by Michael Abbey
Phi (rhymes with me) Beauty Bar occupies part of the ground floor of the edifice at the corner of Wilton Crescent and Bank Street across from TD Place. Adorning their business card is the Greek letter ɸ (phi), also known as the Golden Ratio or Divine Proportion, representing harmony and beauty in human faces and bodies and in nature. “Lightheartedly, we just want people to know we provide good, high quality services with top quality products in the industry. We’re always up-to-date and always use very environmentally friendly products that are healthy for your skin.”
I spoke with Angelique Do and Philip Pham, the driving force behind the establishment. The recurring theme of the topics we covered was top quality service using the best of product lines. Their choice of product is driven by value and attention to the health of their clientele. “We do rigorous testing in house with all new products rather than letting other testers’ experiences drive what we use.” They steer clear of some established market ingredients for the sake of the well-being of their clients. “We stay on the leading edge of the industry and keep informed by attending shows and actively participating in many groups.” They discover – they acquire – they test in house – they adopt what works, and reject what doesn’t.
In some ways they are mainstream with a twist. They go the extra distance in all areas of cleanliness, especially in the footbaths that have no jets and no recycled water. Their tools are stainless steel, evidence of their commitment to hygiene. The services page on their website highlights an impressive assortment of nail enhancements, hand and foot care, waxing services and an assortment of eyelash goodies. If you’re looking for some special attention for a special day, look no more. The plethora of offerings and Do and Pham’s enthusiasm made me believe their answer to many standard offerings in the industry not highlighted on their web page is simple: yes, we can do that. “The product we use is free from harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and some resins while still offering something effective for everybody.”
The display of nail polish on the north wall is intoxicating. OPI, CND and Bio Seaweed Gel (Toronto) adorn the assortment of products on display. Though parking may not be as plentiful at the south end of the Glebe, the Lansdowne parkade is a stone’s throw away and affordable. Outside of the snow bergs that adorn some of the side streets in winter, there is lots of on-street parking around the corner, mainly off Monk Street. Do would consider subsidizing paid parking if it makes business sense as the size of the client base increases. She is not new to this business, most recently having worked alongside her mother on Merivale Road in a salon. Pham’s experience is north of 10 years, melding nicely with Do’s background.
Why the Glebe? “It’s a happening place, and everyone goes to this part of town. As well, storefront is cost-effective for us. Our price points are attractive to a wide range of customers.” When I was 20-something, this address housed the Villa Deli, a trendy and popular sports bar. Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books was there from 2006 until early 2017. Who knows? Perhaps Kaleidoscope’s steady customers, as they age, will gravitate to Phi Beauty Bar to attend to some of their personal needs.
The décor is simple, lots of white and black with a well-planned layout that takes advantage of a seemingly small space. The space is the only thing that is small. Everything else at Phi speaks of success, enthusiasm and a mission to establish long relationships with regular clientele. Everything Angelique Do and Philip Pham said spoke of a recurring theme in our chat: “We stay on the leading edge, rather than following and catching up with the trends in the field.”
Michael Abbey is a retired high-tech professional and bridge enthusiast who writes about business for the Glebe Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Prefer Majors.