Fashion and fantasy have always been intertwined, creating that which is exciting, flashy, flamboyant, striking, unusual...attributes that reflect personal statements of who we are or, as in some cases, who we think we are.

There is however one attribute that is often over locked in the nail industry, that of profit. Fashion, for the profit-oriented nail artist and salon, extends to the complete presentation of nails and includes such elements as detailed painting, stripes, feathers, decals and a boggling assortment of charms, gems, initials, expressions and now names...all representing a potential profit for the nail artist and a fashionable style statement for the client.

One company that specializes in this fashionable fantasy and recognized as the first to offer such items to the industry, is Fashion For Your Fingertips, the brainchild of entrepreneur Jim Mitchell.

Jim’s role in the industry began some seven years ago, with what he refers to as his first real moves, talking charms.

“I think one of our first talking charms was ‘76 Grad” made of 14 kt gold,” remarked Jim, during the first of several interviews.

It was the unexpected success of the charms made initially as a special order for several customers, that opened Jim’s mind and eyes to the potentials of the nail jewelry.

“And now, over the years, we have moved from basic charms to initials to declarations and now to names, a new item that we have just started to explore.

“This has opened up virtually millions of possibilities and combinations that the nail artist can offer to her clientele and profit from.”

Jim currently offers a full line of nail jewelry, including thousands of charms, initials, diamond the ruby studs, expressions and names. His approach has been simple: to offer quality in well-designed work with the added touch of special order capability: “it you don’t find what you are looking for, we will make it.” His attitude about his company’s work is as straight forward. “The better we can make it, the more likely we will make it.”

“I’m not a merchant,” he remarked, when asked what distinguishes his firm from others serving the industry.

“I consider myself more of an inventor, an artist, with a very real concern for style, design and for the standard of quality that a jeweler would expect. In a way, we are a jeweler’s jeweler, continually interested in making new designs and doing it the best way possible.”

In an effort to summarize his company’s and his personal philosophy, Jim offered the following statement:

“What it boils down to is this ... every one of us has some appreciation for art, for design or style, and we have a difficult time finding what it is that we like. Often when we do find it, it is poorly made and sold by merchants, those interested in only turning a profit.

“Now I don’t mean to say that profit isn’t part of my motivation, it’s just that turning a well made, designed product that I am proud of is more so.

“So consequently, if the manicurist or retailing salon is interested in style, design and quality, then they will find something that satisfies that need or, and this is important, they can tell me what they want and I will make it for them.”

The advantage that Jim often returns to when discussing his company is that Fashion For Your Fingertips offers a profit potential and appeal of original designs combined with the availability of a broad selection of existing pieces.

The profit inherent in jewelry is often overlooked, explained Jim, because the nail artist is unaware of how to sell the product or what it takes to set up a program.

“We offer help in both areas,” he continued “With a minimum investment of $250, the manicurist can get a sample set of designs in each category of nail jewelry; graphic designs, expressions, gem stones, and solid gold nails. This selection is of our best sellers and should enable even someone unfamiliar with jewelry to make 100 percent a month minimum. It’s easy for the nail artist to make an extra $1,000 a year off a minimal investment, and that does not include the peak buying season, the holidays, that are rapidly approaching.”

Jim’s confidence in the profitability of his pieces stems from the availability and the emphasis on “original” designs.

“We do new designs and ask for them from our clients because we love the opportunity to be challenged and creative and excited about a new style. And if someone does come up with a charm or design that they want based on their client’s needs, we offer that service for a reasonable price. What we are offering the manicurist and her customers is the capability to make any design they want... and to do so with quality at a reasonable price.”

Availability of his product line is enhanced by his massive inventory ... which allows Jim to promise delivery within a week of the order.

“We stock about 5,000 different designs, about two or three dozen for each one,” he said. “And the same holds true for our initials, expressions and names. So if someone calls and wants a hundred pieces of just one, it goes out within the day or two, which means that they will have it in less than a week.”

The depth of his inventory can best be illustrated by the category of nail names.

“I have names in stock such as Dianne, Dyann, Diane, Dyanne, and Diann, not to mention the conventional spelling of Diana. In names alone, we probably have two to three thousand pieces in stock just because it is impossible to know what somebody is going to ask for.”

If an order is placed for an unusual name, Jim will make a mold and then make two or three just for stock... the same procedure he follows for all his product line.

“Consequently, because we create new designs every day, and add to our stock those designs in quantity, we can offer the selection and availability of pieces the nail artist needs to satisfy her client’s select preference.”

This commitment to inventory has created some minor problems for Fashion For Your Fingertips ... they add designs faster than their catalog can keep up. Mitchell’s next step to control his rapidly growing stock is to computerize.

“In that way, as new orders of designs are added to our line, they can be punched directly into the computer under the proper category,” explained Jim. “Then with the printing capability of the system, we can print out a complete list of our line once a month and make that available to the nail artist. The system will also have a detailed inventory control program that will enable us to constantly know what we have in stock and how many at the push of a button.”

The sheer volume of designs and styles offered by the firm also hampers the effective showing of the line at the different trade shows that Fashion. For Your Fingertips attends.

This is being remedied by the development of new show cases, specially designed and built to Mitchell’s specifications.

“Because we are always interested in improving, interested in new products, we found that we rapidly outgrow our show cases. Consequently we have designed bigger and more efficient ways of displaying our product than what is available in standard show cases,” he explained. “By the next show, Jack Sperling’s in Los Angeles, we should have a near complete showing of our product line.”

Jim’s emphasis on his product and his firm’s capability runs a close second to his stated philosophy regarding those that work with him. Often during the course of the interview he would remark on the importance of his staff, now numbering 30, and his belief in them.

“Anyone, once a project is done, can reproduce anything. But the difference is that we have a group of strong, experienced and talented people that can come up with new ideas and styles and can produce them right.

“In the long run, a true measure of a company is its people ... and their development is more important than the product. People, the ability to get along, to learn from, to appreciate and to help are the only true thing of value. To give to someone, to be treated as you would want to be treated and to learn from each other... that is what is important.”

The combination of philosophies both personal and company appear to be of a considerable asset to the firm, as their growth and product line attests. The artistic concerns of fashion and fantasy, the ability to manufacture original designs, and the extensive inventory of thousands of products enables Fashion For Your Fingertips to respond quickly to the demands of the nail artist and her clientele and to explore new areas for product development.

All of this means for Jim Mitchell, that the age-old intertwining of fashion and fantasy continues to create a charming way for everyone to profit.

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