Ale and Kim, co-founders of Ezza Nails
Welcome to the new world of nail care. Not only is Ezza Nails convenient to the working woman, it is empowering the women working BEHIND the manicure table! Ale and Kim, founders, have built more of a community then a salon. They grow lasting relationships with their clients and stand against unethical employment practices common in their industry for their employees. Read along to learn about the birth of Ezza, it’s modern business model and how Ale and Kim are elevating your self care experience.
Ale and Kim, as women with such heavy non-profit and business backgrounds, why go down the beauty route?
We believe that there are strong parallels between the nail industry and education. We’ve been able to translate what we’ve learned about building engaging teams, coaching and teaching from Teach For America and apply it to the nail industry. We’re incredibly passionate about elevating the nail industry and providing career enriching opportunities for our squad all the while ensuring that they work in a positive driven culture and environment.
So Ezza Nails is so much more than meets the eye. What does your mission of “a nail care experience that empowers women on both sides of the manicure table” mean exactly?
We believe that nails should be the last thing women have to worry about. However, that’s not the case today. Most women have two options for nail care-- the costly luxury spa that requires a lot of time or the local nail salon where the only consistency you get is inconsistency. We’ve designed an experience that perfectly meets the needs of modern women making it easy and seamless to invest in nails. On the staffing side, we are incredibly passionate about providing better compensation, health and dental benefits, paid time off and career advancement opportunities. Nails is a unique industry made of 99% women and everyone deserves better.
Ezza is focused so strongly on women, but how do you incorporate men and them in our current society of growing acceptance?
Inclusivity is very important to us. While our business is catered to women, men are always welcome in our spaces. We even have men featured in our Loop space-- JFK signing the Equal Pay Act which started conversations around equal gender pay. Men have an important role to play in society and can be strong alleys to women. We love celebrating strong male alleys!
Now as we have learned in our years of interviewing that every success story comes roadblocks. Can you describe yours and how you powered through them?
You are sure to run into challenges when you build a business. Fundraising was a big challenge for us when we first started. We were often pitching to male investors that didn’t understand our business and therefore couldn’t properly evaluate it. We had to learn how to make nails relatable to men and how to pitch the opportunity and showcase our data. We persevered and just recently closed our seed round of $1.5M!
What about those who are reading this and currently see a problem and want to solve it- just like you did. Maybe they don’t have the money, support or even know where to begin. What insight can you share on how to move the needle forward?
In the words of Nike, “just do it”. An idea is just an idea, but once you get started, you’ve officially started to build your business! You can always talk yourself out of why you shouldn’t begin(and trust me, there will be A LOT of people that try and talk you out of it too), but we suggest to put the excuses aside and just go for it.
Find a way to start that won’t require large capital needs. A professor of ours once told us “fail often to gain certainty” and that has stayed with us throughout this journey of building ezza. You have to be willing to get dirty and have the mindset that you are never too good to do any job.
What’s next for Ezza Nails?
We are opening our third location in Chicago. If you find yourself in the Windy City, come say hello! We have one location in the heart of Streeterville at 240 E Illinois and another location in downtown Chicago at 180 N Wacker. Next year, we have goals to go national. Which city do you think we should go to?
To learn more about ezza nails, follow @ezzanails.
Interviewed by Emily