Making small talk with a stranger while lying half-naked on a table as they rip hair from a rather private region is awkward at best. What's there to talk about? The weather? The economy?
"I generally loosen clients up with simple questions and then they start unloading from there," says Jen Eichhorn, owner of the Screamin Peach in Fort Collins, Colo. "They just kind of open up and pour their hearts out."
The Screamin Peach is a waxing salon. No pedicures. No manicures. No massages. Just waxing. Arms, legs, eyebrows, areas below the belt--you name it, they wax it.
"I didn't start my business because I wanted to get rich," Eichhorn says about her studio, which she opened in 2006. "I wanted to open something everyone would feel comfortable going to."
Most salons are very frilly and Little Bo Peep--low lights, faux waterfalls, lots of pink, an overwhelming infusion of flowers and incense and a perky staff. The Screamin Peach is Bo Peep's nemesis--and a lot more fun. It looks like a tattoo parlor but feels like a New York boutique. The furniture is funky, and eccentric works from local artists hang on the walls. The waiting room is essentially a shopping area full of handbags, jewelry, lingerie, hats and sexy items like Black Betty Noir ("color for hair down there").
"I became interested in waxing when I was 21," Eichhorn says. "I didn't like the way it was being done in other salons. I wanted something more upbeat, so I developed something modern, something uncommon."
Eichhorn was looking for something different, but she was also looking out for her daughter, who she was raising on her own. "When I worked for other salons, all of my money was going to childcare," she says. "I got a loan from my dad and opened the shop. I didn't have a business plan or any money, but I'd been in the industry for so long, I had a good clientele and knew I could make it work."
Eichhorn does her best to support other local businesses. One of her employees sells her jewelry at the store, and many of her suppliers are Colorado-based. The Screamin Peach is across the street from Colorado State University (CSU), and last year Eichhorn agreed to let two CSU marketing students sell their beauty products, Sweet Cosmetics, in her shop. The tattoo artists next door also get her business--they've inked seven tattoos on Eichhorn's body.
And the studio's spicy name? It was actually inspired by an eagle--of the bald variety, no doubt. "I originally thought about Peaches and I didn't like it," Eichhorn says. "I was looking at this tattoo magazine and saw a screaming eagle and I liked that, so it became the Screamin Peach."
Five years in, Eichhorn is preparing to open a second shop--bringing the popular Playboy wax, which rids the bikini area of everything but a "V"--to new clients. Interestingly, men make up 25 percent of Eichhorn's clientele--and while they don't get the V, they do go for the manzillian, which is a Brazilian wax for men.
"Men have their own insecurities," Eichhorn says. "They look in men's magazines and all the men are hairless, and some of their girlfriends, wives and partners don't like hair."
In fact, of all the body parts Eichhorn has waxed, she says the most unusual involved a male customer. "The weirdest thing I've ever waxed was a head," she says. "But I didn't charge for it, because it was an experiment--and it didn't work."