Tools of the Trade: The Story of Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys

The original location in Los Angeles features a decidedly male vibe.

When Michael Elliot needed a mani and pedi back in 2013, he found his local nail salon to be somewhat lacking in delivering the experience he envisioned. The girly colors and reality TV were just the start. Thanks to a few judgmental stares he encountered from other clients, he ended up hightailing it out of there. It was that experience that led him to create Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys (multiple locations), a place for men to indulge in a full selection of hand and foot services. The first location launched in Los Angeles. Soon after came an appearance on “Shark Tank.” Although Elliot, founder and CEO, didn’t land a deal, that hasn’t stopped him and his team from expanding the brand with franchising opportunities. “The original shop in Los Angeles, on iconic Melrose Avenue, has seen year over year growth of roughly 20 percent,” says Elliot. “That shop only provides the hand and foot grooming, as barbering was not part of the initial business model. It’s our firm belief that the barbering component, which will be in every location moving forward, will only serve to add exponential revenue to the business.” The company opened a location in Miami in June as well as in Folsom, CA, and Frisco, TX, in July. Here, Elliot shares how Hammer & Nails is catering to the $21-billion men’s grooming market and expanding to sought-after markets across the country. 

[Q+A]

To what do you attribute Hammer and Nails’s success over the years? 
We can point to several reasons, but perhaps the greatest contributor is the fact that more and more men are making their personal grooming habits an important part of their lives. Couple that with the fact that, until now, there has never been a place where a guy can go and get his hands and feet cared for without being judged by whoever else might be in the room. There’s a different expectation today when it comes to the way a guy presents himself, whether it’s in the workplace or at home with his significant other.

Why do you think the business has been able to succeed where others have failed?
We’ve succeeded, because the services we provide are developed and perfected specifically with guys in mind, and those services are delivered by manicurists who have been trained to work specifically with men. There are nuances when it comes to giving a guy a manicure or a pedicure that are just different than when working with women. When our clients are in the shop, they’re treated like kings.
 
What are some of the interesting ways you cater to the male market?
Our shops are outfitted with guy-centric stuff. Our custom bison leather chairs are insane. The art on the walls is completely masculine, as are many of the ingredients that we use in our services. Personal televisions and personal remotes add to the effect, as does the rest of the customized furniture that fills the space. There’s never the odor of nail polish or remover, because we don’t offer either of those services. You know you’re in a place for guys the moment you walk through the door.

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The new Miami shop shares a similar aesthetic to other locations created by Michael Elliot (above) with a number of male accents (below).

Why did you choose Miami for the next location? 
Miami is a fantastic market! Guys want to look good and be treated good. There’s an understanding of what good grooming is and an overall interest in health and wellness. Our services are a one-two punch, taking care of both of those elements. As a city, Miami offers the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that could only lead to great success.
 
What have been the biggest challenges in expanding and growing the business? 
We have to create a big paradigm shift in the minds of many guys. Getting manicures and pedicures should be an important part of their grooming regimen, not just for the way it will make them look and feel but also for the health benefits. It might take a little time, but we’ll educate the masses!
 
How do you attract clients and encourage them to visit? 
Our shops offer discounted initial visits and very affordable membership programs to help guys get the care and attention they want and need without breaking the bank.

How do you use digital marketing and social media? 
What we offer is an experience, and when people talk about that experience, we grow. We have a main corporate Facebook page with each shop’s page branching directly off of that hub. We’ll be using those media vehicles as the primary way we go about educating people and sharing the value of what we offer.
  
What are your future plans? 
I want to make Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys the go-to spot whenever a guy thinks about getting a haircut, a shave, or a manicure or pedicure, and I would love it if we could become the place that every manicurist and barber wants to work. We’re hoping to have more than 200 locations open in the next five years with many more after that. 

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