For many people, the idea of manicuring is foreign or deplorable. Too often it is assumed that getting one’s nails done is an act of excessive luxury. However, as one of the most gender-neutral activities, manicures and pedicures are part self-care and part public relations. With the world at a standstill on handshakes and hugs due to the pandemic, it is not without wonder that having one’s fingertips gilded couldn’t be a statement of splendour or entertainment.
The nail industry has shown a remarkable growth rate across the world. The ubiquity of Asian nail technicians in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and a number of European countries has sparked interest in the industry among many people in those countries. It cannot be understated that style and fashionability of having custom detailed nails has come to be a means of setting oneself apart. This is what has seen the proliferation of nail spas across the country, many of which are informally set up. However, in the sphere of innovative establishments and novel products, CutiKles Nail Spa leads the pack.
With the nail salon industry in the United States valued at an astounding USD6.5 billion in 2020, rising to USD14 billion if technicians not working in brick and mortar establishments, according to Marketdata, it is no wonder that this would be an attractive venture. In neighbouring South Africa, the compounded Nail Make-Up market registered sales to the value of ZAR323.11 million in 2020 – this being consumables rather than solely services. CutiKles Nail Spa and its sister company CutiKles – which offers consumables such as cuticle oils, foot soaks and scrubs, room mists, diffusers and candles – seeks to position itself as a holistic provider.
Their treatments include all forms of manicures and pedicures and cater to all genders. What is impressive about the establishment is the choice of its founder, Chipo Aaron, to commit to going green and giving clients only organic products made in Botswana. “Nail care is a very intimate thing,” says Aaron, adding that “it’s in our best interest and that of our clientele to give them products that are sustainable and good for them and the environment”.
Started as a means of bridging the gap between sustainable nail care and exploring a virgin local market, Aaron was then accepted into the Go-to-Market programme, a USD3 million collaboration announced in 2017 by The Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group to empower young entrepreneurs to compete on the global market. The progress that the businesses, which started operation in mere months prior to the descent of the pandemic, has been nothing short of remarkable in that they have managed to stay afloat throughout the economic crunch.
“It wasn’t easy, but we have a supportive customer base that values the services and the products,” chimes Aaron. This customer base also includes corporate entities who regularly seek out their products featuring old favourites like vanilla and morula alongside exotic scents such as patchouli, lemongrass, sweet orange and ginger, to impress their executive guests.
Taking a different spin on the allowance for youth-run businesses to occupy public spaces, Aaron opted to set up her spa in a repurposed shipping container. The pristine white and earth tone finishes inside the container add an air of simplified luxury that does well to transport one to places beyond the traffic at the nearby Segoditshane-Nyerere intersection adjacent to Partial and Maruapula where the establishment is located.
While some might think the alternative structure was the cheaper option, Aaron is quick to remind us that “there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and a lot of what we do is costly because we are in Botswana where these ideas are still new”, lamenting that she’s paid the price for thinking outside of the box. However, as a delegate at the recently closed Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa, it would appear that the risk has started to pay off.
It is a known fact that more entrepreneurial ventures fail within their first 18 months than succeed, so it is impressive to see a business founded by a young Motswana woman go the distance against the odds of global economic collapse. So, whether you are looking to treat yourself to a day of pampering or you want to give your home or office space an ambient lift, CutiKles has something for you that is straight from Mother Nature herself.