Fundamentals … they are from which everything else springs, without which a product or system would not be what it is, nor develop into what it could be. They represent the foundation, the ground work, the base that supports all that is to follow.
In art, it is the combination of such fundamentals that transforms a vision into a masterpiece. A crayon in the hands of a child is a fundamental … in the hands of a professional, an artistic tool.
Such is the key to Nail Mate’s stunning successes over the past several years … a reliance, insistence rather, on creatively handling the fundamentals of product development and business management.
“All the great artists, Picasso, Dali, Matisse … started somewhere,” remarked Mel King, impressive and eminently presentable in his North Hollywood, California office.
“My guess is that they started with the basics, with the fundamentals of their art.
“As all nail artists must start somewhere, we choose the basics, the fundamentals, the essential tools of nail artistry with which to make our market impact … we started with the abrasives, the emery boards that for years have been one of the fundamental tools of the trade.”
It was from that initial product offering that Nail Mate has grown to offer four different varieties of emery boards (the garnet, black, silver and gold), five varieties of nail squares. Buff N Gloss, nail glue, replaceable files, nail brushes, nail forms tips, nail filler, toe separators, silk and linen nail wraps, and a recent introduction of liquids and powders. It is a success story that Mel emphasizes was the result of a dedication to product quality and to basic, credible, fundamental business approaches.
“Well, on the one hand,” reflected Mel, “we probably lend ourselves to be somewhat conservative, to rely on the basic, exhaustive approach that has always worked for us in the past.
“Specifically, we have the facilities to experiment and test labs that offer us a variety of services and options. And before we fully market a new product, we test market thoroughly with an excellent cross section of manicurists. They tell us what is wrong with a given product … we are never concerned with what is right with it, that will take care of itself. We want to know the opposite. In this business, you can spend too much time looking at and for the benefits rather than looking for problems, and that is what will run you into snags every time. So I think that we are somewhat conservative in that sense.”
This “conservative” approach to product development is one that has been ingrained through the 16 years of work and experience in the beauty industry: It is a background that includes work as a salon owner, beauty supplier, manufacturers rep, manufacturer of sundry items, and currently, nail manufacturer. It is a background and depth that has proven basic manufacturing and business principles that continue to guide Nail Mate today … principles further shaped by Mel’s personal commitment to the quality of life, and by extension quality of product, of professionalism, of benevolence.
“We hope that our background helps us get from point A to point B with the greatest degree of success,” said Mel. “I think that we have been around long enough to have a pretty fundamental understanding of how the beauty industry functions on a full spectrum of levels: creatively, product inception, research and development, distribution and marketing.”
There are, however, a few things that still amaze him.
“Well, one of the most refreshing things about this industry is that at the manicurist level, everyone is anxious to share their knowledge and their technique … an attitude which for years we just didn’t have.
“You now,” Mel continued, “there is an old Chinese proverb that says that in order to master, we must teach our craft … otherwise we can never become a master. There may be truth to that…
“Sharing is the greatest joy on this planet,” he added, aware that he had strayed somewhat from the subject, but comfortable with his message nonetheless.
“I don’t mean to be philosophical, but it is the truth … everything we do in life pretty much that we remember, all the good times we had growing up and even today, really are time and things that we shared. And I think the same thing is true for business.”
This thought of sharing, as it relates to business, is intermingled with other thoughts on quality of life and creativity that at times muddies up the distinction between Mel King and Nail Mate. But as the two are themselves so intertwined, it is important to gain an insight into the man, his values and how they effect his company.
“There are two things that I think are of paramount importance … quality and creativity. I can never over emphasize the importance of quality in everything we do, starting with the quality of life itself. I believe that quality is important throughout life in everything … and certainly our work habits and style are part of that,” he said.
Mel believes there is a market for quality and believes that he can change that human reliance on the “same thing,” can change that “tunnel vision” with quality and the essence of his products.
“Too often, we get so burdened down that we don’t look at the opportunity that arises to increase the ease of our work through better tools, newer or faster techniques. It is so important that you be analytical, creative, open to the belief that you can do your job more effectively, better, more efficiently.