MOBILE Manicurist AND Pedicurist…how they are changing the industry
by Kyriaki Maria Grigoriou
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pamper yourself with a nice mani-pedi at the comfort of your own… workspace? Well, some lucky girls -and guys- have been enjoying onsite manicures at work for a while now! How, you may ask? Well, lately quite a few mobile manicure and pedicure companies have popped up, that are eager to offer their services at a fraction of the cost of a regular manicure that you might be used to getting at a good old salon.
These professionals are dispatched to corporate offices and stores by mobile manicure companies, and their services are often paid for by their clients’ employers themselves, as an added bonus! Instead of spending an hour (or more) to visit a licensed salon, this arrangement allows their employees to look their best, while spending their time way more efficiently. Furthermore, these mobile services can offer manis and pedis during working hours, which is something traditional salons can’t do.
For example, take Manicube; a very successful Boston-based startup, which was founded by two Harvard Business School graduates, Elizabeth Whitman and Katina Mountanos, in an effort to create a salon-type business without real estate costs and other overhead expenses, which would help working women save time and money. Their licensed manicurists visit their clients’ companies once per week or on a monthly basis, and they offer 15$ manicures in vacant conference rooms or in corporate gym spaces!
Another good example is Pamper, an on-demand mani-pedi company which operates in the San Francisco Bay area. They work with 10 manicurists, whom they refer to as ‘artists’, and they connect them with their clients, handling 10 to 15 appointments per day! They view this whole mobile trend as a way for manicurists to ensure that they get paid fairly, as nail salons often take advantage of them in order to lower their prices -not to mention the awful working conditions they are often forced to endure! Joining Pamper allows manicurists to enjoy the benefits of working for a company -such as being able to buy the tools of their trade in bulk- while still maintaining a good amount of their professional freedom.
Furthermore, this new business model doesn’t really require a lot of cash upfront, according to the founders; it only needs a small clientele to get going! Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? A win-win situation for everyone involved!
Well, not quite; these companies have faced lots of scrutiny from the board that is responsible for licensing salons and cosmetologists, which claims that their way of operating is breaking every regulation they have set in place, and is therefore illegal! Nail salons are required to pass various inspections in order to ensure that they are maintaining proper hygienic standards, and that they are complying with their state’s regulations. However, mobile manicure and pedicure companies claim that these sets of rules are archaic, and report that they are often dealt with in new, innovative ways that still maintain very high standards.
For example, the rules state that every nail salon should sterilize their equipment frequently, however mobile manicurists, who couldn’t possibly sterilize their equipment after each and every use, have dealt with this issue by resorting to disposable implements, instead! Why should anyone have a problem with that?
Well, the truth is that most issues raised by the board are not so easily rectified. For example, mobile professionals can’t carry first aid kits and eye washing stations with them, nor can their own hygiene, work environment and compensation be guaranteed. Besides, wouldn’t it be unfair to the established nail salons, which are required to spend vast amounts of money in order to get their licences, to allow their mobile competitors to operate under a completely different, more lax set of regulations? Why should the board’s strict regulations apply only to traditional nail salons, when their clients could easily opt for office manicures, instead, since they are also much cheaper?
The regulators sure have their work cut out for them! In our opinion, this situation, which reminds of of the mobile taxi services controversy, calls for an entirely new set of rules, an innovative list of regulations that will protect the workers and also ensure the public’s health and protection, while allowing them to choose from a wide variety of safe, high quality services, so that even the most archaic business models will be able to adapt to the times.