About a month ago I sat down with Jessica Nygaard for an interview. Jess is the owner and lead stylist at Hidden Beauty Salon and Spa on Main Street in Tioga, North Dakota. I was planning on posting this earlier but life got real busy real fast! See how my husband lost his sternum last month here. Hidden Beauty formally located across the street as Shear Image is one of the newest businesses leading the revival of downtown Tioga. Jess is a Tioga native. She runs the salon in the building that was formerly home to the Sportsman’s Cafe. Her mom, Kim, and sister, Ashley, run the flower shop, Dragonfly Floral, out of the same building. I also had sat down and interviewed them a few months back you can read their interview here.
How did you get into doing hair?
It started when I was in high school. When I was a sophomore I started cutting my friend’s hair, and then I did hair for prom, and braids for sports. I think I really got into it when my grandma became a hairstylist, because I was having out with her at the salon a lot, and that’s what got me interested in it.
I graduated high school in the spring of 2002, and I’ve been doing hair since the fall of 2002. I have taken a couple of years off but I always figured I would come back to it.
I was in Grand Forks for about 5 years, and then in Minneapolis for a couple of years. I moved back to Tioga in 2009. I was planning on just staying for the summer but I ended up meeting my husband.
Are you glad you have stayed in Tioga doing hair?
100% yes! I would say if you had asked me if I wanted to end up here in Tioga I would have said ‘heck no’ but now that I’m here with my family, I absolutely love raising my kids in a small town.
What made you want to transition from working in a salon to owning a salon?
I think mostly it was just the opportunity came up. It came a lot faster then I thought it would. When Kristi asked me if I wanted to buy it I was like absolutely! Again I think it goes back to my grandma, she owned her own salon and I’ve always dreamed of having my own place. It was something that was certainly something that was just meant to be and fell together.
I wasn’t expecting to move into such a bigger place so fast either!
What was the transition like moving into the new building?
That was nuts, it was really stressful. Between managing all the contractors, and getting the financial part of it all in line was really really hard. It was a big step, but we are so happy we made it. We have such an amazing crew and they all help out so much, we are like one big family!
How many employees do you have?
We have 9 girls total who make up the Hidden Beauty crew. We have 6 hair stylists, 4 girls who can do nails, a massage therapist, and an esthetician.
Since you guys have moved into the new building you have rebranded and expanded your services with the massages, and facials, do you have any other plans on expanding in the next 3-5 years?
Yes! We have the tanning, the red light therapy, we are hoping to get spray tanning. I have a couple of girls who want to get into micro blading, and another girl who wants to get into eyelash extensions. There are so many things you can do with the spa, it is just making sure you have the room for all of it.
We would really like to be able to have a massage therapist on the main level for the people who can’t go downstairs. Its been a bit of a struggle having to do some of the services downstairs. Sometimes it can get a little loud down there because we are just so busy up here and have so many people walking around.
I hope that someday we will be able to add off the back of the salon and move some of the massage rooms back there. There would be so many people who can’t make it down that stairs who would benefit from us expanding that way!
Have you guys looked into doing the float pods?
Yes! The float pods were one of the things we wanted to do right away, but they are pretty expensive. Hopefully, if we are able to add on to the back, that is definitely one of the things we would add! We actually had a room picked out downstairs for it, but we ended up needing that space for inventory for the flower shop and us. I can’t believe how fast we filled up this huge building!
What do you think has been your biggest impact in expanding your services into the spa for Tioga?
It just seems like its been going so well, having all of these services local. I mean who wants to drive an hour to get a massage and then have to drive home an hour. You get so relaxed and tired after a good massage, that you don’t really get to completely relax if you know you are going to have to drive that far after it!
So tell me a bit about the Red Light Therapy.
It’s basically like a tanning bed without the UV rays. The bulbs are actually red. Its a red LED bed. It looks just like a tanning bed, the only difference is the red bulbs. It still warms up.
There are so many things it helps with, skin conditions, acne, acne scars, eczema, Sorosis, cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles. Plus its really good for your muscles and your tissue. A lot of doctors are starting to prescribe it to patients who have had cancer, or chemo. It also somewhat of an alternative to having to take pain meds too. We have a lot of people with rheumatoid arthritis, fiber mileage, back and neck injuries. They are even some studies showing its good for migraines and hair loss. It has so many amazing benefits!
We are already starting to hear really good things about it from our own clients, and we just started it on Monday. (interview was on Friday!) We actually just had a lady call and ask if this was really happening because she’s already seeing results, which is amazing! Usually, it takes about 5 times before you start to see significant results, its something you have to do continuously. You have to go every week.
We are doing a very good package deal to get people started and make sure it is affordable! We are also looking to start working with insurances because if doctors are going to refer patients to us we want to be able to work with insurance companies. This is another service we would like to move upstairs too eventually so even more clients could access it!
You’ll have to put a little chairlift in!
We actually looked into it! We looked at putting in an elevator, or a little chairlift. We trying to decide how many people will actually use the services downstairs first. Honestly, though I think it would be better if we could add on out the back.
Looks like you have almost outgrown this building already!
We really have! We are moving this office downstairs and then this will be the closet for all of the vases, and then we have so many girls working that when its time for a break it’s like where do you go? But we will make it work!
What types of clientele do you guys serve?
We really serve everyone from one-year-olds getting their first haircut, to older people who are taking advantage of more of our spa services, especially the nails. We have some ladies that come in twice a week to get their hair done. I had one lady tell me she would not leave her house if it wasn’t for us. She just loves coming in and that is her treat to herself!
It seems like you guys really promote self-care.
We are actually a healing center, its called Lanza Healing Center. We are one of the top Lanza Healing Centers in North Dakota. There are actually 50 healing centers in the United States and we are one of them!
Where did you get the inspiration for the name Hidden Beauty?
Oh man! It took me forever to come up with it, and actually, it was something I saw in a picture. It was painted on a cement wall, and it was black with big white letters and it said hidden beauty. I think everyone has beauty sometimes it’s on the inside sometimes it’s on the outside. But we want to make them feel good on the outside just as good as on the inside.
So that was the first name I came up with, then I went through almost 30 other names but then I went back to Hidden Beauty. We really want to be making people feel good. I mean we get a lot of people who come in who are just not having a good day, or they aren’t feeling good, or they are just sad. there is a saying look good feel better. Give yourself a little extra time you’re going to feel better. You have to treat yourself.
Chelsy: I totally agree, I know for myself last year I came in between Justin, my husband, surgeries and it was the first time in months where I had done something for myself. And it was so nice to be able to just not have to worry about hospital stuff, I got to feel like a human for a second.
Jess: Yeah it’s really cool to just be able to help people and not just the superficial stuff. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to grab Kleenex. I’m so glad we are able to be there for our clients like that too. A lot of times we have girls who come in who are new to town and just don’t have anyone else to talk to. I’ve made a lot of friends.
What are some of your busiest seasons for you guys?
Usually its right before the holiday times, people want to come in and get ready! Our biggest month was December which was awesome. Our chairs weren’t full 100% of the time, but we had a lot of people coming in for gift cards and gifts for others.
Are gift card sales picking up?
Yes! We never use to sell very many, but now with the spa services, we are seeing a lot of people buy gift cards for anniversaries, holidays and birthdays.
We are also hoping to start working with the flower shop to do some specials for combining our services for gifts, so we are really excited about that possibility!
So talking about the flower shop what has been the best part of sharing a roof with them?
I’d say the cool thing about it is being able to see my mom and sister every day. Honestly, I was a little worried about that right away, but it has been really good! It’s nice to have each other!
What has been that hardest thing about working with family so close?
I’d have to say it there is something with our kids. Usually if one of my kids are sick I would have called my mom or my sister, but now its like shoot, they have to go to work too! I know it the same for Ashley too!
It hasn’t happened yet but I know it’s going to when we all go on a family vacation! It’s gonna be tough we are a pretty tight-knit family, we take a lot of family vacations, are we going to have enough people to cover us all?
What has been most rewarding thing being a mom and an enrapture?
I’d say the flexibility right now because I have enough girls. I’m in a transition right now where I’m not working as much behind the chair and starting to take on more of a management role. I’m also going to learning the flower shop as well. I’ll only be working one evening a week. So I can be home to help with homework, and just be a mom.
What has been the most challenging thing of running a business and being a mom?
Just having to take care of everything! Things like ordering stuff, or if someone needs the day off or calls in sick. There’s a lot, and we grew fast! We went from just a couple of us to almost 10. It’s definitely a balancing act of trying to stay home with my family and then also taking care of my work family. But I’m trying to stay home more with my kids, because their still so little!
How old are your kids now?
They are 7, 4, and 3. So first grade, kindergarten next year, and then Chloe will be in her second year of preschool.
What have been some of biggest struggles you have found from a business managing standpoint?
I think the biggest thing for me has been that I worry about everyone else. I want to make sure my girls are getting paid enough and what happens if they are gone, or they miss time because they are sick. It gets hard because we are all so close my emotions get tangled up in stuff like that when I know I need to think about the business side of things. I’m working on being able to step back look at things like a boss and not just as friends. I mean we all hang out together outside of work all the time too! I have to constantly remind myself I’m in friend zone now, then we walk through the door and I have to go into boss mode. And they like to remind me that a lot “okay jess your not the boss now we’re talking friends now!”
What advice would you give to 18-year-old Jess?
Oh, man 18-year-old Jess had way too much fun in college. Actually, in a way, I wish I would have stepped back and enjoyed it a little bit more because I think I worried a lot back then. I do think that people need to go to college and experience it and have fun before you need to grow up because it goes by so fast!
What advice would you give to other young women who are starting a small business in a small town?
I would say defiantly talk to some type of financial adviser. Because I had no idea how much this was going to take, luckily I had David Grubb, at The Bank of Tioga. He was really good about helping me go through everything. We also hired an accountant which was big. She helps me out with so much with taxes and payroll. Then we had to hire a lawyer. There is just so much going on and you need to make sure you’re backed up for everything!
Is there anything else you want to add in?
We are happy to be on Main Street, and really help revive Tioga. We are just happy to see other people stepping up and buying businesses and trying to help out Tioga
Connect with Hidden Beauty
Facebook: Hidden Beauty
Call to book an appointment: (701) 664-3579
Address: 17 North Main Tioga, ND 58852