By  on July 17, 2009

People looking for a more personal touch when ridding their body of unwanted hair may find some relief in Uni.K.Wax Center, a waxing chain designed around offering an alternative waxing journey.

For starters, Uni.K.Wax only offers waxing services: There’s no tweezing or threading options, no mani-pedi stations, no massages and no hairstyling sessions. Also, the wax used there is made in a lab on premises, complete with a window, so customers can see how the wax is made. And, unlike other value-priced beauty spots, appointments are highly recommended (though walk-ins are welcome) since each Uni.K.Wax location averages about 200 to 300 customers a day.

But what stands out most about Uni.K.Wax, aside from its Boot Camp approach to waxing, is that each client gets a can of its green-hued, pine-scented wax. Any leftovers are discarded. That way, each client feels as if the wax has been specially designed for her. While spread of infection by using the same wax can throughout the day on different customers is remote, (Dr. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic dermatologist and host of DermTV, said bacteria needs water to flourish, and wax doesn’t contain water) its practice carries with it a certain “yuck” factor.

“We want to ensure every customer feels like it is the very first,” said Ozzie Grupenmager, a co-owner of Uni.K.Wax’s Manhattan location on 553 Third Avenue, and brother of the firm’s founder, Noemi Grupenmager.

Noemi Grupenmager was bent on changing the waxing paradigm in the early Nineties when she became fed up with the waxing services she was receiving in her hometown of Miami.

“Hair removal in the Eighties and Nineties was very expensive and the system with the [paper] strips was painful,” said Grupenmager, who added the treatments she received were also time consuming and not made for those with sensitive skin in mind. “I did not think they were expert.”

So, Grupenmager set out to create a waxing emporium that met all of her needs. The must-haves: The waxing process would need to be fast enough to service about four customers an hour per treatment room, it must be hygienic and it should be affordable to everyone.

Grupenmager said she and several chemists formulated a wax that, when applied, is about 98.6 degrees and is “very elastic, like peanut butter, which remains elastic up until the time it is removed so it doesn’t get hard,” which is why many other waxes hurt, she explained. Formulas are natural and use mainly beeswax and pine tree ingredients, she said, meaning they do not contain chemicals, paraffins or coloring agents. The wax requires no paper strips.

Aestheticians at Uni.K.Wax are trained on how to remove hair with Grupenmager’s wax, as it is different from others.

“We train how to use the wax but also how the customer should be positioned when the treatment is being performed to make the system fast,” said Grupenmager.

The first center opened in 1993 in South Beach, a first of its kind, she said. There are now two other locations, which she operates with her daughters, Romina and Vanesa Szperling, in North Miami and South Miami.

There are also 19 franchised centers throughout Florida and California that operate under UKW Franchising Co. Franchisees pay about $200,000 to $300,000, which includes the franchise fee, construction and furniture, telephone and computer systems, initial inventory, insurance, grand opening advertising and signage, and money for the first three months of operation. The North Miami center serves as a model for the franchises, which measures 1,500 square feet and has a lab with a window so customers can watch the team create the wax.

Stores average between $700,000 and $1.5 million in annual sales, depending on location, said Grupenmager. Some special services are also offered at Uni.K.Wax, including a bikini touch-up wax, which costs about half the price of an actual wax (prices start at $15 for a bikini line and go to $73 for under arms) and can be administered as soon as two weeks after an initial wax. (The usual wait time between waxing is three to five weeks.) Prices are the same at all stores, regardless of location.

Keeping up with trends may help Uni.K.Wax stay competitive against more luxury-type beauty emporiums: Centers offer Celebrity Brow, where a customer can choose from a catalogue of celebrity eyebrow shapes, such as a high arch, à la Angelina Jolie, or a fuller brow, as worn by Brooke Shields.Aestheticians use specially designed stencils to get the right brow arch. Celebrity Brow costs $25.

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