Nail Tech Talk: Meet Sarah Rushworth of The Nail Shed, Scratch Stars Home Nail Salon of the Year 2023
By Callie Iley | 02 September 2023 | Feature, Salon & Spas
Valuing offering clients a personalised, focused service due to her struggles with anxiety since the birth of her son, Sarah Rushworth of The Nail Shed, Bolton, details her nail journey & how it felt to win Home Nail Salon of the Year in the Scratch Stars Awards 2023…
Working two jobs and raising a family, Sarah Rushworth always loved nails and nail art, but never found an opportunity to turn her passion into something tangible until she undertook gel polish training in January 2019, making the leap to open up The Nail Shed to clients. Rebranding to Magpie Beauty in September 2019, Sarah enrolled onto a host of accredited courses with the brand, including its gel colour, builder gel, strength and structure, and each tier of its nail art masterclasses.
Since qualifying, Sarah also sought E-file training with Willow Academy and Katie Barnes Academy, as well as completing her Nail Knowledge diploma. “I really enjoy training and I’m always looking for new learning opportunities to improve my skills and keep up-to-date with new techniques and industry standards.”
“In November 2018, I attended a self-employed business programme, but it was a programme with a difference; it helped you to think out of the box as a start-up, so you didn’t need to rely on business loans and it gave me the idea to buy and convert a garden shed into a nail studio.
“I remember when it was delivered, literally in pieces on my driveway and I was looking at it wondering how on earth I was going to create a business out of all these pieces of wood! I did most of the construction work myself with some help from my husband for the larger aspects. I love DIY so this was a really exciting project, and it’s one of my biggest achievements,” Sarah beams. “From January 2019, I started offering appointments to friends and family in the evenings, and the business has grown from there. I’ve worked hard on attracting the right clients and have a consistent rebook rate. I have a really solid client base of clients who attend appointments every three weeks.”
Wanting to focus her services on natural nails as opposed to enhancements, Sarah has focused her training in these areas, providing gel overlays and structured gel manicures to clients. “I also love nail art, so this is a big offer in The Nail Shed, too,” she smiles. “I’m not sure that I have a particular signature nail style – a plain gel manicure with a single accent nail is probably my most requested style. I love working with glitter and foils, they’re simple but effective and can be used in a variety of ways, so are really salon friendly.
“Magpie’s gels are so pigmented and the Like a Diamond Top Coat is strong and stays super shiny. I love that they are a one stop shop for nail products, with all the nail art items you could need. They are also HEMA and cruelty-free, which is really important to me to offer in the salon.”
“I feel so inspired by Adelina of Hello Beautiful Nail Bar and By Sarah Nail Artist. They both represent Magpie Beauty, which is my chosen gel brand, and their natural nail work is beautiful with such incredible attention to detail,” Sarah says. “My inspiration for nail styling comes from a wide variety of places, from social media to Scratch magazine and nail play dates with fellow nail technicians. Clients also love to share inspo content with me from Pinterest and Instagram.
“Most of my clients love nail art, but it can be tough narrowing down a design. I introduced a mystery manicure machine, which is a cereal dispenser I adapted, with a selection of seasonal designs chosen by me that are selected at random. This has been a lot of fun – clients love it!”
“The nail industry is special to me as it allows me to share my passion with clients and build relationships with them. It’s an inspiring and supportive industry, and I love attending courses and industry events. It gives me opportunity to meet other techs and make new friends. The industry isn’t stagnated, it’s always changing and evolving and offers new challenges.
“I want to keep doing what I’m doing at the moment – everything is working well for me, with a good family and work life balance. I’m open-minded to potential opportunities, but I don’t have a specific goal in mind. I hope the industry can keep openly challenging and raising awareness of issues, such as the increase in allergies and become regulated so that there is more accountability.”
Attributing her success to determination, support from her family and investment in ongoing training and quality equipment, Sarah notes that the nail colour to characterise her personality is red. “My star sign is Leo, which is a fire sign. I have dogged determination and enthusiasm to always try harder and improve, and I’m a warm-hearted and caring person.
“When I’m not doing nails, I enjoy going on family walks with our three year old Cavapoo, Rose. In lockdown, I discovered diamond art – it’s a really good activity to help clear the mind and I love creating new pieces of art for the home or to give as gifts for friends and family. I also love cuddling up with the dog to watch a good TV series.”
“The Nail Shed is located at the bottom of my back garden. From the outside, it looks like a typical shiplap garden shed, which has been painted a sage green to complement its setting. There are several plants and bushes around the outside and guttering and a water butt have been installed to collect rainwater from the shed roof, which has been fitted with shingle tiles for a rustic look.
“It’s so much more than a shed – it feels special, welcoming, and cosy. It’s a compact space at 7ft x 10ft, but the décor gives it a relaxed, bright and airy feel. There are two large windows covered with venetian blinds, allowing a little natural light, and they open out on to the garden which is great for air flow in the warmer months. The walls have been painted a neutral off-white, giving the illusion of more space, and holographic glitter has been added to the paint for a subtle shimmer. There are accents of grey, gold and blush to add warmth, and artificial plants and flowers for decoration to give the feeling of the garden indoors.”
“I’m really proud of the finished look and I just love spending my time in The Nail Shed. It’s my happy place.”
“Since having my son, I’ve struggled with anxiety, so I really understand the importance of that personal, focused service where clients feel like they’re important and being rushed, and that each appointment is tailored to their needs. This is one of the main ethos’ of The Nail Shed.
“I’m always looking for ways to improve the environment and the services provided,” Sarah explains. “I really try to get to know each client individually and provide a focused service where clients feel they are important.”
“I always ask clients if they would like to book or confirm their next appointment before checking out their current appointment, and my rebook rate is currently 100%. I have a long-standing regular client base and gained new clients via word of mouth from existing clients. They are the best advert for my business as they wear my work.
“I’ve established social media pages on both Facebook and Instagram and share posts at least three times a week, showing pictures and descriptions of nail services I’ve completed. I also use hashtags in my Instagram posts to help my business show in specific search results. I share posts into local Facebook groups to promote the salon and the treatments available.”
“I ask all new clients how they heard about The Nail Shed and many have said they searched on the internet for ‘nail techs near me’, and that my profile has been one of the first ones in the search results. I haven’t paid for any search engine optimisation but I am active on my Google business profile, making sure this is up to date and sharing relevant information about any training courses or workshops I complete, or key industry updates. I feel this is important as it shows I care about and invest in my business.
“I encourage all my clients to leave a review and once their appointment is checked out, the booking system I use sends them a receipt, a thank you message with a link to rate their experience and leave a review. This has been very successful and is a quick ‘hands off’ way to obtain reviews,” Sarah reveals. “I had a professional website developed and have links to this through all my social media pages and on my Google business profile. I feel this portrays a professional image and is a good way to keep important information up to date, such as, pricing and terms of service.”
Contemplating entering the Scratch Stars Awards to prove to herself that she could complete the application, Sarah came across a webinar by Katie Barnes while researching. “The one thing that hit home for me was when she explained about getting feedback for ways to improve your business and services,” Sarah remembers.
“As someone who is always looking for ways to improve, it felt the perfect opportunity to be able to see things with a fresh pair of eyes, from someone else’s perspective. I didn’t necessarily enter to win. Having feedback from an industry professionals was priceless to me.”
“Finding out I was a finalist felt unbelievable. I had to keep checking and refreshing the web page in case there had been a mistake,” she laughs. “On the day of the awards, there was so much nervous excitement and adrenaline. I travelled with Jark and Adelina, which was a lovely distraction. The venue was incredible and there was such a buzz in the atmosphere. I got to meet so many amazing industry professionals.
“I was in complete shock and disbelief to have won, and my emotions completely took over. I hadn’t even thought to prepare anything to say if I won, because I didn’t think it would be me. My trophy is now on display in the shed on its own pedestal.”
“Even just entering the competition is a confidence boost, to show yourself you can complete the process. It also helps you to think about your business in different ways. Having no holds barred feedback from experienced industry professionals is invaluable, to show you not only the things you can improve, but also what you’re doing right.
“Having the recognition and accolade of being a finalist or a winner can really help you to push your business further and create new opportunities. But most of all, it helps with your self belief,” she says. “I’d say to techs considering entering to go for it and don’t overthink it, you’ve got nothing to lose.”
“Since winning the award, I have more self belief, which is hard to find when you struggle with anxiety.”