When you're in your local nail salon getting a manicure and a guy walks in for a treatment, do you judge him? Do you give him the side-eye because you don't want any--eww--males in your serene space? Well, even if you don't do either of these things, guys who go to nail salons feel like you do. That's why one LA entrepreneur is opening an all-male nail salon, called Hammer & Nails.
Screenwriter Michael Elliot (he wrote Just Wright, a romantic comedy starring Common and Queen Latifah) had an "a-ha" moment when he went to a nail salon in LA and struck up a conversation with the only other dude in the place. "It was just clear that we both felt uncomfortable, and we talked about how uncomfortable this is. I asked a lot of my other guy friends about their experiences and realized I wasn’t alone," Elliot told me. "I have always hated going to get a mani just because of that feeling of walking in the door and it seems like all the women kind of look at you like, 'What are you doing here?' and it’s just awful."
Hammer & Nails, which opens on Melrose Avenue in LA on November 9, is designed to look like a man-cave. The chairs are oversize leather, there's a vintage punching bag from the 1940's, and everyone gets his own TV and headphones, complete with a selection of premium sports channels. (I guess guys aren't into engaging in nail salon gossip.) There will also be a selection of free beverages. Elliot doesn't have a liquor license yet, but the goal is to offer complimentary beer and scotch.
The menu includes a standard manicure for $25 and a pedicure for $30. He acknowledges that his prices are about 20% higher than an average salon--he says he's going for a more luxury vibe, and it's difficult to stay as competitive as the more traditional salons do.
And the manicures won't necessarily all involve just a buff or clear polish. "I do plan to offer [colored polishes] here. It wasn't my original plan until I read an article in the New York Times very recently about this growing popularity of colors for guys," Elliot said. "So I want to make that available here as well."
Elliot's goal is to get red-blooded American males to engage in regular nail care. "There’s this misconception that only metrosexual men would get a mani or pedi, or only gay men," Elliot said. "I want to make nail care as common as getting a haircut and I feel like creating the right environment is key to that." He thinks that there's an untapped market out there of men who have never had a manicure because the typical nail salon is too intimidating, but who want to try one.
T&A won't be a part of the draw at the salon, though. I asked him about hiring Hooters-style nail techs and he said, "Absolutely not. In fact the very first nail tech I hired has been doing men’s manicures for 38 years." Elliot's goal is to hire techs who enjoy working on men's nails and who have a lot of experience doing so.
While some of Elliot's friends think he's nuts (the whole business venture is self-funded), he's confident he has a winning concept. He hopes to open another Hammer & Nails LA outpost within 12 months, and to start franchising in 2014. He says he's already received inquiries about franchise opportunities.
I actually think this whole concept makes a lot of sense. And I think you'd have more luck getting your boyfriend into a place like this to get his disgusting feet taken care of than into your standard girly salon.