When you arrive at the classic Adirondack log house on Peru’s Main Street, where Polished from Head to Toe is located, there are hints of a chic day spa outside. On the porch, a vintage iron chair beckons while tree branches twisted into archways and adorned with glinting white lights welcome guests. Once inside, rustic décor embellished with mirrors, strands of pearls, and portraits of Hollywood legends brings a comfortable, elegant atmosphere that is reassuringly modern. Greeted by a team of sensitive and skilled artisans trained in the latest beauty services, products, and equipment, owner Randi Walton wants each guest to enter a serene and inspiring space, and emerge feeling confident and beautiful.
Moving into its second year in business, Polished from Head to Toe has met, and exceeded, Walton’s expectations since opening in October 2015. The state-of-the art services, products, tools, and equipment are ensconced in a salon whose guests settle into overstuffed chairs and enjoy complimentary refreshments while they wait. “My team and I have been able to provide products and services in a unique atmosphere that continues to separate us from the rest,” said Walton. “I’ve had to hire more staff, and plan to do so again in June 2017.”
In addition to Walton, Polished from Head to Toe currently employs three: Lianna Wyckoff, Leigh Ann Valachovic, and Nerea Irazoqui. Walton also partners with an independent contractor, makeup artist and esthetician Alicia Darling-Yu. Together, they provide cuts, coloring, styling for hair, Balayage (hair painting), manicures and pedicures, temporary and permanent makeup, eyebrow sculpting (microblading), skin care, Versa Pro Sunless Spray Tanning (all natural), waxing for the face and full body, services for bridal parties, and Ladies’ Nights.
“We collaborate well,” said Walton, “and I try not to micro-manage. With Lianna’s attention to detail, Nerea’s bubbly personality, Leigh’s desire to help, and Alicia’s experience in the industry, we all make a great team. I make sure I provide them with the best tools and prod- ucts available. It’s also a priority for all of us to attend training sessions on new products and techniques as well as participate in trade shows,” added Walton. “We like to keep updating our skills.”
When not “working behind the chair,” Walton makes sure the salon is stocked with all of the products her team needs. On Fridays, her mother, Darcia Reeves, lends a hand by running payroll and printing out vendor payments that need to be sent. She also picks up orders and supplies. On Saturdays, Walton’s mother-in-law, Dale Walton, greets guests, answers the phone, and keeps everything tidy. Randi Walton also relies on local vendors such as Crystal Rock, WB Mason, and Rulf ’s Orchard to deliver products and refreshments used by the salon. “Having everything delivered helps, and saves me from having to go get it myself,” explained Walton. “Alicia is also very helpful on a daily basis with anything I need. We’re always communicating, even on our days off.”
Darling-Yu also assists Walton as the administrator of the salon’s active Facebook page. Guests can get more information about services, and see photos of the results. In addition, she answers Facebook messages and posts information about promotions. “The team uses social media as another way of staying current with online trends via Pinterest. It has everything: up-dos, colors…it’s very helpful and important to the team so we know how to achieve the desired results,” said Walton.
Alicia Darling-Yu has been an esthetician (a licensed professional who is an expert in maintaining and improving skin through facials and full-body treatments) and a nail artist for 18 years. She is an independent contractor who has had her own space within the shop—a refined private room down a quiet flight of stairs—since April 2016. She and Walton have formed a partnership, and share their customer bases.
“I always feel like I’m having a good day,” said Darling-Yu. “I like making people feel good about themselves. When a woman is getting a facial, or requesting a manicure or makeup, she is taking care of herself, and fulfilling an important need.”
Darling-Yu has just begun to offer permanent makeup, a service that employs a form of tattooing, to apply eyeliner or other enhancing colors to the skin of the face, lips, and eye- lids. She also does eyebrow sculpting, called microblading. Her work, however, is not just about beauty. Darling-Yu is very cognizant of a client’s health. “I only deal with natural nails, a person’s own nails—no acrylics. I don’t believe in damaging the original nail,” she explained. “We are also very careful here that everything is 100 percent sterile. We don’t believe in tubs. We use an autoclave, a heated container that does steam sterilization, as well as Barbicide disinfectant.”
“We all make sure that everything runs smoothly,” said Lianna Wyckoff, who answers the telephone, and schedules appointments for guests. Sometimes Polished clients request multiple services in the same day, and Wyckhoff coordinates the schedule to ensure their transition from service to service is seamless. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone is happy and taken care of at all times. Every client is extremely important to us. Their satisfaction must be perfect,” she said.
The Polished team attends industry events and training on new services, equipment, or techniques several times a year. They also learn from each other through observation. “We try to remain current,” explained Wyckoff.
“Randi and I met at another salon where we worked together for two years. We immediately understood that we had a similar vision about creating an exceptional salon. I can remember when this was just a dream,” added Wyckoff.
According to Walton, “Lianna was a great help in setting up the salon. We went shopping, shared ideas, and stayed up all night opening week to set up the salon.” They worked as a pair for just a short three months before they had to expand their staff.
LEIGH ANN VALACHOVIC
Leigh Ann Valachovic had worked for five years in the cosmetology business when she met Walton. When Valachovic left the salon industry to raise a family, she continued to go to Walton as a guest. “When I walked into Polished, I was so impressed, I knew I wanted to work here,” she said.
Beginning in June 2016, Valachovic has enjoyed being back, and has enhanced her knowledge. “Randi taught me a lot about color theory. I’ve gained so much experience with colors,” she explained.
Bridal parties are a group that Valachovic especially enjoys. “I love the Saturdays we host a bridal party. They take over the whole shop. Randi orders fruit from Rulf ’s Orchards, and we have coffee, juice, and other food to snack on. We do hair (curls, braids, and up-dos), makeup, nails—whatever they need so that when they walk out of here they feel pampered, ‘polished,’ and ready for the big event.”
Nerea Irazoqui, who always knew she wanted to go into beauty, has six years of experience in the business. She met Walton years ago when they worked together, and is skilled in hair, makeup, and nails. Irazoqui has been at Polished since April 2016.
“The reward is that you can create something that feels good to other people,” she said. “It’s great to see how people carry themselves when they leave.”
Initially attracted to the appearance of the salon (“I love how chic this place is,” she said), Irazoquoi appreciates being on the cutting edge. “We strive to be fashion forward,” she emphasized. “If it’s out, we have it here. Randi encourages education, and always gives us the opportunity to update our skills. We like to stay at the top of our game.”
As they move into what promises to be a very successful second year, Randi Walton and the staff of Polished from Head to Toe reflect a business model that is as lustrous and refined as the glowing clients leaving the salon.