A bare business in Taos says happy employees help grow bottom line

SugarBare pays double minimum wage to store employees

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Something sweet is looming at the SugarBare lingerie and organic hair removal business, and the new business is sending a message to others in Taos: happy employees make happy businesses.

When owner Alyssa Nightingale was having a conversation with a friend, her friend recommended she start a business with her organic hair removal talents, and that's just what she did. For over a year, Nightingale has been taking in clients for her unique methods of organic hair removal and also pairs her talents with lingerie sales in her second-story shop on 136 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte. In addition to the unique practice, Nightingale has also brought her first two official employees on board and is getting used to having extra help around.

"What I need from my employees is to help me grow my business," Nightingale said. "People love this. They say, 'Oh, I'm never waxing again.' "

SugarBare uses an all-natural compound of sugar, water and lemons to create a hair-removing substance that Nightingale says is better for the body and environment than a hot-wax hair removal treatment. The compound SugarBare uses has been used throughout history, is all natural and even edible. While many of her local and loyal customers come in for the treatment, her lingerie sales are also an attraction for customers, a challenge Nightingale says that has been interesting to overcome.

Clients can book appointments with Nightingale for the sugar treatment, but customers can enter and browse the many lingerie garments for sale in the shop, all of which are made in North America. Nightingale said the idea to sell lingerie came after seeing a similar shop in Portland marketing the garments.

Where SugarBare really differs from the trend is the new employees who signed onto the staff at the shop slightly more than a month ago. After more than a year of running the appointments, retail and operations, Nightingale realized she needed help after a friend stepped in for the holiday season. However, she didn't want to pay her employees a wage she herself couldn't live on.

"I knew Taos was an incredibly difficult place to live," Nightingale said. "I don't think you can ask anyone to do a job for $7 or $8 per hour."

Having worked several low-paying jobs herself, Nightingale decided to pay her two new employees $15 per hour for their work, saying a wage is indicative of how well employees are valued. Both employees help with retail sales and have even begun tackling the social media aspect of the business. With two employees working different days during the week, Nightingale is freed to focus on her appointments, rather than pausing a session to help someone on the retail end of the store.

Knowing that good communication is key to having a healthy work environment, Nightingale tries to keep a "pleasant environment and pleasant communication" with her new employees, which employee Terry Graziano appreciates. "I feel like I'm really heard and valued in her actions and compensation," said Graziano. "It's been a nice atmosphere to work in."

Graziano works part time at the shop and also has a business designing hats. Together, the three are growing the SugarBare business. The shop will have new hours to start the new year and will be open from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. For appointments, contact SugarBare at (575) 224-2383.

Are you a business owner taking unique steps to train, pay and retain your employees? What have you found works and doesn't work? The Taos News would like to hear from you for future stories focused on building a successful workforce in Taos.

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