By Julia Marchionda
From humble beginnings on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West, THE TEN SPOT has grown to become North America’s largest and most successful multi-service beauty bar, and it has set its sights on further rapid expansion. Kristen Gale, Founder and CEO, was inspired to create a nail salon that was a happy medium between your neighbourhood nail salon and an ultra-fancy spa environment.
Gale lived above a nail salon in New York that left something to be desired when it came to guest experience -- the salon was not the ‘nicest’ or ‘most welcoming’ environment and she found the whole experience to be utilitarian.
When she returned to Toronto, Gale found her first THE TEN SPOT location and the rest is history. Gale’s vision was to create an open environment and to remove the barriers of traditional manicure and pedicure stations. The stations were replaced with banquet seating, allowing for easier conversation amongst guests and staff. It was very important that the experience be unique.
Gale believes that guest experience is one of the main takeaways after a visit to THE TEN SPOT. She explained that if you can get the same “product” anywhere else, all you have is the experience to differentiate you in a saturated market. THE TEN SPOT made delivering on guest experience their purpose with the goal of making every guest “feel like a 10”.
Over the course of 13 years, THE TEN SPOT has grown tremendously with a combination of corporately owned stores and franchised locations. Gale quickly learned that franchising would be a much bigger undertaking than she expected.
She shifted her perception of her franchise partners to being “internal guests” and strives to provide her partners with the same top-tier guest experience they all aim to deliver to their “external” guests. Gale and her team worked on developing manuals, policy and procedure, and protocol to ensure their franchise partners would be set up for success and able to access support from the corporate team.
Currently, THE TEN SPOT operates 28 locations across Canada with six more opening over the next few months. Gale shared that the company is expected to double its footprint over the next 2-3 years with 55 franchise agreement locations in the works. THE TEN SPOT has locations across Canada and is focusing its attention on developing the Central Canadian market.
The company continues to work with Braden Halpin of brokerage, Oberfeld Snowcap as THE TEN SPOT expands that ‘10-like feeling’ across the country. Gale is planning to launch her brand in the United States in the next year, with intentions of a full international expansion in the next 4 – 5 years.
One will typically find their local THE TEN SPOT living on their city’s busiest and most popular streets, creating the perfect storm for a “Treat. Yo.Self” day that could include a facial or mani/pedi after brunch with your best friends. Locations usually span 1200 – 1500 square feet, or 1000 – 1200 square feet if it includes a basement level.
In suburban markets, THE TEN SPOT can be found in higher end lifestyle centres. The company does not have any locations in malls (yet), but they opened a beautiful location in conjunction with the Hudson’s Bay on Toronto’s Queen Street West… not too far away from the inaugural beauty bar. Given the shift towards experiential retail we are observing, it may not be long before we see THE TEN SPOT open up in our local malls.
One of THE TEN SPOT’s newest extensions is its own line of products. The line currently consists of: hand wash, hand cream, body lotion, scrub, and soak – all of which are used in services performed at the beauty bar. Guests who love the products used during their treatment are able to bring home one or all of the available items. In future, Gale would like to explore expanding their range of products to include facial and skincare products.
Drybar, a popular blow-dry concept based in California sells a private-labelled selection of hair products and tools it uses in its salons. Drybar products are also available for sale in Sephora so there could be an opportunity for THE TEN SPOT’s products to be sold to the masses via a major distribution channel.
As the concept evolves, so does THE TEN SPOT’s offerings. Just as Gale opened up the market for the mid-range aesthetic and nail services, she is now doing the same for laser treatments. THE TEN SPOT team has sourced an amazing laser device that took a year of research before they determined it was the right fit.
When it comes to adding services, Gale is focused on non-fad services which often have maintenance cycles of 4 – 6 weeks. By offering laser, the company is able to provide a sought-after service that is not quite as intimidating as going to the dermatologist’s office, but more formal than a typical salon.
THE TEN SPOT has carved out a niche for itself in the beauty services world, opening up a whole new world of possibilities in the mid-range price point. Gale and her team have created a new environment for women and men alike to experience their favourite beauty rituals from coast to coast. Their impending expansion will surely have many Canadians ‘feeling like a 10’ on a regular basis.
Retail expert and consultant, Julia Marchionda, is a graduate from both the University of Toronto and Humber College. She spent most of her educational career honing her skills in critical thinking, marketing communications, and finding her unique voice in her writing. With tenures in several areas of retail under her belt, Julia has lead teams in achieving sales goals and allowed herself to become consumed in understanding retail business.