Have you ever wondered whether you should ditch it all to become a professional nail tech? Would now be a good time to get into the nail business even if we’re sliding into uncharted waters? Is it true that the nail industry might even be considered recession-proof? We know for sure that with the starts and stops of daily operations in compliance with stay-at-home orders, for now the industry is not pandemic-proof where health and safety are concerned. However, people around the world, with varying amounts of downtime are getting creative and finding ways to ride out the unexpected economic downturn due to Covid-19. Nails seem to be a possible new enterprise or welcome distraction some are turning to now when traditional avenues of employment are at an unfamiliar crossroads.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RECESSIONS
As a business in operation for over twenty years, we are completely aware that the economy comes in waves with its own highs and lows. We have a mental map of the more recent hard times first hand. Who remembers The Great Recession, aka the subprime mortgage crisis that collapsed the US housing bubble? It took place from December 2007 - June 2009, and lasted for a year and a half. Then there was the economic recession in the early 2000s brought on amid the fear of Y2K digital terror, the collapse of the dot.com bubble and the fear and uncertainty that followed the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. This time it lasted eight months. All of those moments felt huge and particularly scary when you can’t see a clear way out. Yet with time, what goes up; must come down and then it goes back up all over again. Economists have a term for this, it’s called Cyclical Unemployment. “Cyclical Unemployment is a consequence of business cycles: opportunity knocks, companies create jobs because they believe they can turn opportunity into jobs and profits, and eventually supply exceeds demand. Once there is not enough economic demand to create a job for everyone seeking employment, layoffs occur.” Unpredictable as it might feel; it’s important to remember that the rough times don't last forever. By the look of it, periods of immense growth tend to take a dip in the cycle every ten years or so.
THE WONDER FLOAT
In our experience, the nail industry so far has a unique ability to stay afloat during some of the more hard times when our US economy was getting crushed. What was once called the Lipstick Effect, a phrase coined in 2001 by Leonard Lauder, chairman of the makeup company Estee Lauder, to highlight the affordable luxury product that has historically been able to withstand a recession, today it is now being referred to as the Nail Polish Effect. The economic data is suggesting when the economy takes a down turn especially during the 2008 mortgage crisis, nail polish was the fastest growing category in the global beauty and personal care industry. What did it look like for us already in nails? In 2008, when real estate and banking institutions took a huge hit, the nail business was still doing very good in Redding, CA a small Northern California construction town where Tracey was based. Even early on in our careers during the 2000s, the nail business (salon and even distribution) was still a good place to make a living. It remained rather unaffected by the dot.com bubble burst when Amazon and Ebay were born and other overinflated internet businesses’ stocks took a major nose dive. In good or bad times, people still want to have their nails done. We see that now during the pandemic in 2020.
ALL THE FEELS
Where our salon counterparts like hair stylists, masseuses, aestheticians experience greater hardships during a recession, nail professionals and nail aficionados always find a way. It’s a low priced entry point of luxury. It’s also something that comes with the lasting power of a couple weeks. Nails are not a necessity but they do make people feel good. It's affordable when you have to forego other luxury items like a vacation or meals out. Nails are a diversion that don’t break the bank. Some people might not be able to afford rent this month, but they find a way to pay for the much needed emotional boost that comes with mani/pedi. Let’s face it; a set of nails is cheaper than a couple round of drinks at the bar without the nasty hangover.
The bottom line here is if you have always loved the nail industry but never felt like you could make a career of it, now is the time to reinvent yourself. Maybe you went the corporate route but you really hate your job. Nails might just give you your life back. We encourage you to do what your heart is telling you. We understand that some might not have the flexibility when it comes to financial risk. You have to make money and you have to earn a living. Just consider what your life may look and feel like if you could direct your time 100% towards something you love that also has great earning potential. If you’re trying to transition out of a dead end job or unemployment, right now is a good time to try a life of nails. Beauty schools have never been more accessible because many are now available through online distance learning. Imagine you can earn credits towards your cosmetology license from the comfort of your own home! You’ll learn proper disinfection and sanitization procedures. At the same time, you can learn a lot of the exciting nail art/sculpting techniques on YouTube. There are an infinite supply of educational resources available online. If you love nails and it’s your passion. Go for it.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD
From the looks of it, the Nail Polish Effect is still relevant in 2020. Nails are still a great profession in the long run. We just have to wait for the local municipalities to allow salons to open and be cautious with the latest health and safety measures in order to stay open uninterrupted. Don’t judge the career based on the uncertainty set forth during the pandemic. Salons will come under scrutiny; as all industries find themselves in the headlines. This profession is incredible because of all the unsinkable nails pros who choose to learn, grow, and change for the better. Something we imagine taking off is the popularity of salon suites for a more controlled one-on-one situation. It provides a great environment for both clients and nail professionals. If you’re just starting out, a salon suite might be a good place to start where you can dictate what level of safety precautions you might want to take in your business.
**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: IS THE NAIL BUSINESS RECESSION PROOF?
***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion:
16 July 2020