The nail industry is truly global, but its roots are deeply American, At the foundation of what is considered today’s professional nail industry are products and companies that originated in the United States. It’s not news that the French Manicure started in Hollywood of all places (Orly claims credit for coming up with this technique) or that, a company named European Touch Ltd. II makes fine pedicure equipment right in America’s heartland.

Although the U.S. has the largest number of practicing nail techs and the most nail salons, the international market is expanding at a rate faster than the U.S. market. We are assembling new statistics on the international scene, including how many nail techs practice worldwide, licensing and educational requirements around the globe, and how average prices compare from country to country. Look for that information in a few months.

A lot is happening in the Japanese nail business. Read more about it in Hannah Lee’s report on her recent trip to Japan for a Nail Olympics competition to see how, in one decade, Japanese nailists (as they’re called in Japan) have eclipsed even the American technicians who brought the techniques there originally. You’ll note several Japanese names in the finalists and entrants for our 4th Annual Cover Contest, including this year’s winner, Ami Seki.

And we introduce a new column this month called Four Cities. It’s a look at business trends in four different U S cities. We’ll occasionally even take this column to a global level. We asked nail techs from four corners of the United States what their current best-selling retailing item is. You might find it as interesting as we did that toe rings are hot sellers even in early fall in the Northeast even when few people are wearing sandals. That bodes well for your retail opportunities.

I’m intrigued by international differences, as well as regional differences in the U.S. We found, in putting together the statistics for our Big Book, that Oregon is the most crowded state, with 17,806 nail tech licensees in just 614 nail salons (that’s an average of 29 in the salon, although many of those likely practice in full-service salons) South Dakota is the least dense, with 38 nail techs in 55 salons. Who’s getting the highest service prices? Hawaii, for one. Perhaps tourists are willing to pay premium rates (Hannah also goes On the Road to Hawaii) and likely the expense of getting products and the fact that there are only 190 nail techs in the Aloha State account for that. We’re looking forward to discovering more about regional preferences with this new department, and welcome your input on topics you’re interested in.

For me, I love to look at the differences, but more interesting is what is the same: a $6.53 billion business that, provides jobs that promote self-esteem and allow many women (and a growing number of men) the flexibility to earn a decent living and raise a family.

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