The Ten’s Kelli Coleman on Safely Reopening During the Pandemic

Published June 2020, hourdetroit.com.

No nail polish testing, a cashless policy, and face coverings are among the nail salon’s new protocols

By Emma Klug // Photograph by VISUALSXNIK

After months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Ten reopened its New Center location on June 16. While guests are eager to get back to the nail salon — appointments booked up fast when they started taking reservations again — they won’t be returning to The Ten as it was pre-COVID-19.

Moving forward, like many businesses across the state and country, The Ten is following new protocols to keep customers and staff safe and to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Dividers have been put up at the salon’s nail bar, and one seat must be between all manicurists and guests. Additionally, services are available by appointment only and a temporary cashless policy is in place, guests and staff must wear face coverings, manicurists will wear gloves at all times, temperature checks are being implemented, and nail polish testing is no longer allowed. Children’s services and express manicures and pedicures have also been temporarily removed from The Ten’s offerings.

It’s a new normal for personal-care service, and to get a better understanding of how The Ten is navigating these changes, Hour Detroit recently spoke with Kelli Coleman, co-owner of the nail salon with Anika Jackson. Here’s she talks about connecting with clients to inform The Ten’s PPE strategy, how it felt waiting for approval from the state to reopen, and why they’re holding off on reopening their second location in Capitol Park.

Hour Detroit: When the pandemic first hit in Michigan, what was your reaction as a business owner? 

Kelli Coleman: For my business partner and I, we were just committed to being socially responsible business owners, frankly. While it was obviously not ideal, we even decided to close The Ten a bit before [the state ordered] just to make sure we were protecting our guests and our team. We were thinking less initially about business issues related to the pandemic. We were thinking we don’t want anyone to become sick in our establishment.

Following your closure, The Ten shared posts on Instagram that asked your followers to give feedback about what the business should look like when it reopens. Why was client input important to you? 

The Ten is here for our guests, and honestly, why make it a guessing game when you have built such a strong rapport with those who come and visit you? We wanted to hear first-hand so we could put the proper protocols in place and maybe even have them share something with us that we hadn’t considered. I’m a huge proponent of data-driven marketing, both Anika and I believe in that.

How did you decide what safety measures needed to be implemented? Did the city’s guidance play a role? 

It was a combination of what you mentioned and a few other things. Obviously, city and state mandates, we loved the direct feedback that we received from our guests (and we also did the same thing with our staff), and in addition to that, we really saw ourselves as the customer, like we often do, and [thought] what would make us comfortable in a business where we knew it was contact involved and probably one of the later phases [of reopening]. We tried to consider every step of The Ten experience and make sure we were covered in safety at every touchpoint of our business.

You have a lengthy list of safety requirements you’re now following. No nail polish testing stood out as a big change for a salon. Are there any other updates you think guests will be surprised by?

I think the No. 1 thing that people are going to miss, frankly, is beverage service (laughs). That’s something people have come to look forward to when it comes to The Ten, and we recognize that. But to be safe, we have to suspend beverage service for now. With the no polish testing, again, it’s in the name of safety. We’re happy to have people test polishes at the nail bar with their manicurist after their hands have been sanitized, but the normal ability to come in, touch a bunch of polishes, test them on your fingers, it’s harder for us to manage that in a way that we would feel comfortable with at this time.

Along with your new safety requirements, why also remove children’s services and express manicures and pedicures? 

Really, we’re just being overly cautious as it relates to children, and not wanting children to be in the space and around others because they may not be as diligent about personal protection or certain precautions. We wanted to avoid any issues there and keep kids safe as well as other guests. As it relates to express services, we are really taking our time — as we always have — doubling down on sanitizing and sanitization of hands. With all the steps that we’re taking within a service, an express service wasn’t conducive, which is why we removed that.

How do you plan to enforce your protocols? 

We are all about education and information with anyone who books an appointment and is planning to come through our doors. We will have signage that reads very clearly, and I’m thankful to have a staff that’s committed to enforcing a lot of these requirements. For us, it’s just that the team is all on the same page about needing people to adhere to this. If people are not comfortable adhering to those standards then we can’t say that we’re comfortable servicing them. From what we observed and learned thus far, honestly, the vast majority of people are so appreciative that we are taking these cautions and considerations.

How do you imagine these requirements will evolve? 

We are using the state as our guide in a lot of instances. Quite frankly, as long as the virus exists and there is no vaccination or cure, we are going to see a new normal, especially as it relates to these contact services. Depending on what the state says and how things evolve, maybe some things will be less stringent at some point, but I do believe that there is going to be some level of PPE and precautions that we take now that we didn’t pre-coronavirus.

How has it felt waiting for approval to reopen? 

We were a bit anxious, honestly. But to be candid, I was someone who preferred that our governor air on the side of caution and so, for me, while we were hoping every date that she gave wouldn’t be extended, we just trusted that there was a reason why it was being extended. Ultimately, we were fine with waiting as long as we needed to open safely. You get a little bit anxious, but we were working on our pivot strategy and riding it out.

Was there any hesitancy with reopening when the state allowed? 

We did have some conversation about it and we were just trying to determine if other people feel comfortable coming to see us. That was a part of that guest feedback and understanding how others were feeling right now and what would be their threshold as far as time that it would take to come back to a personal beauty service. Based on that feedback and some other things, we felt confident about opening when the state suggested.

How does it feel to be able to offer communal self-care again? 

If we wanted to be at home doing it ourselves, I wouldn’t be in business. Everyone is really excited and happy to be able to add that social element back into personal care. While it’s not going to be exactly the same as it was, I do know that people will feel just as pampered and it will be an escape and fun times for them.

Why reopen New Center before Capitol Park, and when do you expect both locations to be open? 

We don’t have a final date for both locations, but the rationale in opening one before the other is to dip our toe in, assess, and be informed before we potentially take on more than what is necessary or appropriate at this time. It’s for us to properly manage and navigate this unprecedented time in a way that is a bit more strategic. We’re gunning to get Capitol Park back open as soon a possible. These next few weeks back open will be telling for when that can happen.

The Ten is currently hiring and taking appointments for its New Center location. For more information, visit thetennailbar.com

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