Alisa Becker wanted her nails to look good and she didn’t want to drink cucumber water or inhale acrylic fumes to get the perfect mani.
“I just felt like there had to be something in between a spa and a strip mall,” she says.
Enter Zoom Mani.
From a stylish kiosk situated in the Polaris Mall, shopping is paused for a no-appointment-needed manicure.
A serial entrepreneur and also a part of the team behind Be the Sign, Becker built the business to fill the gap she found in the manicure market. It wasn’t always easy to nail down a time for an appointment and traditional routes each had their drawbacks. She wanted somewhere people could just drop in, and a clear vision of what the experience should feel and look like, down to the details like purse hangers and a take-home nail file.
“I want to go where the people already are,” Becker says.
Situated near the Brio/Molly Woo’s entrance, Zoom Mani sees a steady flow of traffic in and out of the mall. Paces slow to check out the kiosk that just opened a little over two weeks ago. Even if a customer doesn’t stop that day, “You know we’re here,” Becker says.
The mall also provides the fashion-forward inspiration that’s a core principle of Zoom Mani’s credo. Becker doesn’t want her nail stylists to make suggestions like, “A lot of people have been going for pink lately” but draw on inspiration from runways to pop-culture.
Zoom Mani currently employs seven stylists, and as Becker examines the demand in the first few weeks of business, that number could grow.
“it was really important to me to hire a range of backgrounds and experiences; some of them are right out of school, some of them have been doing this 10 or 20 years,” Becker says. She wanted customers to look behind the counter and see someone they could relate to. “They represent a lot of different cultures, a lot of different styles,” Becker adds.
In a year full of major retail closure announcements, Becker recognizes that placing Zoom Mani in a mall seems like a risky choice.
“I know that malls are struggling, and a lot of that is because I don’t think anyone’s stepping up on the experience,” she says.
Experience is another pillar in Zoom Mani’s model. Becker wants to create an accessible, light-hearted environment that keeps customers coming back. The communal counters encourage guest interaction. Friends can sit together, moms can watch their strollers.
“I feel like people really are responding to the concept,” Becker says. “It’s not intimidating, it’s really accessible.”
Zoom Mani services start at $20 for a manicure with regular polish and $36 for gel.
“We work with the natural nail,” Becker adds, meaning there’s no drills or dust.
That also lends itself to speed, an aim apparent in the name.
“We want to do the best manicure in the shortest amount of time,” Becker says, and never compromising on quality.
In the long run, Polaris shoppers won’t be the only ones to pop in for a manicure.
“I would like to put this in other malls, and I could see this even sitting inside department stores one day,” Becker says.
And she doesn’t just mean the concept, but branded Zoom Manis. Becker aims to give the unique, experience-driven concept a ubiquitous brand that other retailers want to have as a part of what they are doing.
For more information, visit zoommani.com.
All photos by Susan Post.