A skin and waxing boutique in Downtown Norfolk was built on the desire to connect with people one-on-one and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin. With nearly 20 years of experience as an esthetician, Nickie Janes opened Smooth to bring an elevated skincare and waxing experience to Coastal Virginia.
Smooth has expanded with two additional locations in Virginia Beach and Newport News, but this passionate entrepreneur’s dream and success didn’t happen overnight nor did it come easily.
Nickie opened her heart and shared her story with us one chilly day in January, and we are honored to share it with you.
How It All Began
Nickie had the drive to help people with skincare. “I feel this is in my blood, and I have been doing it forever,” she says. She always dreamed of owning her own business but struggled to find the “right time” to take the leap.
19 years ago, she began her career as a novice esthetician eager to learn the ins and outs of the industry. She started working with clients but didn’t do much waxing at first. Under the wing of a mentor, she worked hard at perfecting her craft. She was gentle and careful and really enjoyed the bond she was creating with her clients. Clients would return and her career began to take off.
Starting Smooth, Nickie was fueled by the fear of regret. “I did not want to look back in 20 years and say, why didn’t I at least try that crazy idea?” Launching her business, she started small with an intimate space in Downtown Norfolk’s Monticello Arcade. Built with heart and experience, Smooth’s business excelled and they began booking up months at a time.
“I knew it was time to expand to a second location because we were booked solid for weeks on end,” Nickie explains. The second Smooth location she opened was Newport News. “I dug deeper and realized we had a strong clientele from the Peninsula, Williamsburg and even as far as Richmond and D.C. It made sense to open in Newport News to accommodate those clients as well as offer more availability to the Southside.”
Smooth expanded to its third location in Virginia Beach in 2019. Nickie shares, “For years, we have had clients requesting a location there, but I was not convinced because the market seemed to be getting more saturated.” She continues, “I found the sweet spot eventually, and it has been worth the wait!”
With sincere business savvy, Nickie listened to the wants and needs of the community, which became a big contributor to the success she has seen to date.
The Smooth Experience
Smooth offers facials, waxing and lashes, but they are best known for providing the cleanest, most comfortable Brazilian wax. The private service rooms are tucked around the corner from the boutique’s carefully curated gift shop.
Outside of skincare, Smooth is stocked with everything from “organic skincare products, candles, cards and cheeky gifts to put a smile on your face.” Nickie searches for brands that stand out from the crowd and often carries smaller, independent brands in her shop. “I like unique packaging with stellar ingredients, and I am also a sucker for smart gifts that make you giggle.” We can affirm this as items including a “big ass brick of soap” and totes and towels with quirky sayings adorn the shelves. The boutique’s character is as charming and inviting as the Smooth team.
Nickie mentors and trains every team member to create consistency in clients’ experiences at Smooth. She has perfected the ‘Smooth technique’ over the last 19 years and has trained her team on special methods and processes to bring the best possible experience to clients. “It is not unusual for an esthetician to pop into my office for advice on how to help a client with particular skin concerns,” Nickie explains. “I also offer a yearly education fund for team members to continue advancing their skills and knowledge. All of these benefits are passed down to the client, so we are truly investing in giving them five-star service and results.”
Additionally, Smooth has created a custom hard wax, formulated exclusively for them by a manufacturer in Italy. Nickie describes, “It is extremely gentle for sensitive skin yet strong enough to address stubborn hair. Our clients rave about it!”
Community Rapport + Impact
Trust and empathy are Smooth’s cornerstones to building relationships with clients. “We provide services that can make people feel vulnerable, and we find great joy when someone feels more confident or empowered after coming to see us,” Nickie says. She expands, “It is not just the services we provide; it is the conversations we have. We listen, support, laugh, cry and high-five with our clients.” The dedication Smooth has to its clients is admirable and is something they continue to foster daily.
“We built not only a business but a community over the years, and our clients are absolutely the best,” Nickie says with gratitude.
Proudest Moment & Biggest Obstacle
When asked about her proudest moment, Nickie smiles and says ‘The people. My team.’ She credits her proudest moment to the jobs she has created for women offering them financial freedom. Nickie continues, “My team has been able to make life-changing decisions for themselves and their families—from affording their first home to paying off debt and crossing travels off their bucket list to paying for their children’s education.”
Nickie’s biggest obstacle arrived when she discovered she had Neuroendocrine cancer. “It literally and figuratively knocked the wind out of me, and it has been the biggest challenge of my life,” she says. Everything in your world stops when you receive a cancer diagnosis. You reevaluate the different layers of your life, and Nickie explains how important the people in your life become. “If you are going to put your energy anywhere, that [the people] is where it needs to be.” She continues, “I have learned gratitude on a scale I did not know I was capable of. In a strange way, [the diagnosis] has been a gift.”
She crushed cancer and is now stronger—both mentally and physically—than she has ever been. “I have learned the same tenacity and resilience it takes to run a business comes in pretty handy when you are faced with a health challenge like cancer.” Radiating optimism, Nickie manifests persistence and strength in a way we find extremely inspirational.
Advice for Aspiring Business Owners
She advises being invested in your idea and loving what you do. “The hustle is long and hard, so if you do not love it, you will burn out before you see growth.”
The road to entrepreneurship can also be lonely. Nickie shares, “Your friends and family may be supportive, and clients and team members are amazing. But, finding others who have been through the journey and REALLY understand what it entails is priceless.”
Future Goals + Happenings
This year, Nickie is looking forward to bringing in more organic skincare and beauty products to help people “ditch the chemicals found in many self-care products.” She is also excited to focus on her team’s personal growth as well as developing programs to give back to the community.
How to Experience All That Smooth Has to Offer
Visit Smooth in-person at any of the three locations to see the products and meet the faces behind this incredible business. Head over to their website to learn more about their services and to check out their gift items. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook to stay in touch with their latest news and updates.