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ROB|B Offers New Take on Nail Salons

ROB|B, lacquer brand OPI's first U.S. concept nail salon, is set to erase stereotypes faster than old polish jobs when it opens this month.

OPI's first U.S. nail salon, called ROB B.

ROB|B, lacquer brand OPI’s first U.S. concept nail salon, is set to erase stereotypes faster than old polish jobs when it opens this month in Studio City, Calif.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

ROB|B co-owners and fraternity brothers Robbie Schaeffer, son of OPI founder George Schaeffer, and Daniel Schilleci, have made a conscious effort to counter the bad rap nail salons get for lacking cleanliness, privacy and environmental standards in their two-story 3,000-square-foot location.

With the help of Los Angeles architect Richard Best and interior designer Jessica Nakata of the L.A. firm The Black Door, eco-friendly materials were employed throughout, including in the steel frame, floors and sinks. Eight total manicure and pedicure stations downstairs are separated by partitions, and four rooms upstairs are restricted to enhance privacy. All boast individual sinks and flat-screen televisions.

“It has become a very costly build-out, but we wanted to create something that is above and beyond,” said the 28-year-old Schaeffer. He estimated the purchase of the building on bustling Ventura Boulevard and construction came to $3 million.

The 16 nail technicians hired by ROB|B endure four to six weeks of training at OPI. They follow a grooming protocol that kicks off with giving customers sanitizer-doused towels, and requires new nail files and tools cleaned to surgical-grade levels. “We want to bring that professionalism to the industry,” said Nadine Galli, an OPI veteran.

If that wasn’t enough, Schaeffer and Schilleci will personally handle nails. The former, who is the first in his family to become a certified nail technician, will sit behind a three-stool nail bar where walk-ins can get quick, waterless manicures for $18. Other signature services are a $30 essential manicure and $40 essential pedicure for regular nail maintenance, a $45 spa manicure and $50 spa pedicure for additional pampering, and a $65 ultimate manicure and $70 ultimate pedicure with stone massages and paraffin treatments.

Schaeffer began envisioning ROB|B, which is controlled separately from OPI by an entity called ROB|B Salon Inc., six years ago, when he noticed major apparel makers jumping into the retail business. “We have seen all these massive brands opening stores, we should do the same,” he said. “My father has built this amazing business. I have to find my own way, but I also love this business.”

ROB|B’s target customers are trendsetting women 18- to 45-years-old, but Schaeffer believes that up to 20 percent of the customer base will be men. The salon’s design — dominated by a sea foam, tan and brown color palette, and punctuated by water features — is intended to have a unisex appeal. “The whole design is contemporary. It came from boutique hotels,” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer’s goal is to generate $2 million in revenues annually at the Studio City salon, about 25 percent coming from retail sales of OPI and Murad skin care products. Schaeffer expects to expand to a total of six ROB|B flagship locations in key U.S. cities within the next five to 10 years. Franchising is in the long-term plans, with three possible footprints ranging from a small stand-alone nail bar to a spacious full salon concept.

For both consumers and OPI distributors, Schaeffer believes ROB|B will be an exemplary presentation of OPI’s complete product and service assortment, and the type of nail salon that ideally incorporates its professional brand message. “We want to raise the respect of the nail salon,” he said. “I see so many high-end hair salons around the world. Why can’t we be on that level?”