The nail salon chain that wants to be the next Starbucks – but at $19 a manicure hygiene and speed come at a premium


The nail salon chain that wants to be the next Starbucks – but at $19 a manicure, hygiene and speed come at a premium

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 1 June 2012

While New Yorkers take a cheap mani-pedi for granted, the rest of the country will be excited to hear about Sue Thirlwall's plans to 'Starbucks the nail salon' by creating a franchise as big as the coffee brand's.

The Harvard Business School graduate believes her MiniLuxe salons in Boston provide customers with the same quality product for the same affordable prices and should be used as model for other MiniLuxe outlets.

And much like any fast food chain, when it comes to nail grooming, a clean, quick service is the name of the game in luring the customers back.

Pristine: Sue Thirlwall's MiniLuxe nail salon in Boston is an ultra-clean haven for mani-pedi lovers and one that she hopes to roll out as a franchise to equal that of Starbucks

Pristine: Sue Thirlwall's MiniLuxe nail salon in Boston is an ultra-clean haven for mani-pedi lovers and one that she hopes to roll out as a franchise to equal that of Starbucks

Talking to Fast Company, the whip smart CEO explained: 'To me, beauty service is no different than food service. Cleanliness and sanitation is most important.'

But Ms Thirlwall's plan is not to entice the client through the beautifully sparkling doors of the blonde wood and dazzling white salon to the comfort of the candy-coloured chairs for a treatment that is just like any other.

Smart: Ms Thirlwall has an MBA from Harvard and has a wealth of experience in branding and franchising

Smart: Ms Thirlwall has an MBA from Harvard and has a wealth of experience in branding and franchising

At the heart of the MiniLuxe experience is the salon's bacteria-banishing 'Clean Lab' and specially designed jet-free tubs that ensure foot-soaking water is never recycled.

The branding expert believes that 'quality is inherent in a successful business formula.'

She added: 'Our service experience is
a nice alternative in an industry that competes primarily on price. We
know we could charge more, but we choose not to.'

Instead the Luxe Manicure that takes half an hour and is guaranteed to last at least three days costs a fair $19.

Ms Thirlwall is relying on the fact
that people will come back because of the experience at the salon even
though they may not perhaps need to straight away.

She
said: 'Many [clients] time treatments like manicures or waxing or a
trip to the brow bar so they don’t happen all at once.

'We are more
concerned that everyone has a phenomenal experience and wants to come
back. We want them to brag and post on social media how long the nail
services last.'

And when we say people, men are just as welcome to enjoy the MiniLuxe pampering.

Immaculate: The MiniLuxe salon offers a variety of beauty treatments but has cashed in on the fact that nails have become the recessionista's beauty splurge

Immaculate: The MiniLuxe salon offers a variety of beauty treatments but has cashed in on the fact that nails have become the recessionista's beauty splurge

MinLuxe Nail Salon in Boston

MinLuxe Nail Salon in Boston

Beauty delights: Just like the Bliss brand, Ms Thirlwall is hoping to develop a line of products under the same name such as polishes, scrubs and lotions

'Johnny Depp wears nail polish and Prince Harry was spotted with blue nail polish. But we do have a line of services for less adventurous men without polish,' she told Fast Company.

Recognising the difference between intimacy of a salon treatment and grabbing a latte to go, Ms Thirlwall knows all too well that the franchise model would rely on managers and owners who were committed to making a difference in people's lives.

But with the right balance of business savvy, personal engagement and perhaps even a line of beauty products of the same name, she hopes to conquer the market.

It's all about brand 'awareness', she explained. 'Once you experience our difference, it’s hard to go anywhere else.'