Ladyfingers: A Blueprint Approach Works with People, Product and Engineering

Renee von Salm and Ken Shriley, partners in Ladyfingers, represent a case of complementing effective contrasts.

Renee von Salm and Ken Shriley, partners in Ladyfingers, represent a case of complementing effective contrasts.

Renee, a gifted nail artist, is tall, quick thinking and given to a hurried style of speech. She talks about the firm’s commitment to their sophisticated educational program and exudes the certain confidence of someone who has directed thousands of presentations and is truly in love with her work.

Ken appears more serious, sceptical and completely immersed in the engineering of the product. As chairman of the board and vice president of marketing, Ken’s style is that of the strategist, planning and executing moves while adhering to the established marketing approach of his company.

Together they represent a unified front, a management depth and combined strength that has developed a course of action, a blueprint if you will, or moves and counter moves that has successful taken their firm through years of rapid growth and growing market domination.

As with any engineering blueprint, Ladyfingers’ action plan employs similar precision, forethought and designs, while recognizing inherent basics and practicalities. Here too, a goal is similar to successfully design, engineer and produce products that fulfil a long term need in the nail industry.

In following this blueprint, Ladyfingers has taken a three prong approach utilizing three key areas: product, packaging and education.

In the area of product, Ladyfingers has outlined to the most insignificant detail the needs of the manicurist and incorporated solutions into the chemical engineering of their products.

In packaging, the firm has created a cosmetic high-end and sophisticated feel to add credibility to the manicurist who puts her reputation on the line either through use of the product or through referrals and sales to her clientele.

And in education, the firm has created simple yet specific and detailed methods for applying nails consistently in terms of quality and profitability for the manicurist.

“Our approach is to take the most sophisticated and technical quality we can build into a nail product and combine it with department store packaging and bring it to the professional beauty industry,” explained Ken.

This three prong marketing effort has worked well for the firm, as they have expanded from their original offering of a low odor acrylic formula to a line that boast over products, featuring all of the basic accessories for the nail artist as well as several speciality items developed by the firm.

Included in their line is Ladyfingers acrylic formula; travel kits, nail treatment products, such as Clean Start and Ultra Stik, accessories such as emery boards, forms and brushes, nail tips, silk wrap, glue; Polyfiller, and a variety of nail color.

The one product that established the firm some seven years ago, was their Ladyfingers acrylic formula.

“Early in Ladyfingers history,” explained Ken, “Fast Finish, an acrylic sculptured nail product was developed for nail artists who were requesting a fast drying acrylic nail product without an odor. The request was presented to Ladyfingers chemist, who has over 20 years of experience in the research of acrylic compounds with major chemical companies. The research done proved that there was no technology to produce a fast drying, low odor liquid and Ladyfingers’ chemist would need to invent the new product. One year later, the technology for Fast Finish was fully developed and after extensive testing it proved to have superior qualities,” said Ken.

Characteristics of the formula included “Fast drying, with enough styling time to build a thin, finely shaped nail; smooth flow-on application; natural look, strong, durable and flexible, easy to file; odorless and non-evaporating and highly concentrated, allowing each ounce of Fast Finish to complete 120 nails,”

The success of Fast Finish allowed the company to move into other product areas, and the concerns and approaches used in developing the product were to set the standard for the firm.

“We apply all of the rigid standards of quality to our entire line of products for the consistency and quality level we need and rely on to maintain the Ladyfingers reputation and image,’’ said Ken. “We are very proud of our engineering approaches and the study that goes into each product, as well as the design and format of our packaging and our place within the professional beauty industry. It is not something that we take lightly.”

Ladyfingers’ emphasis on product technology and quality is extended to their packaging approaches, in that they incorporate a similar color scheme and consistency to identify their products with a department store image, thereby adding credibility to the product and the nail artist in the eyes of the consumer. Another goal of the high-end designer look., a central key to Ken’s marketing approach, is to reinforce an image that Ladyfingers “knows what it is doing.”

“Everything about our product and packaging has been engineered and designed to fit the needs of the ultimate consumer,” explained Ken, “as well as to present an image that we, are a leader, that we are a company that knows what we are going and what we are capable of.”

From the beginning Ladyfingers has included in its blueprint the plan to develop packaging that attracts the consumer to either the professional serviced or the professional retail product. All of the packaging illustrates the degree of sophistication and quality in each product. For example, the colors chosen, a rose and grey tone combination represent what Ladyfingers feels is the perfect background to emphasis the outstanding color possibilities of nail products.

The package ends credibility and a strong price position for the retaining salon who wants to compete with the department store. In doing so, it serves two very important functions first, it makes the consumer who sees the product believe and feel confident in it and secondary, in retailing in the salon, we feel that the packaging appeals to the consumer interested in purchasing professional brand products.”

“The manicurist is putting her reputation on the line both when she uses the product and when she uses the product and when she refers the product to her buying clientele. Our packaging adds a credibility, a product sophistication without the high price so that the product is credible in the eyes of the consumer.”

Ladyfingers’ third point of emphasis and one inherent to the marketing and distribution success of the product, is in education; an avenue developed and pursued on a near full time basis by Renee, company president and educational programs director.

This educational program is an essential service to their distributors and dealers as it is designed to take someone unfamiliar with the product and provide the essentials for a notable and profitable manicuring operation the manicurist becomes an artists had the distributed succeeds in enhancing his clientele’s business and product knowledge.

This program has developed over the years to currently include 62 technicians nation-wide and a two part clinic program approach; a basic class and Renee’s advanced Presidential seminar.

“Each class is in itself a challenge,” explained Renee.

“Not everyone comes through that door with a smile. But whatever the case, the key is that all of Ladyfingers’ technicians know that the design of the class is to make them understand what Ladyfingers is all about, how the product is used correctly and what products to order from the distributor.”

We take these people and then show them not only how they can do acrylics, but how to start a nail business, taking a dark corner of their salon that’s not making any money, for example, and turning it info a profitable nail center. We don’t just teach them acrylics, silk wraps and tips; we teach them a basic understanding of the product and business.

This style of nail service by first expanding the market through education and then by providing the market and emphasis that grew out of an understanding of the industry and manicurists needs sine seven years ago when Renee first met Ken during a Bible study session.

At that point, Renee’s original interest was in nail salons and is he and Ken were actively developing a franchise program for salons under the name of Ladyfingers. But as the team further developed their program from the salon angle they were soon faced with an eye-opening opportunity.

“Recent changes in acrylic technology developed by our own chemist had made it clear that marketing an acrylic nail could be more successful and profitable in the long run than doing nail salon chains said Ken. So we made the decision and divested ourselves of the salons and moved into the manufacturing.”

Thorough the years, Ladyfingers had fine tuned their approach and has fine tuned their approach and has developed a vanity of products and programs through a commitment they continue to share today.

“Ladyfingers will always maintain its program of being fully aware of the ultimate consumer needs, and how the manicurist can profit from them. As significant products surface, we will continue our policy of evaluation and if needed, introduce a product technically superior in terms of product quality, said Ken. “The main paint to convey is that our aim is to continue to keep up to date and introduce those products that will be of long term benefit to the nail artist and industry.”

As an example of Ladyfingers commitment, the firm has recently introduced several now additions to their line, silk wrap nail tips glue and what they call Polyfiller.

“The silk wrap and compatible nail glue were developed into a professional service product to fill the insatiable demand from the consumer for a natural nail strengtheners and for strengthening of nail tips. This product,” explained ‘Ken, “can be used for both. It works as a natural nail program and with a nail tip program to add instant length that is many times stronger than the nail or tip alone.”

Ladyfingers has taken the step of introducing nail tips in two different styles. Style 1000 with its slender shape, and Style 2000 with a broader looking style.

“The two new styles of nail tips incorporate space age materials that are impervious to all nail polish removers, do not flame and will not crack or fracture,” claimed Ken.

Compatible with the new tips are two other products recently introduced by the firm: Flow Control, glue and Polyfiller.

“The Flow Control Glue features a replaceable applicator tip that provides instant bonding and maximum control with our new nozzle,” said Ken. “This new nozzle with not clog and offers the advantage of eliminating problems of uncontrollable masses of glue flowing out over the nail through the pin-point control it is capable of.”

A fast drying formula was chosen according to Ken for the convenience of the nail artist.

“The combination of being able to place the glue exactly with the fast drying aspect means that you can place you product and handle your overall service that much faster.”

Used in conduction with the glue is Ladyfingers new Polyfiler, a white powder designed to mend chips and racks in acrylic nails.

“The now Flow Control combination Polyfiller system repairs chips and clacks instantly with far less material and very inexpensively” said Ken. Available in 9 grain package the Polyfiller is compatible with the complete line of Ladyfingers products.

The approach to packaging and instruction of the new products will also be compatible with Ladyfingers philosophy, said Ken, in that a designer-styled format combined with simple, easy-to-understand instructions will highlight all products.

“Additionally, each product will also be available with new designer display racks engineered for optimum product presentation.”

In addition to engineering and marketing products on the technology front Ladyfingers continues to maintain its emphasis in the fashion aspect of the business. As part of their on-going program the firm has introduced a new collection of colors compatible with the popular color and lifestyle of denim.

“The fastest and most effective way to sell color and initiate interest in a now color is to back up with a promotion, with a program that excites, and is fashion oriented, emphasized Ken “That is the way we approached our color offerings seasonally and promotionally. This new collection of color will excite everyone who frequents a salon who is interested in fashion coordinated. Available in a 12-piece, 12 color display with built in color chart, this will make for retail and salon excitement and product acceptance.

According to Ken, the addition of the denim colors is part of his continuing effort at seasonal promotions of color that tie in with fashion, seasons and other trends to maintain the appeal and saleability of color.

“Continuing promotion is a must,” admitted Ken. “It is a law or retail that displays must be completely changed frequently to constantly keep the stores and salons new and interesting looking.”

So, the blueprint has been followed, down to the finest and most insignificant detail. And from all appearances, the location, is sound capable of further support and growth as the firm continues its emphasis in product development, education and fashion. Such combined strengths have enabled Ladyfingers to fully develop its product line thereby gaining strength though diversity; a strength that is sure to further develop their blueprint, their course of action for the future.

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