Frenchies quells novices’ pedi fears
White fixtures and furnishings at Frenchies silently communicate the nail salon brand's focus on cleanliness.
Lost limbs and panic attacks were at the top of my list of fears as fellow reporter Nick Upton and I prepared to sit down for our first-ever pedicures—but it was a long list.
What if there was a “no boys allowed” sign on the front door? If I passed out in the chair, would they sell my organs? And what were they going to say about my feet? They aren’t the prettiest I’ve ever seen.
These rational concerns were the mental backdrop as Upton and I bravely walked in the door of Frenchies Modern Nail Salon in suburban Minneapolis and sat down for our pedicures. The clinical and white interior only confirmed our worst fears about typical nail salons—it was clean, borderline suspiciously clean. Were we about to be given the choice between red and blue pills?
The tension only broke when multiple employees greeted us with a smile, welcoming us to our inaugural nail job and guiding us around the salon and back toward a bench where we would soon be massaged, exfoliated and ultimately calmed into a dream-like state of personal indulgence.
Truth be told, Upton and I quickly agreed our fears were unfounded as the procedure began and Natalie broke down our barriers.
Passing the smell test
Not personally knowing the difference between this beautiful all-new nail franchise and more typical, grungier nail salons, we based our fears off the testimony of our editor, Beth Ewen, who shared her story of a recently botched nail job that required a doctor’s visit to rectify. That was all the evidence needed to care about how the tools used on our feet were cleaned and cared for between each customer.
This location on the fringes of the Twin Cities is one of the first two Frenchies units, and enthusiastic franchisee Ryan McEnaney certainly passed the initial smell test. He ticked off the attributes that encouraged him to add “franchise owner” to his already long list of work duties through his pre-existing role heading up PR for his family business, Bailey Nurseries.
“When you walk in the door and you experience this, it just feels different, it feels clean, but it’s also that inviting and engaging atmosphere that adds to the cleanliness,” he said.
It helps, he added, that two of the brand’s co-founders, Stephanie Ryan Coffey and Guy Coffey, are close friends who are almost like family. Their families had always been close when he was growing up, and he stayed in touch with them both as they worked their way up the ladder as Anytime Fitness franchisees, which they remain to this day.
In addition, Stephanie helped build Self Esteem Brands’ Waxing the City franchise as its senior vice president of franchise development.
“We really see ourselves as growing this brand into a national brand, so that’s our ultimate goal,” she said about starting Frenchies with carefully laid plans. “We were extremely particular on developing all the necessary tools, especially based on our experience with Anytime Fitness for 10 years and then Waxing the City on the franchisor side.”
Her husband, Guy, added they knew from personal experience in their home (and headquarters) of Littleton, Colorado, that the nail business was primed for a sophisticated, national concept to come in with a higher standard of cleanliness, a more modern store design and a price point that was less than full-service spas, but higher than smaller, independent shops.
Franchise Times reporter Nick Upton in the hot seat during his first pedicure.
“We are setting a standard in the nail industry that’s not there right now, where it’s a lot of mom and pops—and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said, but “there’s no uniformity across the nation.”
In-your-face cleanliness is the key differentiator for Frenchies, with pedicure bowls disinfected for 10 minutes between every service. Much of the cleaning procedures are within eyesight of the customers to underscore that positioning.
In describing her decision to leave Self Esteem’s Waxing the City, while remaining an Anytime Fitness franchisee, Coffey said it was her time to “take the leap” after they researched and developed the concept, and shared it with Self Esteem founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen.
‘It was a super hard decision, because I loved my time at Self Esteem Brands and working directly with Chuck and Dave,” she said, adding they have been extremely supportive of the Frenchies concept.
Back in the hot seat as Upton and my pedicures neared the end, we agreed there might be something to this concept of a reasonably priced, spa-like treatment as the beautiful scent of lemongrass calmed our spirits. It was also unquestionable our toenails had never been in finer order, with a buffed sheen, baby-soft skin and the inspiring knowledge that we could both conquer anything our jobs might throw at us.
A fifth-generation family member through his family’s nursery, McEnaney related to our newfound confidence, and said his own grandfather has come into the nail salon twice—and loves it.
Putting on his PR hat, which he also wears in promoting Frenchies for its founders, he added that telling personal stories is the key to successful brand promotion. “There are so many great stories in all of these businesses,” he said about using meaningful stories to build a brand. “How are you affecting somebody’s life? How is this changing the perception that they had?”
These rugged, go-anywhere and dare-anything reporters knew just what he meant.