Mz. Vicki Gel Nails – Small Business Profile
Gel nails, they're a relatively new thing when it comes to manicures. I had never heard the term before, but then as a man, my interest is focused on looking at beautiful hands and nails, not understanding how they got that way.
I must admit the nail salon business has intrigued me a bit. I always wondered how one makes a living by making people’s nails look nice. It's such a niche business, indeed, and it seems to be one of the better small business ideas for those with that sort of talent.
Let’s take a closer look at someone who has been doing work like this for 30 years. A woman with beautiful hands and nails herself, Vicki Welke shows by example of how nails should be.
If you’re looking for gel nails in Cheyenne, you’ll find what you’re looking for under the business name of Mz. Vicki’s. A sole proprietor in Cheyenne since 2002, this business is operated out of a local beauty salon.
I visited with her recently to discuss how she got started, and to learn more about this special business focused on the tips of our fingers and toes. When I came calling, she was working with a customer in the application of gel nails. Perfect timing for some shots of the business in action.
It seems the scope of her business is much broader than I expected. In addition to gel nails, Vicki also does natural nails, nail art, and party nails. She also does pedicures.
Her business is well known and respected because of her focus on customer satisfaction, and because she stays on top of the latest technology when it comes to nail care.
Here's a lesson for all of us. If you are going to expand your business and maintain customer interest, stay on top of your game.
It all started when…
Vicki got into the business in 1978, as part of a natural intrigue. I suppose it helped a bit that her mother and sister are cosmetologists, and her brother-in-law is a barber. Seems like it’s in her family and in her blood.
Well, you have to follow your passion, and that’s exactly what Vicki has done.
In addition to being a nail technician, she also operated a nail technology academy for 4 years. At the academy, she gave morning and evening classes in a range of subjects including:
- muscles and nerves of the hands and feet
- circulatory system
- sanitary practices
- nail care
- nail art and design
It's about three months of training in all, and a must if you're going to be successful in this type of business.
How the business grows…
A business like this gets a good jump start if you become associated with a full service salon, like Vicki did. The business continues to grow by word of mouth. Satisfied customers refer others to Mz. Vicki’s Gel Nails, and the business builds. Discounts and incentives are also offered to seniors, military and referrals from customers.
Experience shows that advertising doesn’t boost the business as much as satisfied customers. I think this is always the case in a smaller community where the anonymity of a large city hasn’t set in yet.
Benefits of the business…
Like other small businesses, a big benefit of being in business for yourself is the whole idea of self direction, self determination and self satisfaction. It’s also nice that your work day can be as flexible as you want it to be.
In this type of business, you can have a regular work week or you can schedule lightly and have more time to yourself. Of course, you need to make certain the bills get paid, but after you’re comfortable with that, you have greater freedom to have more life and less work in your workweek.
On the flip side, with a small business like Mz. Vicki’s Gel Nails in Cheyenne, you can pack the calendar full of work and make a bigger success out of your business. Do you think your boss at work will give you additional hours so you can reach your financial goals? Yeah, right!
When you’re the only person in the organization, you’ll find that the boss is much more understanding about you needing more income. The boss will also expect more work out of you, but you can “call the shots” much better when you are at the helm.
Resources you’ll need…
There are several types of resources you’ll need for a gel nail business like this. Let’s take a look at them by category.
First, you’ll need training and certification. This end of the business requires about 350 hours of training and a certificate of successful completion. You won’t be recognized as a professional unless you have this training under your belt. Expect a cost of about $3,000 for this type of training. Prices of course will vary.
Second, you’ll need a license to perform the services. Part of the licensing process involves verification of training, appropriate facilities, and of course paying fees. A city like Cheyenne, Wyoming is like many other places; the state has a board of cosmetology, and the city issues a license as well. The cost of such things vary, but expect to pay somewhere in the range of $150 for the state and city licenses.
Third, a business like this needs a home. It doesn’t have to be a large home, but a booth in a beauty salon is a good start. That booth will have a workstation, shelves, drawers, and places for your tools and equipment.
Expect a booth rental of somewhere in the range of $250 a month. Expect more for higher cost of living areas or salons with higher traffic. Your rental should include all utilities. Other arrangements are possible, but a simple booth rental (just like a furnished apartment with all utilities paid) is easiest and very predictable.
Fourth, you’ll need resources to provide the services. Those resources include manual and power tools, materials, supplies, drying equipment, and ideally you’ll also have a source of ventilation to keep dust and fumes out of your work space for the comfort of your customers and you.
Okay, ready for the figure?
The upfront costs are in the neighborhood of $4,000 for a full complement of tools, equipment, materials and supplies for a comprehensive service offering for nails. This upfront cost can be minimized if you narrow the focus of the business to gel nails when you first start, and then expand your range of services as you build up your client base.
There are many factors that influence the gross revenue you should expect to see. These factors include what you charge, how many customers you serve and how often they come back for your services, the density of your work week and your hours of operation. Gross income in the range of $40K to $60K isn’t unreasonable to expect if you are doing this full time.
Challenges to overcome…
Some of the challenges of the business include physical strain. You are bending over quite a bit, so this can have an adverse effect on your back. Vicki advises that a 5 year lifespan on a business like this isn’t unusual because of issues associated with posture and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Another challenge is keeping up with the industry. You’ll need to stay abreast of the latest advances in nail care if you are to be a strong competitor in the business. This requires that you attend beauty conventions regularly to learn about new techniques, tools, equipment, materials and supplies.
Lastly, it seems to me that being a manicurist has its share of rules and regulations, and they don't always make sense. Just be prepared for restrictions on your trade, courtesy of those helpful people from the government.
Well, what more needs to be said of Mz. Vicki’s Gel Nails in Cheyenne to show off her achievements? She has many satisfied customers, her business is thriving, she has 4 years experience running Mz. Vicki’s Academy of Nail Technology, she’s a 30 year veteran in the business and her license is recognized in two other states.
I’m impressed to say the least.
Special message from our featured entrepreneur…
Vicki has a pleasant demeanor and seems very happy with her chosen profession. She has to be with all her satisfied customers. She wants all the budding gel nail technicians to know that “every hand is different and each one presents its own challenges”.
She also wants you to know that there are many non-licensed nail salons out there that can make a bad name for those practicing the trade within the law. As a consumer, the choice is always yours, but know that there is a difference in training and qualifications for those that are licensed.
And, if you want your small business ideas to flourish, they probably need to stay within the law.
Also, Vicki advises that a nail salon can be a difficult environment to work in for the beginner, so you might just try things on your own at a beauty salon that you feel comfortable with.
If you are in the market for gel nails, nail art or something similar, here is how you reach our featured entrepreneur, Vicki Welke:
Done with Gel Nails, take me back to Small Businesses