Business Management

On My Mind: Can We Change the Stereotype?

I’m looking for a place I like to call a nail boutique. It would be focused primarily on natural nails, and it would have interesting and unique services (where they’d serve drinks to match the services).

You’d think the editor of a nail magazine would know the perfect place to get her nails done. And I do. Too bad it’s in Tampa, Fla.

I live in a small beach community in Southern California, with a quaint, walkable downtown area filled with boutiques, restaurants, yoga studios, and more restaurants. There are nail salons, but they’re your average run-of-the-mill nail salons, not quite the place I’m looking for.

I’m looking for a place I like to call a nail boutique. It would be focused primarily on natural nails, and it would have interesting and unique services (where they’d serve drinks to match the services). The salon my town is missing would also do quite a bit of retail — both professional-only salon products and boutique specialty items as well. There, I could find a unique gift for one of my girlfriends as well as stocking stuffers for my baby cousins. As for design, it would be cute (I’m a sucker for cute) and modern, but it would be comfy too — like I was hanging out in a friend’s really cozy living room.

So when I got a call last week from a woman who wanted to open up a salon in my neighborhood that practically matched my dream-salon description, I thought, at last! I was so thrilled to hear her professional business plan, to learn that she had already secured financing, and she even had lined up a few top-notch nail artists. But then she told me that she had been rejected by a handful of landlords who didn’t even read past the words “nail salon” on the cover page of her business proposal. I was shocked.

With more than $6 billion being spent in nail salons last year, how could this not seem like a viable business to the owner of a shopping complex or commercial building? A nail salon would seem to guarantee income to a landlord, provide walk-by traffic for all neighboring businesses, and project a stylish image (not to mention, I’d get my perfect neighborhood nail salon!). So what’s the problem? I got on the phone with some of the landlords to ask them directly.

One told me, “There isn’t a stigma on nail salons as a whole, but they’re a dime a dozen, so they don’t add a unique angle to the business center.” One guy told me he didn’t want to add the plumbing a salon would require. The same person told me he didn’t view nail salons as an upscale service business and felt they would hurt the neighborhood’s specialty cachet.

So here you have a budding salon owner, out to change the perception of the run-of-the-mill nail salon and she’s in a Catch-22: She can’t change the perception of nail salons because the perception of salons prevents her from opening up a new kind of perception-changing nail salon.

And here you have a dejected nail magazine editor, who continues to wait for her friendly neighborhood salon and realizes it’s still going to take a lot more than wishful thinking to bring “cachet” and “upscale” back to the nail business.

But I know we can do it.

Keywords:   negative industry press     On My Mind     professional image  



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