Michael Elliot, a Hollywood screenwriter who wrote “Brown Sugar” and “Just Wright” came up with a first of its kind concept where men could get their nails done in an environment that was welcoming to all men.
Step foot into one of Elliot’s Hammer & Nails Salons and you’ll be welcomed with over-sized leather chairs, flat-screen TVs, dark woods, dim lighting, and sips of whiskey. The concept has turned out to be a sound business model done in the right place at the right time.
The incredible story behind this first-to-market concept started in March of 2013 when Michael Elliot walked into a nail salon seeking a manicure and a pedicure. While waiting to get his nails done, Elliot felt totally uncomfortable in an environment surrounded by women.
He began to envision another environment–one that was welcoming to all men. What about the ultimate guys grooming experience? His vision was more like a “man cave.” He saw dark wood, low lighting, and over-sized leather chairs, with personal flat-screen TVs positioned above each chair. His vision became Hammer & Nails.
In November 2013, he opened the first men’s nail salon in the country. This salon located in Los Angeles on iconic Melrose Avenue, proved that there was a demand for business in all male nail salons. Five weeks after opening his doors to Hammers & Nails, the producers of “Shark Tank” came knocking. Elliot appeared on the show, but was turned down by all the sharks. He didn’t get the deal because no one thought the traditional nail salon that is designed to appeal to women would ever appeal to men.
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.
Well, as the Franchise Times reports: “According to The Wall Street Journal, National Basketball Association players consider pedicures a cost of doing business—even though they’re actually playing. “It’s basic hygiene,” a player was quoted as saying in the Journal. Baseball pitchers, on the other hand, are interested in avoiding hangnails and other finger issues.”
Today, Elliot has sold 183 franchise licenses in eight states since January. The total investment range to open a Hammer & Nails is $234,700 to $531,400. The franchise fee is $20,000 and the royalty fee is 6%.