Rachel Apfel Glass has always complained about getting her nails done. While working in the finance industry for 10 years, the New Yorker would constantly go to the salon. But “I always felt like a manicure was an errand,” she says. She couldn’t find a salon she liked. There wasn’t a quality place in between the small mom-and-pop salon on the corner and the high-end spa to change out her nail color.
After her second daughter was born, Glass decided to quit her finance job to start her own salon. She debuted GlossLab in 2018. In the four years since, she’s opened more than a dozen locations across New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Her first Dallas salon, at 6025 Royal Ln., ste. 101, opened late this summer.
“Some of my college friends joke that this has sort of been like my life calling,” Glass says.
GlossLab is membership-based, which provides unlimited manicures and polish changes each month. While anyone can come in for an appointment, Glass set up memberships “for customers that really get their nails done more frequently,” she says. The membership is for the person who wants to flip out their nail color every week or on a whim and don’t want to worry about individual visits racking up on their credit card bill. Memberships cost $135 month-to-month, but that price decreases if you make a longer commitment.
Along with memberships, Glass established her business with hygiene and efficiency in mind to eliminate two other “pain points” she’s faced over the years at salons.
A self-described “lifelong germaphobe,” Glass says hygiene has been part of GlossLab’s ethos from the beginning. She wanted things to be as sanitary as possible, so she did away with the tubs of water that are often used to soak the fingers and toes during manicures and pedicures. This helps prevent nails from becoming damaged and prevents cross contamination between clients.
Additionally, GlossLab uses single-use tools when possible and the rest of the tools are stainless steel and get sterilized between uses in an autoclave machine. Finally, Glass keeps a dermatologist as an advisor on staff to make sure “we’re doing things the best way for everything, nails, hands, and feet.”
How it works: You book online or through Gloss Lab’s app. There’s contactless check-in and everything’s cashless. (Glass has always disliked having to stop in the middle of her service to pay.) Instead of fumbling through massive bundles of fake nails to pick a color, GlossLab has a “Polish Wall” where customers can hold their fingers up to various polish to pick which hue looks best.
The salon doesn’t do extensions, acrylics, or dip powder. Instead, it offers three polish types: a soft gel that’s easy to remove, a long-lasting paint, and a performance polish. The latter is GlossLab’s house brand, which is imbued with Vitamin E, biotin, and rosemary to strength and grow nails. There’s a good variety of colors, but the “Favorites” and “Seasonal” sections offer customers a smaller selection, like a couple classic reds, a pink or two. While you can still get nail art and add-ons like callus removals, the point is to help wavering customers decide on a color more easily.
“We like to think of it [as] it’s enough choice, but not too much choice,” Glass says.
In addition to the Preston Royal location, Glass is launching two more GlossLab locations in Dallas. A salon near Love Field—4416 Lovers Ln.—is set to open this fall, and another in Lakewood will open next year. Glass says she picked Dallas because of its vibrant, welcoming environment. Plus, she wants to launch in cities where she can make multiple GlossLabs part of the salon zeitgeist.
Says Glass, “I would love to see GlossLab on every street corner throughout the country.”