Spa Profile: Hammer & Nails

Designing the Ultimate Man Cave. In keeping with the theme of DAYSPA's March issue, we talked to the owner and president of a new men-only nail salon in Los Angeles about how he nailed the masculine look.

“As a man, I always felt uncomfortable going to traditional nail salons—they’re clearly geared toward women. I talked to guys I knew and discovered I’m not alone. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a place just for men—a nail shop for the guys?’

“We feared at first that women would be interested in coming too, but we find that women respect the man cave! When I started, I knew there wasn’t a ‘type’ of guy who gets a manicure or pedicure, but I was really surprised at how many men—even pulled-together ones—have never had one. Many of them would never set foot in a traditional nail salon, so I felt there was a huge opportunity to appeal to those guys, as well as those who already get nail services. About 40% of our men are first-timers, and clients run the gamut from college students and construction workers to professional types and 15-year-olds coming in with their grandfathers.

“We’ve already had a lot of rebookings and we like to reward loyal customers with gift cards for a discount on their next visit. Since we opened last November, some of our clients have been in numerous times. We give them VIP cards so that their next service is on the house.

“Our décor is the antithesis of a nail salon: it’s dimly lit, with lights on either side of each chair for the technicians. Our reception desk is made of wood and steel, and behind it the bumper of a rusted 1953 pickup is mounted on the wall. Other highlights include a 17-foot vintage sign of the word ‘auto’ and hammers displayed in shadow boxes on the wall like works of art. There’s also a vintage punching bag next to a photo of Muhammad Ali. Our huge leather chairs are the kind that every guy wishes he had, and next to each one is a pair of Sony headphones and a 42-inch TV with a personal remote control. The floors are made of polished concrete.

In short, our look is sexy, casual and cool: it’s the ultimate man cave, and it looks nothing like a salon. When guys come in, they’re escorted to their seat and offered a drinks menu—and the drink comes in a real glass! It’s our goal to treat the male client like a king. We don’t provide a service: we provide an experience. And we have an all-female staff—not many men want another man massaging their feet!

“I hired a PR firm when I opened, and because this is the first shop of its kind, I got a ton of publicity. On opening day, I was on Good Morning America; ABC World News Now even picked up the story, and it spread to other news stations across the country. Around 90 articles about us have appeared in the media, and the month we opened, we had 17,000 unique visitors to our website. Even the casting manager for Shark Tank emailed me! The unique concept and interior, plus the catchy name and location in Los Angeles, really generated interest.

“Finally, I don’t offer retail, and that’s by design. I deliberately want my place to not look and feel like a salon, and seeing products on display says ‘salon.’ I want the brand to remain ‘pure’, so I’m consciously staying away from facials, haircuts and retail.”

Hammer & Nails, 8257 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046