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: Large, full-service distributors are the main source for nail products.

New Rule :A multitude of alternative distribution channels flourish, including small nails-only dealers.

Distribution channels have come full circle, starting with small mom-and-pop nails-only distributors about 25 years ago, to large, full-scale distributors in the late ’80s to early ’90s, back to small nails-only dealers and new channels like online distribution today. “In the ’80s, Backscratchers came out with a lot of new products but we were told by the full-scale distributors at the time to build distribution ourselves,” says Michael Megna, who co-founded Backscratchers about 25 years ago. “So we really got out there and did education in the schools, then the big distributors started getting calls about our products and they became interested.” Then, with the rising prominence of haircare companies and the buying out and consolidation of many of the large distributors, a void in nail product distribution appeared. That opened the door for the alternative distribution channels that now proliferate.

Old Rule: Clients are unconcerned about salon sanitation.

New Rule: Clients regularly ask questions regarding salon sanitation practices.

Scary news headlines talking about MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), other types of dangerous infections, and alleging “death by pedicure” woke consumers up to the need to inspect nail salons for proper sanitation practices. Several well-known reports of infections contracted at nail salons included a 1999 and 2000 outbreak from a Watsonville, Calif., salon that caused mycobacterial infections in more than 100 women. In November 2004, another outbreak occurred in San Jose, Calif., that had people suffering from leg lesions and infections. And in February 2006, a woman in Texas died from a MRSA infection after receiving a pedicure in which her heel was accidentally cut. Pop star and American Idol judge Paula Abdul also brought salon sanitation into the spotlight when she testified before a California Senate committee that she contracted a staph infection from a manicure she received at a California salon. Several states responded by toughening their nail salon sanitation and disinfection laws and increasing fines for violations. Some nail salons preempt client questions by including information about their sanitation practices on their websites and salon menus.  

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