The fresh and innovative mobile nail salon officially launched in the Tyler Mall in Riverside on August 3rd thanks to support from the SBDC.
RIVERSIDE, Calif., — They say that the retail industry is about the five F’s – food, fun, fitness, furniture and fashion. It’s no mistake that Fanalux – a new mobile nail salon concept – combines two of them, covering “fashion” and “fun,” but they’ve also added some F’s with “fast” and “fresh.”
“I wanted to bring the nail salon business to a different level, offering something that was fresh, different and innovative,” explains Tjay Nguyen, the founder of Fanalux. “I was aware of the on-the-go trend in retail, but incorporating that with nail services has not been done yet. So, we wanted to tap into that business and be one of the first frontiers in the nail kiosk industry.”
Nguyen’s foray into nail salons was inspired by friends who worked in the industry and shared their insights on everything from employees to customers, and products to sanitation issues. Nguyen didn’t have a background in the business, but bolstered by what he learned from colleagues, he traveled to 36 states across the U.S. to study and learn about the nail industry so he could explore the issues it faced.
It turns out Nguyen had picked the perfect time to launch his mobile nail salon business. His unique concept was further supported by findings in KPMG’s 2018 study on Global Retail Trends, which cited that customer experience is more important than ever, noting that it will overtake price and product as a key differentiator by 2020. Plus, the rise of the conscious consumer – which Nguyen was addressing through eco-friendly services and product – is being driven by millennials. KPMG’s report highlights a study from Nielsen that notes 73% of millennial consumers are willing to spend more on “conscious” and sustainable brands. More so than any other generation, they’re driven to spend their money with companies who are eco-minded and practice sustainability, show strong ethical behavior, and offer transparency.
Even more impressive is the retail market share controlled by the beauty industry. Fung Global Retail and Technology released stats showing that beauty specialist stores grew their market share from 12% to 14.3% from 2011 to 2016 on a national level, and is “on the cusp of overtaking drugstores to become the second-biggest channel, behind supermarkets.” According to CNBC, the market for beauty and personal care is valued at $465 billion globally, of which the U.S. counts $86 billion – and it’s expected to grow to $750 billion by 2024.
But as much as the market supported Nguyen’s vision for a mobile, waterless nail salon that was sterile, eco-friendly, and easily scheduled into anyone’s busy day, he didn’t have much support from friends or family to make his dream a reality. As Nguyen puts it, “People said I couldn’t make it happen – that it was impossible to do a nail kiosk that was waterless, offered express service, and used technology in the form of an app for people to make bookings.” On top of that, Nguyen also lacked the financial support to get his idea off the ground.
Enter the Orange County Small Business Development Center (SBDC), part of the Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network hosted by California State University, Fullerton. Nguyen connected with consultant Katie Nguyen, who helped him through every stage of launching Fanalux. It was through his partnership with the SBDC that Nguyen got connected to Uniti Bank, who helped with financing. The SBDC also introduced Nguyen to Advanced Beauty College, where he was able to find the staff who would care for his eventual clientele. He was also able to get marketing support to help get the word out about Fanalux and its fast, high-quality service mission.
Support was one of the most important things Nguyen got from working with the SBDC. “When I met Katie, she listened to all my concerns and gave me advice about the business and teamwork, along with a lot of valuable connections,” he shares. “They helped me save a lot of time and money by pointing me in the right direction, connecting me with the right people and valuable resources. But Katie also helped me on a personal level as well. She supported me, motivated me; she was my friend more than my consultant and gave me encouragement and strength.”
And it paid off. The grand opening of Fanalux was on August 3rd, which Nguyen calls “a great success, and our special day together with the SBDC.” Countless customers descended on the Fanalux kiosk to experience everything from a 15-minute Manilux for $15, to a 55-minute Gel Lux Combo taking care of hands and feet for just $50. Fanalux clients can now easily book their appointments by downloading an app that allows them to select a time with 24-hours advance notice, and even use it to check in for their appointment when they arrive.
As Nguyen looks toward Fanalux’s future, he’s reflecting on his time with the SBDC, which he calls “a wonderful experience.” And he wants everyone to know not only how valuable they were to Fanalux, but also how helpful they can be to other small business owners just like him.
“Small business owners should definitely come to the SBDC for help, even if they think they don’t need help,” he explains. “The people at the SBDC are resourceful and they have a ton of good connections that will save a lot of headaches and problems if you have their assistance.
“The SBDC has played a very important role in the launch of Fanalux,” Nguyen adds. “We hope to expand in future locations and that the SBDC will continue to be with us on this journey.”
For more information on Fanalux, and to get details on how to download the app and book an appointment, please visit fanalux.com.