Nail salon rises to Covid-19 challenge
Keeping a business running during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the restrictions imposed on daily life, has been a challenge, but it's something Tia-Maria Robinson has managed with her nail care enterprise Tia Maria Nail & Skin.
Some of her plans had to be put on hold, but she ensured many pharmacies on the island continued to have her nail care items available, which allowed customers to care for their nails even when nail bars and salons were shut.
Shelter-in-place rules at the height of the Covid-19 restrictions impacted her ability to service vendors. She was unable to get to each pharmacy, so she arranged for product delivery. Par-la-Ville Pharmacy offered general kerbside sales and pick-up and sales, while sales were maintained at other outlets, including all eight Phoenix Stores pharmacies, Lindo's Pharmacy in Devonshire, and Hamilton Pharmacy.
“Unfortunately, with salons temporarily closed, acrylic and gel clients missed their two-week maintenance and nails have fallen into a state of disrepair,” Ms Robinson said.
Now, as nail and beauty businesses reopen, she is offerings salons items from the Nail Tek brand — for which she has distribution rights in Bermuda — to sell to customers. By doing so, it gives customers the opportunity to maintain their nails at home between salon visits, and if there is ever another lengthy lockdown.
Ms Robinson grew up in an entrepreneurial environment. She said: “My father was a consummate small business owner, always looking for an opportunity to turn a profit. He had an upholstery shop, record shop and a motocross cycle shop, while establishing his own construction company.”
She added: “Both of my parents encouraged me to pursue my interests.”
As a teenager she worked in fashion boutiques. She attended university in Jamaica. Her passion and interest gravitated around art, design, beauty and style. She would replicate her favourite fashion pieces from remnants. At 20, she was chosen as Miss Tourism of Bermuda.
She has had a long interest in nails and their appearance, which started many years before she became a natural nail specialist.
“Unattended nails made me want to hide them. The problem was that genetically my fingernails were soft and would peel like the layers of an onion. What was quite annoying was my polish would chip in two days,” she said.
That led to her using acrylic nails, but she ended up having an allergic reaction to the material and that led to her doing more research into alternatives and eventually becoming a licensed nail technician and opening Enzo Organic Nail Spa, on Burnaby Street, in the mid-1990s.
She became familiar with the international line Nail Tek, a brand that helps strengthen and restore damaged nails. She became a distributor, and that relationship now stretches almost 25 years and is a fixture in her business.
After her business owner days at Enzo, she revived her interest in design work and taught design and technology at Dellwood Middle School.
A few years ago, she returned to the nail care business.
“Prior to leaving Bermuda in 2009, the product line was well-placed in pharmacies and salons. During my sabbatical, distributing became dormant. When I returned to Bermuda former customers approached me to bring Nail Tek back. That's when I decided on Tia Maria Nail & Skin,” she said.
She has worked to promote the benefits of healthy nails, and to educate others on the pros and cons of acrylic nails versus natural nails.
Ms Robinson works from her home office and has products in pharmacies island-wide.
“I would typically check-in with vendors to service display areas, offer new point-of-sale (POS) promotions, product support and training. Shelf-talkers and POS displays provide the natural nail community with education and professional advice. I also make suggestions on how new products in the line could benefit customers and employees alike,” she said.
Ms Robinson added that building a small business can take two or three years to reach profitability, and she was thankful for the partnership with vendors and the opportunity to re-establish a working relationship.
She also offers coaching and in-salon training and consulting.
• Tia Maria Nail & Skin can be contacted through its website at tiamarianailandskin.com and on Facebook and Instagram at nailtekbda