While the Shark Tank investors didn’t think the idea would take off, screenwriter/entrepreneur Michael Elliot was fortunate in that other people watching the show with money did. While he didn’t impress the Sharks, his company’s exposure on the show led to a group of investors prepared to put money into it.
Michael Elliot, a Hollywood screenwriter-turned-entrepreneur known for his work on Brown Sugar and Just Wright, noticed a need for a nail salon that catered to entrepreneurs, athletes, mechanics, and men who take pride in their appearance and sanitation. As a result, he built a one-of-a-kind environment that welcomed all males. At Elliot’s Hammer & Nails, the Nail Shop for Guys, on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, you’ll discover oversized leather chairs, flat-screen TVs, dark woods, dim lighting, and tastes of whiskey.
The build-out of the male-centric salon, which launched in 2013, cost $250,000. Hammer & Nails produced $150,000 in sales income in its first seven months of operation, with prices ranging from $23 for a basic manicure to $120 for a milk-and-honey bath experience. With a workforce of nine in the Melrose location and five at the Hammer & Nails Salon Group corporate headquarters, it is on track to produce $2 million in revenue in 2016.
Elliot realized there was a lot of demand for a men’s nail salon, so he decided to franchise his concept to expand the business. Franchising is a well-known business model that has shown to be a successful expansion strategy that has resulted in quick expansion. McDonalds and Coca-Cola are two excellent examples.
Elliot auditioned for ABC’s hit reality competition show Shark Tank to secure financing for his expansion. Season 6 included the episode Hammer & Nails. The episode aired on September 26, 2014, and it was the show’s most-watched season debut ever. Elliot was looking for a $200,000 investment in exchange for a 20% stake in his company’s franchise. He started his pitch by saying that the shop was created for males who would never go to a regular nail salon. It wasn’t the service that made men feel uneasy; it was the salons themselves, which were created with women in mind.
Elliot was not offered a contract. Indeed, he recalls that “Mr. “It’ll never work,” Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) stated, but he gained invaluable publicity for the Hammer & Nails brand, strategy, and franchise plans. He did manage to gather $200,000 from the episode’s eight viewers, two of whom are Black female angel investors. Thousands of names of people expressing interest in franchising opportunities flooded his website and e-mail inbox.
Elliot has sold 183 franchise licenses in eight states since then, according to Black Enterprise, with the first of six franchises expected to debut in Miami in December.
Men may get pedicures, manicures, barbering, and straight-razor shaves at Hammer & Nails, which is set up like a man cave rather than a salon. It’s all about making men feel at ease and manly, right down to a shot of whiskey!