Femme Friday: Molly Reckman
Spruce Nail Shop owner, Molly Reckman, is goals when it comes to being a female entrepreneur and living out your dream. She boldly has created a forward-thinking culture that is propelling the non-toxic side of the beauty industry into the future. I had the pleasure of visiting her shop on a trip home to Cincinnati, back in March and it was just as fantastic (maybe more) as it looks to be from the outside. She has built a beautiful realm of good vibes and "good clean fun", as they say, to enjoy some self care in a 'clean' way. The shop is filled with beautiful plants, clean white displays, happy staff and a sweet, NON-OVERPOWERING aroma of in-house created beauty potions alongside non-toxic polishes. It's bliss. And we have Molly to thank for this incredibleness. Enjoy some of her experience, insight and hopes for the industry in the Q+A below.
1. How long have you been in the beauty industry?
I'm new to this industry, as I got my license while researching and prepping to open Spruce. I have always done my friends nails growing up, but I come from an art background. I would always create these crazy designs on my friends nails growing up, and all through high school and college. I loved it so much, but honestly thought there wasn't a place for me in this industry. I had no interest in working in a nail salon with all of the harsh chemicals and fumes, so I just did it more for fun. Then I realized why not create a safe place where we can have fun with art, and still maintain a clean and healthy environment? This is when the idea for Spruce started to come to fruition. When I moved back to Cincinnati 4 years ago there wasn't a nail salon in OTR, or downtown really. I asked around where people in the neighborhood went, and they all drove and immediately shared a not so great experience. That's when I decided it was the right time to bring this idea to life.
2. Have you always worked in natural/non-toxic salons?
This is the first and only salon I have worked at.
3.What prompted you towards working in non-toxic beauty?
It seemed like the only option really. There has been a massive shift in this industry, and its only the start. There's so much work to be done, and I'm excited that people are starting to ask the questions "what's this doing to my body?", "why does this manicure only cost $10?", "how is this employee being paid?", and "is there a safer alternative?"
4. In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit to using non-toxic beauty products?
Health and sustainability. For so long we have been under the assumption that "beauty is pain". We've all said it or heard someone say it, and its simply not the case anymore. You don't need to cause harm to your body to look and feel good.
5. What struggles did you have to overcome in launching your business?
There were a lot, and there still are struggles. As prepared as you think you are to open a business, there will still be things that come up where you have to just learn as you go. Launching your own business can be tough because at the end of the day, you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into something you believe in; and it's the most scary and vulnerable thing to open the doors and flip that sign for the first time. I knew we were opening something different than what people were used to for this industry, and there was a chance that people wouldn't be into it (people do love their acrylics and Shellac), but we stayed true to our mission and I believe it has paid off in the end. Not everyone will like what we do, and thats okay. Accepting that you can't make everyone happy, that was probably my biggest struggle I had to overcome during this process.
6. How do you build morale within your team?
Morale is such an important thing to build as a business. Our clients are important to us, but a thriving business starts from within, and if our employees aren't happy, our clients will feel it immediately.
We do several things to make sure we are all on the same page at Spruce.
1.) Constant Communication - We use the Slack App to keep our staff updated and on the same page. We have a different channel for each job (Coordinators, tech assistant, nail techs, and managers), and a general one for the entire staff. We share reminders and scheduling issues, but we also are sure to always share positive experiences, show off fun nail art we've done, send out positive reviews from our clients, etc. This keeps us with constant reminders of why we do what we do, and that we get to brighten people's day. A lot of people don't get to say they do that for their job.
2.) Skill Sharpening Nights - We do this with our nail techs to gather everyone together, have some dinner, and go over new procedures, systems, and techniques. It keeps us all on the same page to ensure that each client is getting the same service, no matter who you see. This is always lead by Meagan Whitfield, the manager at Spruce, and one of the most talented and skilled people I know.
3.) Staff outings - We have these several times a year with various activities from bowling, to a lake day. It's important to get together outside of work to have fun and relax. We are always busy at Spruce, and this gives us a chance to slow down and get to know each other a little better.
4.) Positive Visuals - This is something we will usually have hanging in the break room or outside the dispensary in the back. We are 100% female operated, and there are a lot of strong and motivated women working together. We like to encourage this in each other, and point out the positives we see in each other. The most recent one we did was we sent the phrase "What I love about _______" to each person in the staff with a list of everyones name. Each person wrote what they loved about everyone they worked with and we created a list of what others said under each employee. It's so fun to see someone smile when they see what each of their coworkers love about working with them.
7. What is your favorite nail polish brand?
Thats a tough one for me because I love all of our brands. They are all 5Free or more (which means they are free of the five most harsh toxins in polish - formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, and camphor). They are all also free of TPHP, gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. Cruelty-free is a big one for me. Its shocking to see the amount of beauty labels that test on animals.
However, right now I am really loving our newest polish brand JRJ. Its a local company from Columbus, and her polishes are absolutely amazing! We're working on a fun new project with them right now that I'm pretty excited about.
8. Who inspires you?
There are a lot of people who inspire me daily; our team at Spruce never fails to keep me wanting more for us, and pushing us to grow. They are some of the most motivated and hard-working women I have ever met. However, my parents would have to be first on that list. My dad instilled a strong work ethic in me and my brothers at a young age. He started his own company at the age of 22, and has worked everyday since. He is extremely driven and decisive, but family is his first priority always, and I really admire him for that. My mom is one of the strongest people I know with the biggest heart. She has always made it her mission to keep our family healthy, happy, and close. Seeing my parents strong marriage (over 40 years) really inspires me. We were raised with an entrepreneurial mind set, so my dad always had us coming up with new businesses and side jobs to keep us motivated. I have kept all of the business cards that I've had over the years, from jewelry making as a kid, painting pet portraits, free lance painting, a woodworking company called 'the cedar studio', and more. Fear of failure has never really been in my dad's vocabulary, and I think thats one of my favorite things about him.
9. If you could change anything about the beauty industry what would it be?
It's been so encouraging to see where this industry is going, and that there are lots of others out there who are committed to seeing this change. However, there's still a lot of work to be done. There are many things I would change about this industry, but I would have to say there are two things that are at the top of my list currently:
1.) Treatment of salon employees in the industry, and I use the term 'employee' loosely. There have been shocking evidence that has come out about the way salon workers have been treated. The New York Times Expose "the Price of Nice Nails" (link below) did a great job of bringing this issue to light. Many workers are not paid a proper wage, they have to pay for their training, pay is docked at the slightest mistake, their tips are taken away, and they are not given breaks. And even worse, sex trafficking through nail salons is a common occurrence. So much so, that in order to have your license renewed with the state of Ohio you must take a course in sex trafficking including what to look for. We have partnered with the "Handle with Care Act' and display the sticker in our window proudly stating that this is a safe place for employees, and that all are paid a fair and ethical wage.
2.) Testing on animals. These animals are abused, mutilated, and killed all for the sake of a new mascara. This practice is unfortunately still done widely in the beauty industry, and it is simply not needed. All of the brands we partner with are committed to using only vegan and cruelty free products. You can look at products to find the Leaping Bunny Logo, which is a widely used cruelty-free symbol.
10. What is next for Spruce Nail Shop?
I am so excited about what is next to come for us! We're not stopping where we're at, we've got some plans. I am so lucky to work with the most amazing staff, that the next couple of months are really going to allow me to start moving on to our next phase for the business. I don't think this will be the traditional step that most people expect us to go, but I think our clients will be really excited about this next phase.
SPRUCE NAIL SHOP
shop: 1235 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45202