Business Management

Old Rule/New Rule: 12 New Ways of Looking at Our Industry

Take a fun walk down memory lane as NAILS chronicles some of the biggest changes in the nail industry's unwritten rules from the past two decades.

Old Rule: Nail techs are relegated to the back of “hair” salons and are treated as an afterthought.

New Rule: Nails-only salons thrive.

Nail care has been in the U.S. since the early 1900s, but the development of enhancement products in the early ’70s and the marketing that showed off long nails as a fashion necessity helped pave the way for nails-only salons. Then, the Fall of Saigon in 1975 and the following growth of Vietnamese nail salons in the U.S. made nail care an affordable luxury to be enjoyed by the masses. These changes, coupled with the development of signature nail services and “hair” salon owners realizing how profitable nail services could be, brought nail techs out of the back room and onto prime salon real estate. “My first nail job in 1987 was as a manicurist in a salon where the nail area was originally a supply closet,” remembers veteran nail tech Shari Finger. “I left that salon and opened my own little salon within a hair salon where I was right in front near the reception area. My business grew quickly and I opened a second salon within a year also located in a hair salon, this time placing the nail table in the front window. I closed both of those salons 15 years ago and consolidated them into one nails-only salon where clients don’t just come in for manicures they come in for multiple services.” The rest, as they say, is history. 

Old Rule: Red polish or a French manicure were the only acceptable choices.

New Rule: Nail polish colors are matched to the latest trends in consumer fashion, with purples, blacks, yellows, and more being stylish depending on the season.

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive VP and artistic director of OPI, explains: “When women first started wearing nail color, they were afraid to step out of the box and explore new colors. Since then, fashion has evolved so much, and nails have definitely kept up with the latest trends on the runways. Years ago, no one would have ever thought of painting their nails gray or purple, but today, they are the hottest colors for nails!” The increased number of polish color choices and nails gaining more consumer press and clout also helped. “Women have realized that nails make just as much of a statement as hair and makeup, and that is why they are now choosing bold colors to accessorize their looks,” Weiss-Fischmann. 

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