Q&A with Debbie Ritchey, owner of Body Spa Salon

After getting her start at a California Supercuts in 1975, Body Spa Salon owner Debbie Ritchey turned her passion for hair styling into a life-long career.

Following her grandparents’ lead, Ritchey moved to Las Vegas in 1998 to open up what would be her first of several salons in the valley after already owning a few in California. Now with five locations throughout town, Ritchey’s unconventional business model has become a success for her and for those she employs.

The more than 400 beauty professionals who work under Ritchey are hired as self-employed, independent contractors. Ritchey feels that gives each one a better sense of worth.

“Just trying to create business and opportunities for people who don’t have a whole lot of money and that have a dream. That is the American dream, to own your own business,” Ritchey said.

Body Spa Salon’s West Charleston location is not only the largest salon of her five stores, it is the largest salon in the U.S., coming in at just over 30,000 square feet.

Ritchey is a firm believer in giving back to her community and does so through taking part in various charitable events.

Ritchey began hosting an annual Beauty Gala two years ago and has risen more than $12,000 for cancer research. She also has helped with other charity events such as Clark County Foster and Adoptive Services, the St. Baldricks Foundation and Walk for the Cure.

Why has your business model of making employees independent contractors been so successful?

Over the years this business has transpired into a very broken industry that really needs to be developed and get its own culture going. People wanting to run their own business on their own time and their own way without the overhead expense and the stress that comes with running a business. That’s eliminated with my business model.

How can one of your employees move up?

With the way I’m conducting business now is for the self-employed so they can grow their business. I have a couple of people who have grown their business from one space to four spaces and have added their name on the front door.

Why is charity work, namely your work with cancer foundations so important to you?

I’m really into cancer research. I don’t feel there’s a whole lot of money going into breast cancer research and god knows we need it. Cancer hits home with me because I have had several people in my family die from cancer.

What’s something happening at your salons you’re particularly proud of?

I have a few things going on in my salons that involve helping people with cancer. If a person loses their hair, I have a gal that works at the west location who is the only beautician that is certified for oncology in the state of Nevada.