From being a college drop out to owning two successful luxury beauty bars, Ami Doan Tran is taking the nail industry to another level. Alongside her sister, she co-founded CURES STUDIO and ONYX in the heart of Toronto.
Located within Liberty Village, CURES STUDIO provides an elevated experience to nail and beauty bars. They adapt to new and innovative techniques, such as dry pedicure and medical-grade facials, to bring effective results to their clients.
ONYX, established just this year, is a gender-neutral, sophisticated nail salon that utilizes technology and creativity to deliver the best possible experience. Their goal is to continue pushing the boundaries of a typical nail salon experience.
Growing up, Ami was naturally introduced to the beauty industry by her family. Her mother worked at the Eaton Centre in the early 90s as a hairstylist before opening up her own business. Her aunts were nail technicians and introduced the art to her mother, who passed the trade down to Ami and her sister.
Ami and her sister worked at their mother’s business as young kids. “I absolutely hated it. The salon was the typical Asian one and after she sold it, I told myself I’ll never do nails or continue in the industry.” Isn’t it funny how life works out sometimes?
During Ami’s young adult years, she went to college for fashion and public relations. As an aspiring publicist in the fashion industry, it was a requirement to complete several unpaid internships to gain exposure. She interned for years, helping out at Fashion Week with L’Oreal. However, she needed a job to sustain herself.
Since Ami already had salon experience, she worked at the front desk at Fiorio at Yonge and St. Clair. Her first week of working there, she was put to the test when the salon had a power outage during peak hours. Ami learned she has great problem-solving skills and was quick to executing operational needs while providing great customer service. It was also during this time that Ami realized college wasn’t for her, so she dropped out.
Ami was at Fiorio for a few years before coming across an opportunity to work at Shangri-La’s Miraj Hammam Spa, a sophisticated and exclusive destination for hospitality unparalleled. This is when she met her mentor, Daryll Naidu. “Daryll played a major role in shaping my future. He introduced me to the value of high-level systems and protocols. His leadership style is exceptional. You follow him because you respect him, not because he’s your boss. He is the most ethical supervisor I’ve ever worked for,” says Ami.
It was at Shangri-La’s Miraj Hammam Spa when she was introduced to 5-star luxury services. Ami says, “I was never bored because it was a challenging position. We dealt with politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and other prominent figures.”
After the spa started to move out of its start-up phase, she was advised that she was going to hit the ceiling of her position. This was when she had a meeting with Daryll to discuss her future in the beauty industry. Did she want to start training to become a front desk supervisor and eventually a spa director one day? She didn’t know where she was headed.
Despite previously telling herself that she would never continue in the beauty industry, let alone become a business owner, she decided her next move was to open up her first business. This is when CURES STUDIO was born.
“If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t be where I am now without making a ton of mistakes.”
We asked Ami what changed her mind and she responded with, “I have a really hard time with being structured and scheduling, so moving into a senior management role at the spa wouldn’t have suited me. I’m notoriously known for being late and famous for not getting fired for it.”
Ami realized that like her mother, she had the mindset and skillsets to run her own business. She also noticed an opportunity laid in front of her.
“I realized that every facet of the beauty industry was developed except for the nail industry”
“The nail industry was littered with chop shops and discounted salons. This presented an opportunity to me: What if I merged my luxury experience with the nail industry?” she says. “I also have some of the worst feet, so I was passionate about finding services that are more treatment-based than cosmetic.”
Now Ami runs CURES STUDIO and ONYX alongside her business partners. “I have a three-year curse. I get bored after three years and typically need to change things up. After three years of opening up CURES, I opened ONYX.” says Ami.
Not a day is the same for Ami, especially with running two busy beauty bars. “I set one day out in the week to do dedicated work and strategic planning,” says Ami. “The rest of the week, I’ll set out 2-3 major tasks a day and the rest is up in the air. From partners and vendor meetings or clients— when they call, I answer.”
Ami oversees every part of her business, including inventory, scheduling, management, marketing to even cleaning the salons. Most of it is top-level, however she delegates the work to her staff.
She takes one day a week to disconnect to prevent burnout. “I used to work 7 days a week for 14 hour days, but you burn out quickly,” she says. Business owners have a higher chance of experiencing burnout as they have to juggle all aspects of their business. Running a business usually means long hours and investing your emotional-self into your work. Preventing burnout is important as it impacts both your well-being and business success.
We asked Ami what advice she has to those looking to break into the beauty industry.
In Ami’s words:
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