27 Sep, Sunday
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Readers’ Choice: Nailed

Salt Lake City—For years, pedicures were a luxury service that few could afford. Then came express salons, the type you see in strip malls, that introduced affordable pedicures to an entire market that had never experienced the luxury service before. Now there’s something new. Combine the quality of service you’d find at a luxury spa or high-end salon with the convenience and affordable pricing of express salons and you’d get a salon like Nailed.

Nailed is the brainchild of Tricia Bennion, who got the idea while taking her daughter to get a pedicure. “I was thinking, wow, this is a completely new industry that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” she said. “I got the idea right there: I’m going to open one and I think I can do it better.”

Thirteen years and plenty of awards later, Nailed has changed the game for nail salons nationwide. “I was literally one of the first people in the country to have this idea of competing with the express salons, and hire employees to do the work, rather than what previously in the field was booth renters,” Bennion said. “It opened the market up to people coming in together, like mothers and daughters coming in together, to get pedicures because you didn’t have to have an appointment, and there was the capability to serve up to 10 people at a time in my store.”

With an emphasis on making the salon experience more social and user friendly came the need to push ahead in another area sorely lacking in the industry: hygiene. Nailed used to bring in a podiatrist to train the aestheticians in foot hygiene, but it has recently established a more formal relationship, where the doctor oversees its hygiene protocols and makes sure they are up to medical standards.

Also intriguing is the fastest-growing segment of clientele—men make up about 15 percent of Nailed’s customers. “It’s just as important for men to take care of their feet, and it doesn’t have to be about aesthetics, it can be about grooming and caring for your feet,” said Bennion. “We have a lot of runners, we’ve had some people from the University of Utah football team.”

Nailed experienced the pains of the learning curve, like any new business, but without the convenience of having other business models to reference. Things really took off, surprisingly, during the recession. “The recession was actually a real boost for my business, because whereas women couldn’t go to Europe that year, they could come get a pedicure.”

Bennion further distilled her idea by graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. She said the program affirmed that she had found a niche market and that she needed to expand.

While other salons have started to copy this business model, Nailed remains at the cutting edge as the original pioneer of this business model. Nailed has a second location opening in September in Millcreek, which will add hair stylists to its list of services.

For more information, visit Nailed at www.nailedboutique.com.