As businesses continue coping with pandemic, space has become a commodity

Celebrity hair stylist Arend Jackson poses for a photo in front of the Body Spa West Salon Friday Sept. 24, 2021.

For Arend Jackson, a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with stars such as Usher and Jennifer Hudson, renting space at Body Spa Salons on West Charleston Boulevard to operate his business is an easy decision.

“Body Spa’s brand is well-known, we have exposure here as contractors and we have a lot of camaraderie here amongst the contractors,” he said.

Debbie Ritchey, a stylist-turned-businesswoman, brought the Body Spa concept to Southern Nevada in the 1990s. There are now six locations in the Las Vegas area, along with several in California and plans for more in Arizona.

Body Spa Salons

Stylist Julie Dicillo, of Modern Image LV, works on a client at the Body Spa West Salon Friday Sept. 24, 2021. Launch slideshow »

The West Charleston location features 48,000 square feet of space and is home to about 300 workers, who do everything from hair and makeup to nails, acupuncture and massage. They are independent contractors and rent the space from the salon, which the stylists say is a great asset during the pandemic, as some in the industry have stayed away or worked limited shifts during the health crisis.

“When I moved to Las Vegas about 30 years ago, I saw the need for my model,” Ritchey said. “With small businesses, you can create your own environment, which is really important these days. We give people the flexibility and cross marketing they need to grow.”

In many spas and salons, Ritchey said, customer stations are close together, often in confined spaces.

When the COVID-19 pandemic came along, people became much more aware about their personal space. Ritchey said that’s less of a concern at a Body Spa location because of its open floor plans.

At the West Charleston complex, one room leads to another, which might lead down a hallway to a completely different area. Private rooms can also be found for services such as massage or waxing.

“Our stations are very spread apart,” Ritchey said. “I make sure that people have a lot of square feet, regardless of the virus. I think that’s how you need to run a business. A lot of salon owners still line up stations 4 feet apart, which used to be tolerable. That’s different now. I understand that space is expensive and people need to watch their profit margins, but I don’t work only around my profit margins.”

Another thing that has changed over the years in the beauty industry, Ritchey said, is that customers usually aren’t of the walk-in variety. At Body Spa West, only one on-site person, a concierge, is employed by Ritchey. Everything else is handled by the contractors.

“People are going through social media or referrals,” Ritchey said. “We don’t want anything to do with a contractor’s database; we’re about taking care of our customer. Our customers, in turn, can take care of their customers.”

By the end of the year, Ritchey plans to have a dozen Body Spa locations in the Southwest, including one in Newport Beach, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“I’ve never advertised the entire time I’ve been in Nevada,” Ritchey said. “I’ve done everything by reputation. Nobody should be anybody’s leader or boss; people need to understand that we create our world at Body Spa. If they don’t fit into that world, they’ll probably leave anyway.”

Like Jackson, Faye Fabio, a master barber who runs the Fade Factory Barbershop room at Body Spa West, said she was attracted to the hands-off concept for Ritchey is known.

“She’s the best,” Fabio said. “I just have to worry about running my business, the rest is taken care of.”

Jackson said a notable like Usher wouldn’t be expected to come into a salon like Body Spa. That level of celebrity would have a stylist come to them.

Jackson said business—on the celebrity and non-celebrity sides—for his services has been crazy lately.

“As soon as we opened back up after the shutdown in June [of 2020], I just started getting calls,” Jackson said. “People weren’t in a salon for a long time after the pandemic hit. The world has opened back up. The show doesn’t stop.”

Pandemic or no pandemic, Ritchey said there’s one constant that doesn’t seem to change.

“Everybody wants to look good and feel good,” Ritchey said. “That’s where we come in.”