How One Nail Salon Survived A Pandemic

Paintbox Nails CEO Jane Hong talks about how her salon shifted gears and adapted to the limitations of quarantine.

by Irina Dvalidze

“Ninety-four percent of women consider a manicure a necessary luxury,” says Jane Hong, CEO of New York City nail salon Paintbox Nails. When the coronavirus shut down the majority of service-focused businesses, that necessary luxury had to pivot and get creative, not only to stay in business but to serve its loyal, manicure-hungry customers as well as possible. “We were fighting for survival,” Hong says, “but survival means many different things.”

Thankfully, in 2019, Paintbox launched a bespoke color line called Power Couples. Each set includes a pair of its most popular colors, and Hong says that focusing on e-commerce and selling those products have helped keep her business afloat during quarantine. Not only were people more interested in helping small businesses survive, but they were also suddenly very, very focused on self-care. To start, Paintbox offered 20% off on all online purchases and then donated 20% of proceeds to its nail techs and artists who could no longer work.

“When we saw the results from that, and they were so successful, we ultimately gave 100% of their proceeds to their employee pool,” Hong says.

They’re also getting creative with content, using Zoom and online manicure parties to reach clients and continue to encourage customers to get creative with their nail art.

As far as the future, Hong says the salon will implement all necessary safety standards as it re-opens shops.

“Women will feel more compelled to pay a little bit of a premium to achieve those hygienic standards,” Hong says. As her business continues to shift and adapt, she's open to whatever lies ahead. “Really all you can do is take it day by day, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Bustle’s Small Business Salutes series celebrates small business owners who’ve been going above and beyond to make it work as the world grapples with the ramifications of COVID-19. Subscribe to Bustle Digital Group on YouTube to watch more.

Executive Producer: Whitney Buxton

Executive Creative Director: Lauren Sofair

Supervising Producer: Irina Dvalidze

Editor: Meline Rosales

Design Director: Andenew Ayele

Motion Designer: Jeff Donlan

Director Of Photography: Marshall Stief