Made in the USA. These words are beginning to appear proudly on more and more American-made goods, while across the country there is a resurgence of pride in American craftsmanship. These days, a significant number of U.S. manufacturers are striving to regain dominance in the global marketplace.
In the nail industry, Nailmate is a company that exemplifies this conservative, if not downright patriotic trend. Nailmate owner and president, Mel King, is committed to this approach as he directs his company through the nail industry’s maze of product fads and trends.
In this industry it’s necessary to establish the difference between a fad and a trend. A fad is temporary and soon forgotten. A trend, on the other hand, starts, grows and grows, and becomes a basic in what we do. At Nailmate, we’re looking for trends, not fads and gimmicks.
In a business that is momentum-driven, as the nail and beauty industries tend to be, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to introduce the latest products, which may or may not be beneficial to the industry or profitable to a company in the long run.
Nailmate, however, recognizes the importance of long-term planning. As many other business owners are just beginning to learn, Mel knows that the short-term expedient approach to products, problems or keeping up with the competition could leave Nailmate at a disadvantage in the future.
Unwilling to sacrifice the future for a passing fad, Mel consistently reaffirms the need for researching industry products and trends.
By understanding industry trends, Mel believes Nailmate has developed along with the nail industry. “Our growth parallels industry growth. We started 3½ years ago manufacturing abrasives. We have since expanded our product line to include almost every aspect of the nail business to date.”
Mel emphasized the word “almost” because of Nailmate’s conservative approach to product development. From the company’s inception, Nailmate has been dedicated to the fundamental tools of the nail trade and to product quality. So before committing to a product, he wants to be sure he is investing in a trend, not a fad.
In fact, Mel readily admits that Nailmate is often late with product introductions. When a new product or concept surfaces in the industry, Nailmate takes the time to evaluate its viability. Mel refuses to duplicate a product just because it’s in demand. If the product has credibility and longevity, if it’s functional and marketable, only then will Nailmate look for ways to improve it.
For this purpose, Nailmate has laboratory facilities for experimenting and testing. Mel looks for the right conditions and the right quality of materials. Then he adds the “Nailmate touch.” Next, the product is carefully test marketed before being released to the industry for use. It is a time-consuming process, but one that Nailmate adheres to.
A case in point is Nailmate’s latest product introductions: Acutip and Acugrip. Tips and glue are certainly not new to the industry, but they illustrate Nailmate’s conservative stance.
“We’re years behind in the introduction of tips because for a long time we couldn’t get the right combination of features and quality,” Mel explained. After an exhaustive search, however, Nailmate finally found that combination.
“The Acutip mold we use now is made in the U.S. by a large manufacturer of cold steel products’. With this American company we are able to get a refinement and sophistication we can’t get anywhere else.”
Mel elaborated a bit, saying, “Acutips have a thin matrix, which is hairline thin so there’s less of a demarkation line than with other tips. And the thickness of the tip is the same .as a natural nail. By comparison, other tips are too thick and heavy.
“As a companion product to Acutip, we have introduced a new nail glue — Acugrip, which is pH-adjusted and hypo-allergenic,” he says.
“It is my feeling that the real future of Nailmate, and for the manicurist and nail artist, lies in nail tips. Tips are the way of the future,” Mel contends. “They’re the safest, most attractive system; they have a life of four to six weeks, long enough to grow the natural nails out to where you can wrap them.
“For that reason, we have made a long-range commitment to multiple molds, offering different types and shapes of tips, the first of which is Acutip.”
The design benefits of Acutips are listed right on the Acutip package:
A. Anatomically correct natural nail shape.
B. Patented stop for precision application.
C. Natural nail color and texture.
D. Micro-thin matrix base for natural appearance.
E. Made in the USA for quality, design, manufacture, material.
“For us, ‘E’ is the most important. That last line say it all.” Mel emphasizes that this statement demonstrates Nailmate’s commitment to American quality.
Mel firmly believes that his products are of the best quality he can possibly offer because of their origins. His enthusiasm for American-made products is much like the current television commercials where Bob Hope and other celebrities announce that their clothing is made in the USA and that it’s important to them.
Mel’s enthusiasm doesn’t quite compare to the way Bruce Springsteen proclaims that he’s Born in the USA — their styles are too different. Nonetheless he sees a very strong conservative trend in the United States. He’s excited to see this developing trend because he has been committed to conservative ways, particularly in his approach to business and products, for such a long time.
Another trend that he recognizes as significant is an insistence on quality. Mel sees it in every phase of American life, as well as specifically in the nail and beauty industries.
“Perhaps we’ve become spoiled. We want our nice homes and nice cars. In fashion, for example, not only do we look for style, we also look for good fabrics and we look to see how well something is made,” Mel says.
This is in keeping with an increased tendency among consumers to demand quality in all products and services. At the same time, the American worker is acquiring a new sense of pride in American workmanship. It is evidence that people are buying and manufacturing for the long term.
As it pertains to the nail industry, this means that clients want nice looking nails that last a long time; nail technicians want to keep their clients on a long-term basis, so they want to use the best products and provide the best service.
Mel has worked to establish a place for Nailmate in this kind of market. “We strive to offer products that allow the manicurist to choose for herself which products and services she wants to offer to clients — whether it’s wraps, tips, acrylics or basic manicuring.” As an aside, he adds, “We consider basic manicuring to be a very important part of the business.”
And Mel has certainly been around long enough to understand how the beauty industry functions and to see how his conservative ideas fit in. His 17-year background in the industry has seen him in the roles of salon owner, beauty supplier, manufacturer’s rep and manufacturer of beauty and nail products. As a result of his varied experience, Mel is comfortable with all aspects of the business, from product inception, research and development, to distribution and marketing.
“Now we’re becoming more aggressive in the national marketplace. We’ve made a commitment to the tip business because we think that’s the way to go. It’s definitely a significant trend,” Mel affirms.
The many products that Nailmate offers to technicians began with the most basic tools of the trade: emery boards. From there, the product line grew to include an extensive array of items from which the technician may choose: replaceable files, nail squares, Split-Second glue, brushes, nail forms, fillers, Buff N Gloss, silk and linen wraps, liquid and powder, and of course Acutips and Acugrip.
With each product introduction, Nailmate proved to have an understanding of product and the needs of the professional.
“We are constantly looking for new and better methods. By looking at fundamental products in analytical and creative ways, Nailmate strives to help the manicurist do her job more effectively and more efficiently. The key is in better tools, newer and faster techniques,” Mel believes.
This is most evident in Nailmate’s commitment to design perfection. “However,” he cautions, “you have to remember that the design is worthless without proper application. Until you learn how to use a product, it’s just junk.”
Nailmate caters to the professional who already knows how to use products and can benefit from Nailmate’s high quality fundamental tools. Specifically, Mel cites the nail file as a basic tool of the professional that can be the “greatest villan” when misused. A lot of damage can occur, for example, by notching the nail where the base meets the free edge, causing the nail to split and break off. But the professional who knows proper use of a file can benefit from the design features of Nailmate abrasives.
It was this approach to the basics for the nail professional that enabled Mel to conceptualize Nailmate’s role in the industry and to give vision and clarity to the company’s overall direction.
Never one to be shortsighted, he has studied the trends. He has applied his conservative philosophy to his long-range view of the industry. Mel understands that short-term myopia can cause a company to die, even in a growing industry like the nail industry. With a foundation built on fundamentals, Nailmate has proven to be a survivor.
For more information, contact Nailmate at 11054 McCormick, North Hollywood, CA 91601 or phone (818) 506-6773.