The Nail Social is a local start-up and a novel concept nail salon that offers nail and foot reflexology services, coffee and desserts, and fair trade retail all under one roof. Besides these services, The Nail Social focuses on giving back to society and supporting underprivileged women in Singapore. They have reached out to single-mothers, ex-offenders and women from lower-income households, in hope of bringing them better life opportunities by equipping them with vocational skills training for long-term employment prospects.
Meet the woman behind The Nail Social, Cheryl Ou, who is a self-taught entrepreneur who is active in the start-up scene and has successfully developed multiple businesses across many industries, including Wink Hostel, The Lumenere Group, and Anchora Collections, a fair-trade jewellery line. We were glad to have the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Cheryl regarding her socially-conscious operations at The Nail Salon.
Have you personally always been interested in beauty and lifestyle before starting The Nail Social?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in nails and even took a part-time Diploma in Nail Technology while I was still working full-time some 10 years ago. After graduating, I decided to start my first nail salon business, and introduced a new lifestyle concept of nails, massage and movies. My current business partner, Germaine, was actually one of my first few trainees, who eventually rose to become supervisor at my first salon. It was actually because of the positive experiences – friendships and camaraderie with colleagues and customers – that made me think about re-opening over the last few years.
Can you tell us what made you get the idea of of reaching out to underprivileged women?
In my last last business venture, I worked with an investor whose only motivation was money. That experience made me think about what my motivations were and what kind of businesswomen I wanted to be. I knew there had to be more to running a business than purely chasing profits and I liked the idea of using business to do good. I realised that as a business owner and employer, I had an even bigger opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, and as a Nail Technician, I had a vocational skill that could be passed on.
Do you feel that the stigma with regard to the hiring of people from broken (e.g. ex-offenders, lowly educated) backgrounds is still prevalent in Singapore or are companies wising up?
I wouldn’t say it’s a stigma per se, but rather a worry that people from these backgrounds are less reliable and trustworthy. But i think companies are starting to realise that all these people are looking for is an opportunity to prove themselves, and it’s heartening to hear that most companies are starting to rise up to the challenge.
The Nail Social is also conscious with its use of organic nail products, why organic nails instead of regular ones?
I’ve been in the nail industry for quite a number of years now, and I’ve seen and heard first hand accounts from fellow Nail Technicians about the health issues they were facing from over-exposure to products such as acrylics, monomers etc. When I started this salon, I wanted to ensure that my manicurists and customers were not exposed to such levels of risk, so i decided to do away with services like acrylic extensions and invest a bit more in non-toxic nail polish.
Are there any plans for The Nail Social in the future to extend its range of services, aside from beauty, F&B, and retail?
Not at the moment. I’d rather focus on perfecting our current services and offerings first, before we think about diversifying.
What is your vision for The Nail Social down the road with regard to its social endeavours?
We hope to open more outlets soon to increase our capacity to hire more beneficiaries. Eventually, we hope to expand overseas too.