In 2006, frustrated by a lack of upscale spa options for busy professionals in Toronto, Kristen Wood decided to do something about it. Beginning with a conversation with a friend over a slice of pie, she formulated an idea for a niche salon offering luxurious facials, mani-pedis, and waxing that you can fit comfortably into your busy day without committing to some hours-long spa ritual. A few months later, Wood opened her first Ten Spot Beauty Bar on a hip strip of Queen West, and the “anti-spa” concept was born. Since then, the city’s fashionable ladies–and plenty of gents–have come in droves, taking advantage of the high-level services and spotless facilities. Here, she discusses the inspiration behind the idea, her fanatical commitment to cleanliness, and her favourite places to treat herself in Toronto.
Where did the inspiration for The Ten Spot come from?
As someone who wants to get pampered but has a busy schedule, I saw a gap in the marketplace. Before The Ten Spot opened, in Toronto you had the choice of either a nail salon where hygiene standards were not amazing, or a spa where you don a robe and commit to spending a good portion of your day there. I wanted to create an experience that combined the impeccable cleanliness of a high-end spa with the speedy service and upbeat, fun atmosphere of a lower-end nail salon. The anti-spa beauty bar concept has caught on like wildfire, with 14 locations in Ontario and more opening across Canada.
How is The Ten Spot different from other salons?
We’re nuts about hygiene. We never reuse materials from one person to the next. We only use sterilized trays and stainless steel tools, because nothing else can be properly cleaned. When waxing at The Ten Spot, we never double dip. Also, we know that jet foot baths are nearly impossible to clean thoroughly, so we don’t use them.
If I stroll into one of your beauty bars, what can I expect?
When you arrive, you’ll see that we’re an open concept space, with pedicure space for four to six people, as well as a long tables that serve as our nail bar and facial bar. In our beauty bars you’ll find singles, girlfriend groups, and even guys. Guests can watch Netflix or surf on an iPad while getting a wax. Our locations are friendly, clean, and uncluttered. Our mantra is walk in, strut out.
Can you dish out some insider tips for first-time salon visitors?
People often ask us if it’s OK to wear makeup to your facial. Our answer is, of course! We’ll take it off for you. Once you’ve had a facial, though, we recommend going makeup free for a day to enjoy the feeling of having extraordinary clean and soft skin.
When you’re not busy expanding your beauty bar empire, where do you go for fun?
I adore Terroni Southern Italian restaurant for their amazing homemade pasta. I can’t believe more restaurants don’t make pasta from scratch — it makes a huge difference. I’m also a big fan of The County General, a Queen West Southern-themed resto-bar with craft cocktails. Their “KFC” Chicken for two is ridiculous. On the trendy Ossington Avenue strip, Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery has homemade ice cream sandwiches that are to die for. You can choose from one-of-a-kind flavours including Sam James Coffee Bar espresso and Bellwoods stout, both named after neighbouring businesses in the area.
You seem like a fashionable gal. Any clothing boutiques you like in the area?
Cabaret Vintage on Queen Street West has super cute and amazing dresses.
What do you love about living in Toronto?
Toronto is one of the most creative cities in the world, and it’s a great city to be single in. With new boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and cultural festivals popping up, exploring the city is a new adventure every day.