GLOSSLAB Founder Wants to Transform the Nail Salon Business — One Subscription at a Time

The nail salon industry, for the most part, has remained relatively stagnant over the years. When you decide to get your nails done, you’re often faced with a binary choice: either visit a quaint mom-and-pop shop or indulge in a high-end spa. While the results can be fantastic, the process itself often leaves much to be desired. Long wait times, concerns about hygiene, and inconsistent customer service are just a few of the issues that plague the industry. 

This prompted Rachel Apfel Glass to establish GLOSSLAB, as she recognized these pain points and made it her mission to address them, paving the way for a new era in nail care. 

In an interview with PYMNTS, Glass elaborates on the company’s mission to bring a fresh perspective to the antiquated nail salon industry by introducing an experience that emphasizes health, hygiene, customer service, and efficiency and how this approach is leading to a retail footprint expansion.  

“We are very excited about having local operators and franchisees because I think that’s going to be just excellent for the brand. What we’ve seen, even with the introduction of local operators in these markets, has already been game-changing,” Glass said. 

In the upcoming summer, Glass is set to extend the brand’s reach with the opening of 45 locations in South Florida. Among these, four have already commenced operations, while another six are under construction and are expected to be unveiled in early 2024. 

Nail Industry Innovation

Consumers love the feeling of having their nails freshly manicured or pedicured. It’s a confidence booster and a way to express personal style. But the traditional salon experience often falls short. Waiting for an available technician, the risk of unsanitary tools, and subpar customer service have been pain points that consumers have had to endure for years. 

Glass ditched her corporate job and enrolled in nail tech school to tackle these issues head-on. Glass said she also saw an opportunity to bring a branded experience.  

“I saw a gap in the market where there was no offering between the local, family-owned nail salons and the upscale spa experiences, and there was a clear absence of a dependable brand in this space,” Glass said.  

But she also saw opportunities to do more than just bring a name to the nail industry.  

Sustainable Yet Efficient

“I attended nail technician training school as part of my due diligence before starting GLOSSLAB. I was deeply committed to understanding the business from the ground up,” Glass said. “What struck me was the lack of emphasis on sterilization and hygiene in the industry.”  

Traditionally, the nail industry is far from sustainable. The standard process in many nail salons involves soaking the client’s fingers and toes in water for extended periods, contributing to high water consumption and often going against sustainable practices. 

GLOSSLAB moved to eliminate water from the nail care process, reducing its ecological footprint. By adopting this waterless approach, they also elevate the overall customer experience. 

GLOSSLAB has also looked make an experience that tends to be long and sometimes undesirable a more customer friendly and efficient one. 

GLOSSLAB has streamlined its operations to eliminate the common inconveniences associated with traditional nail salons. For starters, customers can book their appointments in advance and enjoy a completely cashless checkout process through the app. 

Glass emphasized that while GLOSSLAB doesn’t operate as an express service, they have refined what they refer to as “micro-efficiencies.” As an illustration, they’ve removed the requirement for conventional dryers since their performance polish that dries within a mere five minutes. 

“I spent about two years working on the formula for this polish because I really wanted to create something that truly emulated all the aspects of our nail care experience,” Glass said. “Our nail polish places a strong emphasis on nail hygiene and efficiency, mirroring the principles that guide the GLOSSLAB experience as a whole.” 

Membership Component

With a refined experience, Glass also wanted to introduce something she hadn’t seen before in the nail industry — membership.  

“I realized that manicures and pedicures are services people regularly indulge in. This realization naturally led us to introduce a membership model, providing added convenience and efficiency for our customers,” Glass said. 

Glass noted that the membership provides unlimited access to manicures and pedicures, including various nail design options and callus removal. In essence, it covers anything and everything related to nail care, accommodating gel, regular, and all types of polish preferences. 

She said GLOSSLAB’s members tend to opt for one to two pedicures per month with regular polish. For manicures, they typically schedule appointments about once a week or every 10 days. When it comes to gel polish, it boasts a longer-lasting quality, typically lasting between 10 days to two weeks. 

“I always recommend limiting gel,” Glass said, “I typically do gel no more than once a month.”