When I was in high school, I had a religious beauty routine that included a standing nail appointment. Very picky about where I get a fill and design, I made my mother travel from our suburban cul-de-sac into a more urban community. I didn’t want to go to the frou-frou spa where your manicure included a brown sugar scrub. I didn’t think they could give me the funky designs I wanted.
I thought I needed to go the Asians.
Now that I’m older I have completely abandoned that way of thinking. I still travel far to get my natural nails done but for a very different reason — I support black-owned spas.
In Chris Rock’s examination of the black hair industry Good Hair, he profiles how blacks rarely take part in the creation, distribution, or ownership of black hair care. Yet, we collectively spend millions — possibly billions — of dollars every year to maintain it. Well what about our nails?
Some of the best nail technicians I know are black. In the Midwest, many women provide nail services out of their homes and create some of the most intricate nail patterns I have ever seen. So why is it that we have not truly capitalized on this industry?
The songwriter and businesswoman, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, opened Tiny’s Nail Bar in Atlanta because of her love of a good manicure. Serena Williams momentarily put down her tennis racket and hit the books to get an esthetician license. Since then, she and OPI collaborated on the Glam Slam collection — a nail polish inspired by her. Recently, the singer Monica announced she is partnering with Orly for a new nail lacquer line.
Business ventures and collaborations emerging within our community show the market could be ours for the taking.