ohio would come this year.
Oasis is moving one of its Central Ohio locations from Downtown to 1219 N. High St. in the Short North and opening in three new locations in the next two months — another Ohio location in Cleveland, as well as locations in Nashville and Chicago.
Each of those locations was chosen because a friend or previous vendor showed interest — people who have experienced the facial bar and liked the concept, said Bower.
The organic growth of Oasis Face Bar can be attributed to Bower’s unique approach to franchising.
She tries to make the opportunity accessible to “just about” anybody, she said. Sometimes she’ll start up a new location with a future franchisee serving as manager for the first few months to get their feet wet before she hands over the reins and sells the location to them.
“So it takes a lot of the fear out,” she said. “They get a lot more training than they ever would.”
In her approach, she also stays clear of opening in strip malls and allows franchisees to dictate some of the feel of each location.
“No one really even knows about me half the time,” she said. “And that’s okay because the new people coming in and owning these locations are the ones that are present in their communities. And they’re the ones that are building the brand.”
Oasis, in partnership with franchisees, looks for spaces with minimal buildout and does a lot of the additional work themselves. With these latest openings, which have been in progress since earlier this year, they’ve run into issues with permits, finding labor and slow downs relating to the national supply shortages.
The Chicago and Cleveland location should open this September, while the opening for the Nashville location, which will be in a mixed-use development in a rehabbed church, has been pushed back, likely to October.
Looking forward, Bower has eyes on Indianapolis and Austin, where potential franchisees have shown interest, as well as East Coast cities like Boston, Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.
For both brands, strategic and mindful collaboration has been the key to growing their businesses. And that’s clear from the advice they give to business owners.
“Make sure that you’re culturally and morally aligned with whoever you decide to partner with, because it really does matter,” said Hunter.