By Jordan Beckoff
Manicube has made its way to Boston. It launched in October and is helping businesswomen in Beantown keep their hands beautiful.
CEOs Katina Mountanos and Elizabeth Whitman originally started the company in New York City after they finished working on the development and sale of Beautybar.com. While working on this company, the pair was meeting with some of the most important labels in the fashion and beauty industry and they noted how they always needed to look polished – pun intended – when meeting with clients.
“You can’t have a meeting with Chanel with chipped nails,” Whitman has been quoted as saying.
And so the idea for Manicube was born. In several interviews, Mountanos and Whitman have said they wanted to create a business that made the lives of professional working women a little easier.
Manicube provides a 15-minute, $15 manicure for women and a $12 “clip and clean” for men. It has partnered with about 15 different companies in the Boston area to provide on-site services for employees. Manicube nail technicians are dispatched to a company’s office so employees do not need to take time off of work to get their nails done, or to wait in line at a local nail salon after work.
After a strong start in New York, the pair decided that their next move would be to open up shop close to their alma mater, Harvard Business School, in the Boston/Cambridge area.
Manicube has set up office at the PayPal Start Tank in downtown Boston and has hired Annie Ode as their launch manager.
“The company moved from New York to Boston because it is a large market, it is close to New York, but also because it is a growing city,” said Ode. “The beauty industry is thriving in this city. Both owners have ties to Boston… they have a lot of contacts here so it just made sense,” she added.
Kitt George from the New England Venture Capital Association has noticed that many online-based companies thrive in the Hub.
“Most people know of Silicon Valley as the place to go for tech startups and venture capital, but actually Boston is incredibly dense with startups and has a really amazing ecosystem,” she said.
Ode thinks that the move to Boston has been a very nurturing and positive experience for the business. “I think just given the fact that we just launched a month ago and have been written up in multiple Boston publications specifically about how we are launching in Boston, is just an example of how supportive and excited about growth in the beauty space and specifically in a start up capacity. So we have had nothing but a positive and warm and encouraging experience so far with Boston as a beauty startup,” Ode said.
The women working at the Manicube’s partner companies have the option to get their nails done in their office and Manicube’s nail tech employees are given the workplace flexibility that many working women desire.
The Four Seasons Boston has partnered with Manicube to provide its clientele manicure services that cannot be received at its spa.
“We have a small spa, but we do not have nail technicians on site,said Four Seasons Boston PR director, Kristan Fletcher. “So, for us, this is a huge contribution to our guest services because we can call Manicube and have them come over to assist our guests while they are on our property.”
Local nail technicians like Amanda Solomon also appreciate the flexibility that Manicube offers. Solomon recently started working at Manicube in addition to working for a high-end spa in the Seaport District, doing some event planning on the side and taking care of her family.
“The convenience is that I get an invitation sent to me of all the nail events and then I can choose if I want to do it or not,” she said. “It gives me flexibility because I can choose what I want to do and what I can do and I can manage three jobs with that scheduling. I can be choosy of what I want to do.”
Solomon also likes that Manicube’s system allows her to be more efficient with her time and make the most money for the hours she is working.
“At my other salon, I have to be in the salon all day, but I don’t get paid unless I am doing a service,” she said. “I can be there all day long and only get paid for doing one mani-pedi. With Manicube, they will book me for four hours, and I know that I will be getting paid per hour in addition to the tips from the service.”
A Dec. 3, 2013 poll done by Monster.com, showed workplace flexibility is the most desirable, non-financial benefit for both male and female job seekers by a large margin (69 percent). Job flexibility is especially desirable for working mothers.
Ode said the workplace needs of the nail technicians at Manicube vary. “You might have someone who is a working mom, and therefore may only want to work two or three weeks days and the other days she is just at home. We have other women who want to practice nails two or three days a week and then go to a salon where they do more aesthetician or hair work, and then we have some women who dedicate their entire week to us alone and don’t have a second job,” she said.
Solomon does not have any children of her own, but she does take care of her boyfriend’s daughter on weekends. “I work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday at my other salon and then I work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at Manicube, and then I will usually work one day during the weekend in addition to being with my family,” she said.
The nail technicians at Manicube get to decide their own schedules as long as they work at least two days a week. Working at Manicube also allows the nail technicians to work normal business hours instead of waiting for working women to get out of work at 5 p.m. or later to get their nails done.
“One of the tough things about salon hours right now is that working women get out of the office and then go to the salon. So the busiest hours for nail technicians is from 5 p.m. -8 p.m. ,” Ode said. “If you have young children at home or if you just want a regular life, you can’t do that with that type of schedule. She added, “We offer an 8 a.m.-6 p.m. schedule and it becomes very regular. It creates a flexible and different type of schedule. You are not in a brick-and mortar salon every single day. You get to travel around to these different sites and it allows for a lot of autonomy and independence in a working woman’s life.”
Annie Ode shows what is in the Manicube nail tech swag bag.