Polish Salon and Spa
In the fall of 2017, Dianna Cairns will see the ultimate realization of all her hard work, perseverance, planning and patience as Polish Salon and Spa opens spacious and elegant new location on Bell Boulevard in Belleville.
Cairns has been striving to build the business and open a facility that is large enough to meet growing demand for Polish’s services, as well as expand the offerings available to residents looking to both look and feel their best.
“Accessibility has always been a concern at my current location [324 North Front Street] and I also struggle with not having enough parking when I am busy, so for those reasons, and also because there are exciting new things that I want to add, I have invested in a new site and am excited to open as soon as possible,” said Cairns, who has owned and operated Polish for eight years.
Prior to that she owned a couple of tanning salons, one in Belleville and one in Trenton. Although a trained nurse, she decided to become a business owner after she was offered a generous buy-out from her job at the time.
“I originally was a registered nurse way back in the day but there were no jobs in Ontario at the time and I ended up getting a job at Proctor & Gamble. I was there for a little over three years and they were downsizing. I was pregnant with my fourth baby so my ex-husband and I decided we’d take a package and open up a business. What I wanted to do was open a spa that had tanning in it. I went to the Palm Beach company, who was just starting to franchise at the time. They had a really great business model so we put the spa idea on the back burner. Fifteen years ago, that sort of business was a licence to print money. We opened up three of them in four years, but then the issue became political and the government got involved in the tanning business and at that time I wanted to diversify,” Cairns said, adding that by this time she and her husband had split and she kept the two Palm Beach locations and used to profits to open Polish.
Thinking things would run as smoothly as with the tanning business, Cairns said she got a little too ambitious, creating what she called her ‘Taj Mahal’ sinking in way too much money and finding herself quickly struggling. She was able to stay afloat for a while after selling her tanning franchises back to her ex-husband, but it took some friendly and timely assistance from salon and spa industry experts to get her into a position where Polish could grow and thrive.
“I met some great people who really had my back and changed the trajectory of everything. They helped me with the landlord, with the location and with putting together a more reasonable business plan. I believe if I would have met these people before opening Polish I would not have been in the position I was, but once things were on track we increased business by more than 20 per cent every year for the last six years. I was definitely behind the 8-ball though. My pension and all the savings I had with my previous business are now all gone. I have to tell you, though, I am a really good spokesperson for people who feel like they can’t get out of a bind. They actually can, if they’re not afraid to ask for – and accept – help. It’s been a challenge, but I love it.”
Polish offers a comprehensive suite of services for women and an increasing number of men, and Cairns has worked to make sure that there is something for every budget on her salon and spa menus.
“We do everything from hair colour, haircuts, pedicures, manicures, facials, body treatments, and waxing. We also do medi-spa treatment so things like Laser Genesis, laser hair removal, Botox, fillers and medical facials, and cellulite reduction,” she said.
“And the nice thing is that it doesn’t matter what financial background you come from, you can still afford to come to Polish. We can still cater to the people with the six-figure income but we can also cater to the people who are making $30,000, and they can still feel special and still feel included. More men have been coming in as time has gone on. And we love men because men are loyal. If they find something the like they don’t leave it, even if it’s a few dollars more.”
Word of mouth and an ambitious referral program have helped to steadily build the clientele for Polish, with folks getting a $20 credit for each person they refer to Polish, and that person gets $20 off their first service. Theoretically, Cairns said if someone is really good at referrals they could end up getting some of their own services for free.
“I am also out in the community a lot. We’re involved in Relay For Life, Information Quinte, and the Dancing With the Stars event. We have supported Belleville General Hospital and Trenton Memorial Hospital and I am also the treasurer for the Wheelchair for Hope organization. Children’s Wish is also an organization that is near and dear to my heart, so I think people see me out in the community and connect me with Polish,” Cairns said.
At present there are 25 employees at Polish, with plans to more than double that down the road, once the new facility is built and builds up a bigger client base. One of the most ambitious plans for the new Polish is the addition of a licenced lounge.
“If you’re getting your colour done you could be there for three hours, so we’re going to offer the option of licenced beverages and what we are going to call a boxed lunch. And we won’t have to handle the food at all, it comes already boxed up and clients will be able to order a protein plate or a fruit bowl – something to tide them over while they’re sitting there,” Cairns explained, adding that it will also mean many more chances to accommodate groups, be they wedding parties or corporate team-building events.
“It’s going to be a place where companies can interact with their staff and have a staff appreciation, so they can all be hanging out having fun in the lounge and come and get them for whatever services they have signed up for. It’s a great way to get people who might not otherwise come in to see what we have to offer. And we’re going to be working with local wineries and local craft breweries, as well as get out food locally – we want to support as many local businesses as possible.”
The Trenval Business Development Corporation played a huge role in helping Cairns realize the goal of the new building for Polish, coming in at the 11th hour to finance the project after a bank loan fell through.
“I sat with the panel and explained my business plan and they were wonderful. They helped me with a grant, they have helped me with the repayment process for the financing so we can get started by just paying the interest for the first little while. They were so kind and they believed in me. And what I like about Trenval is they are community people; they understand the potential of my business and why it needs to move. Whereas for somebody in a bank tower in Toronto, all I am is a number to them. I can say to anybody in business they need to go to Trenval. They’re amazing,” she said.
“And I never really knew much about them. I even said from the beginning that my impression of them was that they were the place you went when everybody else has denied you money – that’s just what the stigma was. When I actually went in and started to learn more about it, it’s like why wouldn’t you go to them at the start? They are wonderful people, they are kind they are understanding they are honest and they really want you to succeed.”
For more information on the products and services offered by Polish Salon and Spa, or to keep tabs on the new building and the timing of its grand opening, visit www.polishsalonspa.