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Exploring Life & Business with Chloe Orr of Prim & Polish

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chloe Orr.

Hi Chloe, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Even though I never really saw myself owning a business, the story of how I got here really isn’t all that exciting. Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I was extremely hard-headed and my family always joked that there was no winning an argument with me. I put a ton of pressure on myself to do well in school, take all of the AP classes, go to an Ivy League college, and become a lawyer. Thinking of all that now makes me laugh at how far off the mark that was for me and what I enjoy.

Sometime during my senior year of high school, I realized that wasn’t the path I wanted to take. I thought that I still wanted to go to college but had no idea where so I figured I’d try a semester at CSU and try my hand at apparel merchandising. I liked it well enough and did fine in all of my classes, but at the end of my first semester, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term.

I ended up dropping out for a semester while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do instead. I tried taking a couple of business classes at my local community college, then tried transferring back to CSU and just taking pre-reqs to see if anything stuck. By the time I was 20, I had dropped out of college three times. However, in the midst of all this, I got a job as a receptionist at a locally-owned nail salon and spa. I loved working and picked up as many shifts as I could.

My boss at the salon watched me struggle to find my path and finally suggested that I try going to school for nails. As luck would have it, she also owned a private beauty school and offered to enroll me in her program. I was always artistic and had been enjoying working in a salon so figured I’d give it a shot. I immediately loved doing nails. It allowed me to be creative and build connections with some great people.

After completing nail school, I worked at the same salon for a couple of years and got to learn the ins and outs of the business. My former boss was an amazing business woman so I feel so fortunate that I got to learn from her work both as a receptionist and a technician allowed me to see two different sides to the business.

After a few years, I left there to work at another locally owned salon with more amazing mentors but a completely different business model. I learned all I could from them and then eventually decided to go out on my own and rent a station from another salon. Here I was able to get a little taste of owning my own business and loved the freedom it gave me. After a year and a half of being self-employed, I realized I was ready for something even bigger and began looking for ways to expand.

When I saw my building advertised for lease, I knew it was meant to be. I’d been in the building before when it was another business and knew it would make the perfect salon. I called my dad, another business owner who I’ve always looked up to, and had him come to a showing with me. He helped me through hiring contractors, writing business plans, and negotiating the lease over five months, and in October of 2022, I was handed the keys to my very own business. It’s something I never saw myself doing growing up but now I can’t imagine anything else.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Honestly, I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be saying this but the road hasn’t been half bad. There’s been a few hurdles here and there but nothing like some of the stories I’ve heard from other business owners. I am super fortunate to have met the mentors that I did along the way, including my dad who I’ve always looked up to and who was able to guide me so much through this process.

To be honest, it has been a lot more work than I thought it was going to be. I knew opening a business wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t anticipate how all-encompassing it would become. It’s not on my mind and I don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve spent working just since my first showing of the building back in May.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Prim and Polish is a luxury nail salon and spa in the heart of Fort Collins, Colorado. We specialize in natural nail services, waxing, facials, spray tan lash extensions, massage, and more. At Prim, we’ve curated a full experience so you’re pampered from the second you walk in the door. We offer a wide variety of services so that there’s something for everyone and we truly aim to make every single person feel welcome.

Prim & Polish helps empower service providers to further their careers in an industry that often presents a lot of dead ends. We’re proud to offer mentorship for our technicians to grow their careers as well as the option for them to run their businesses out of Prim & Polish. We have an amazing community in our salon and it shows in the clients we attract as well.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
The fun thing about the beauty industry is that it’s always changing. We stay up to date on all the latest trends in nails, skincare, lashes, etc so that we can always offer the best services for our clients. We’re also fortunate to have a huge space that will allow us to grow over the next couple of years. We’re still looking to welcome more service providers into our space to diversify the services that we offer.

I’ve especially been wanting to find a cosmetic injector and a permanent jewelry specialist but the possibilities for what we could offer are endless. Above all, I want to open a private beauty school within the salon, much like the one I attended years ago. I feel that Fort Collins is seriously lacking in the cosmetology school department and I would love the opportunity to mentor people just beginning in the beauty industry.

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Image Credits
Olive Thompson Photography

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