Shahla Day Spa & Threading
Bringing European Pampering to Connecticut
LUX Hotel & Spa Awards
When spa owner and aesthetician Shahla Alihagh relocated with her husband from England to Connecticut about seven years ago, the savvy businesswoman brought a new pampering and personal care concept to Connecticut when she opened her Shahla Day Spa & Threading.
“No one knew what threading was,” said Alihagh, who introduced Central Connecticut to the ancient Middle Eastern hair removal technique that has recently gained popularity in the United States; the procedure uses a doubled-up strand of cotton threat to twist around and remove individual hairs. “I had people calling who thought I had spelled something wrong because they had never heard of threading. I invited clients to come in and try it for free and they were amazed,” she remarked. “It was interesting to me to introduce something new to this area.”
Alihagh, whose celebrity list of clients in England included former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and model Naomi, opened a new business in Plainville, CT, spotlighting the threading procedure. As a veteran spa owner who is well-acquainted with and committed to the European philosophy that skin should be carefully cared for, she also focused the business on skin care, going above and beyond the common misconception that a facial is simply of matter of smearing on layer after layer of sweet-smelling product.
“In Europe, taking care of the skin is an important routine,” said Alihagh, referring to other countries where women take better care of their skin by avoiding sun, wearing hats and appreciating the importance of timely deep cleansing facials at a very early age. “My job at my spa is to teach women here how to take care of their skin as well.”
As Alihagh is a dedicated fan of the skin care line Dermalogica, a facial at Shahla Day Spa & Threading is not a routine experience, but one that includes a skin analysis and treatment that is designed for a client’s skin type, special issues and age.
“Dermalogica is a very well-known European product and one I like to use, simply because it is the best,” Alihagh said. When a client comes to her spa for the first time, she is careful to explain how she has worked with the company for 20 years, her familiarity with the diverse product line and the good results her clients have enjoyed for decades.
Emphasizing that in a very competitive market, she is careful to price accordingly in order to make all of her services, which also include manicures and pedicures and stylized massages, very affordable.
“I think it is most important first to have a clean and comfortable business, one that welcomes a client as soon as they walk through the door,” said Alihagh, whose salon boasts a minimalist yet soothing decor, with a contemporary kind of feel. “I am very aware that clients want what they pay for and price my services accordingly,” she continued. “I strive to make sure that both me and my staff provide a service that is perfect as possible, whether they are first time or repeat clients.”
The adage is that money can’t buy everything and Alihagh’s spa provides it in what it offers that no amount of money can buy, attentive customer service.
“I am an owner who is on the floor and serving my clients because I am the one who is ultimately responsible for their good experience,” she said. “I am professional when it comes to what I do, but very warm as well. I try to make them comfortable. I want them to enjoy the experience whether they are preparing for a special event, recuperating after a difficult time or just need a break from a busy and stressful schedule and need and deserve some pampering.
“I think there is a value to attentiveness that goes hand in hand with quality service and good results,” she also remarked, emphasizing the necessary balance between performing a service and making it a special experience. “I do this from my heart and I like to think it shows.”
Based on her business growth since she started, her philosophy and hard work is paying off.
“We had a tough first two years because the concept of threading was new and people had to become familiar with our other services and how we do them better,” said Alihagh, whose spa also offers eyelash and eyebrow tinting, eyelash extensions and spa packages. “We focus on what we do best. We do not want to expand quickly or raise prices just because everyone around might be. Quality is first.”
Since opening, Shahla Spa & Threading has stepped up to customer demands and trends also offering special packages for children’s spa parties, bachelorette parties and wedding party services. The spa’s stellar reputation has steadily grown since she opened, and her clientele is a diverse mix ranging from pre-teens to senior citizens.
“I like having that range in my business. And it’s not just about the treatment itself but about what the customer needs. Maybe they can find an escape here after a bad day, or need a smile. That is as much a part of my business as the actual service.”
Alihagh’s commitment to customer service is one that she emphasizes as she trains the staff at her salon that includes the main threading, manicure and pedicure area as well as separate private massage and facial rooms.
Her staff is testimony to the quality product she offers at her spa. Most of her staff, as committed to quality service as she is, have been at the salon since she opened. That is her goal as an employer.
“The first thing I talk to new staff about is the standard I set for myself and for them when it comes to serving clients,” she commented. “I make sure they know their job, the products we use and remind them that if they are doing their best, it has to be to my standards.”
There is one more component to Alihagh‘s business model of success, community involvement.
“I contribute to so many community events, non-profit fundraisers, school events and other good causes. That is also an important part of being a good businesswoman, being involved in the community here your business is located. My attitude is if you can help, why not?”
Alihagh admits that perhaps being so focused on customer service, while still maintaining such a high standard when it comes to the products used and keeping prices competitive, may not seem like the best way possible to make the most money, and yet it is still the way in which she wants to do business.
“I don’t even think about other businesses in my industry,” said Alihagh, regarding her focus and drive when it comes to her spa and attracting and maintaining clients.” I don’t see what other businesses do, I just do what I know is the best for customers. I just do what I do from my heart.”
Company: Shahla Day Spa & Threading
Name: Alihagh Shahla
Web Address: www.shahladayspaandthreading.com
Address: Shahla Day Spa & Threading, 29 East Street, Plainville, Connecticut, 06062