A nail salon exclusively for men? While the Shark Tank investors didn’t think the idea would fly, fortunately for screenwriter/entrepreneur Michael Elliot, other folks with money watching the show did. So while he failed to impress the Sharks, his company’s exposure on the show netted him a group of investors willing to put up some cash.
Michael Elliot, a Hollywood screenwriter-turned-entrepreneur who wrote Brown Sugar and Just Wright, saw a need for a nail shop that caters to entrepreneurs, athletes, mechanics, and men who take proper care of their appearance and hygiene. So he created a first-of-its-kind environment that was welcoming to all men. Oversized leather chairs, flat-screen TVs, dark woods, dim lighting, and sips of whiskey are what you’ll find at Elliot’s Hammer & Nails, the Nail Shop for Guys, located on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
The male-centric salon, which opened in 2013, cost $250,000 for the build-out. With a price tag ranging from $23 for a basic manicure to $120 for a milk-and-honey soak experience, Hammer & Nails made $150,000 in sales revenue the first seven months in business. It is on target to generate $2 million in revenues for 2016, with a staff of nine at the shop on Melrose and five employees at the Hammer & Nails Salon Group corporate office.
Coming to the realization that there was considerable interest in a nail salon for men, Elliot wanted to franchise his concept to grow the business. Franchising is a popular business model that has proven to be a successful expansion strategy, delivering rapid growth. Stellar examples include McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
To raise capital for his expansion, Elliot auditioned for ABC’s hit reality competition show, Shark Tank. Hammer & Nails was featured on Season 6. The episode aired Sept. 26, 2014, the most-watched season premiere in the show’s history. Elliot was seeking a $200,000 investment in return for 20% equity to help franchise his brand. He began his pitch by explaining that the shop was designed to appeal to men who would never enter a traditional nail salon. It wasn’t the service that was making men so uncomfortable, it was the salons themselves because they were designed to appeal to women.
Elliot didn’t get a deal. In fact, he recalls, “Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) said, “it will never work.” He did get priceless exposure for the Hammer & Nails brand, concept, and plans for franchising. He did raise $200,000 from eight viewers of the episode, two of whom are African-American female angel investors. He did get flooded on his website and e-mail inbox with thousands of names of people expressing interest in franchising opportunities.
Since then, Black Enterprise reports that Elliot has sold 183 franchise licenses in eight states, with the first of six franchises set to open in Miami in December.
PHOTO: Hammer And Nails