Q&A with Patti Biro of Patti Biro and Associates

December 27, 2016 | Bookmark +

Q: Im a solo nail tech. What’s the best way to dip my toe into selling retail without a huge cash outlay to start with? And what should I sell? 


A: Congratulations! By taking a step forward with retail you are not only building your brand, you are building loyalty and increasing your opportunity for rebooking. The easiest retail products to sell are items you currently use in your services or products that will help your clients maintain their nails between appointments. Ask your current distributors if they have retail sizes of your most popular products and other items for home care. Since you already have a relationship with them, ask for small minimums, starter packs, and samples to share. You can test what sells well and reorder as needed.

If you want to branch out into other retail lines or boutique items, locate a distributor that has a wide selection of retail items and no minimums. Many distributors will offer good terms to new clients and may also provide free or discounted shipping. If you find a product line that you want to try, start with just a small initial order. If the vendor or distributor asks for a large order, explain your situation and don’t be afraid to ask for a lower minimum buy. Research pays off. Always ask a distributor or vendor what their top-selling products are. Ask if they have other similar nail salons as clients and what sells well for them.

Wholesale trade and gift shows often have a “cash and carry” section where you can buy small quantities of retail products. If you want to bring in jewelry or other handcrafted items you may be able to work out a consignment arrangement that will not require you to spend any money upfront. You simply share a portion of the sale price with the vendor.
Good luck with your retail aspirations. Remember to start small, track what sells well, and take suggestions from your clients.

— Patti Biro, founder of Patti Biro and Associates (

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How can I cut costs and finally make a profit?

I’ve been doing nails for almost two years and have built a decent clientele. The only problem is, I did the math and over 50% of my income is going back into nail products. I’m using top-of-the-line brands and disposable files. How can I cut costs and finally make a profit? I know our prices are too low as well, but we are trying to stay competitive. Any advice?

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As a mobile tech, how do I ensure I get paid?

I have a question about working as a mobile tech. When clients book group events or nail parties, how do you go about getting deposits and payments? Have you ever traveled to a client’s house and they were unable to pay? What did you do?

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What should I do differently with male clients?

I’m starting to get more and more male clients. I am wondering how long a manicure for a man should last and how to price it? Also do you have any recommendations on what else I can do to give them an extra masculine sense of comfort?

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Should I Use Punch Cards?

I recently started working at a high-end salon and I’m looking for marketing ideas. Should I do punch cards? I can’t do “refer-a-friend” because I don’t have consistent clients yet. We are already doing social media.

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Should I start requiring a nonrefundable deposit for special-time appointments?

I want to start requiring a nonrefundable deposit for special-time appointments. My posted hours are 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. by appointment only. I am ridiculously flexible with my schedule, and let people book earlier and later if they can’t get in during normal hours. Recently, I had a 7:30 a.m. no-show! She was supposed to get services totaling over $100, and I forfeited holiday plans to accommodate her. She comes every two weeks, so I can’t lose her, but this is the second time she’s no-showed. What should I do? And how would I go about informing current clients of the new policy on off-hour deposits?

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