Buying Cheap Knock-Off Products Might Be Costing You More Than You Think

by Elizabeth Morris | April 11, 2016 | Bookmark +

A note from Holly: Please help me welcome back guest blogger Elizabeth Morris, creator of The Nail Hub! She has another powerful message and I hope you will all take it to heart.


Buying Cheap Knock-Off Products Might Be Costing You More Than You Think 

We’ve probably all done it at one point or another. We’ve gone to an online auction site or foreign discount site to buy nail products. The draw to “save money” is very strong. Why pay $15.95 a bottle when you can get almost the same thing for $4? The logic makes sense. But what effect does this behavior have on you and your business? And does the ripple effect stop there?

There’s a big difference between buying authentic products on sale and buying cheap, no-name knock-offs. The obvious impact you will see is in the quality. That new gel-polish you just got from “” that reeks of burnt hair and spray paint probably isn’t good for you or your clients. Are you even sure that it’s safe? Your gut tells you something is off, yet you decide it’s “good enough” and it’s saving you money so it must be okay. You’re taking on unnecessary amounts of liability by using products that don’t abide by U.S. regulations, and your simple action also has a lot of other repercussions.

Everything starts out alright until your client comes back with her nails chipping and peeling. The colors fade out. Or the gel you applied won’t come off. Not only does this lack in quality have an effect on you as the nail tech, but it also is something your clients will notice and can cause them to lose faith in your abilities and your knowledge. 

By choosing not to support the businesses within your own industry you are in part helping to stagnate the industry. The indie brands and professional companies who spend a ton on research and development trying to come up with better and safer products for us to use won’t be able to do so any longer if we all stop supporting them.  You can’t imagine the amount of money that goes into formulating and testing a new product, let alone all the licensing and fees that need to be paid to different governmental agencies. And these companies didn’t just magically appear out of nowhere. They all got their start in someone’s living room or garage. At one point someone said, “You know what? I’m tired of not having a product that works the way I want so I’m going to make one myself.” And what you see today is literally the result of years, if not decades, of money invested, hard work, sleepless nights, and persistence. These companies both big and small have also had to consistently produce products that people are actually willing to buy! If they make crappy products then no-one will buy them. Therefore, the companies that stick around are the ones that have made a difference and continue to do so.

When you buy products from a knock-off company you are enabling and rewarding companies who haven’t put in the same time or the effort. They have taken someone else’s hard work and a product that is already successful and have copied it for the mere chance to make a buck. They don’t care whether it makes you successful and you’ll never see the faces behind these copy-cat companies attending tradeshows and educating their clients. They could care less about you as long as you’re buying their cheap-o products.  So who would you rather support? Legit businessmen and women that care about their products and care about our industry? Or would you rather support mystery people who have done nothing but cheat and reproduce? 

Now a lot of you reading this are probably thinking, “Well I can’t afford the pro products.”  This is your red flag! If you are working as a nail tech and the prices you charge aren’t able to cover the price of professional products, you have a major financial problem. This is the crux of the issue. Instead of realizing that there’s something askew with the way you’re charging clientele, you’re writing off the higher expense and opting to cut corners. Cutting corners for the sake of saving money leads to you having to charge less because you can’t offer the quality required to charge appropriately.  This also means that you’re attracting cheap clients. It is a vicious cycle that leads nowhere but down.  Example:  Fast food restaurants charge what they do because their food is lower quality than that of a nice steak house. They don’t carefully select each piece of meat before cooking or serving it. They just slap it together and let you eat it. Fast food restaurants attract very different clientele than nice steak houses. And even people with less disposable income still visit nice steak houses for special occasions because they see the increased value in the quality and experience. So would you rather aspire to be the fast food of nail salons or the nice fancy steak house of nail salons? Committing to offering the highest quality services and products is the key to setting yourself apart and to raising the standard. If you can’t afford to do this then you’re not charging enough for your work. 

On top of the downward slope that is caused inside your business (the constant cutting here and there to make ends meet, there is a psychological effect from using knock-off products. A scientific study was actually done that analyzed the effects of purchasing knock-off products. You can read the whole study here. This study centered around knock-off fashion items, but the overall psychological effect is the same regardless of the product. 

When you opt to purchase a knock-off you are telling yourself it’s okay to do the wrong thing. This mentality has a huge effect on your confidence because subconsciously you don’t feel good about what you’re doing. You can see this effect across almost all people that cut corners like this. They lack confidence because they take no pride in their work. This lack of confidence will inhibit you from getting to the next level because deep down you will believe that you don’t deserve to be successful. I have seen this first hand with a lot of nail techs I have counseled.  Deep down they don’t believe they are doing a good job so they self-sabotage, they do the bare minimum, and they continue to point the finger of blame at outside sources instead of realizing that they have complete control over their own success. 

The mentality caused by purchasing knock-offs also makes it feel more comfortable to “cheat” or cut corners in other areas.  I’ve also seen this first hand where a nail tech starts their career wanting to be the best of the best. They throw away files after each client. They sanitize everything properly.  But because they aren’t charging the prices that are correct for their business, they start to feel the pain of expense. Pretty soon they are re-using supplies and they’re buying cheaper and cheaper to make ends meet. This is a very common problem and stems from the fact that no-one has taught you how much to charge.  You don’t have to go invest in $1,000 gel-polish, but make sure that the products you are choosing for your business aren’t taking a larger toll than you think. 

The solution to this problem is to step back and take a look at the foundation of your business. Are you charging the right prices? And this is exactly what I will be covering next. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will be walking you through step-by-step instructions on how to calculate exactly how much you should be charging for your services!

-Elizabeth Morris, @thenailhub,


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