Nailed It

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This one’s definitely for the “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?” files: After logging decades as arguably the top nail pro on the red carpet and runway circuit, and then launching a successful product line steeped in her healthy-ingredients POV, Deborah Lippmann is letting the masses in on all her many tricks and tips.

In fact, the “Deborah Lippmann Complete Course to the Perfect Natural Manicure”, unveiled in March on the digital platform Thinkific, is so packed with info, purchasers may never set foot inside their corner nail joint again. And if that happens, it will fully align the overall trends in the professional nail market, which has been on a downward trajectory since the pandemic.

Professional Nail Market in Decline

According to a report by Statista, as of 2018, the total market size for beauty salons in the U.S. providing hair, skin, and nail services, was $53.6 billion. Of that figure, nails accounted for 15.9 percent and the annual spend on nail salon services was $8.36 billion.

While $8.36 billion sounds robust, it really isn’t when you consider that it’s only marginally better than the numbers in 2013, when pro nail services clocked-in at $8.28 billion. And when your parent category is in decline, as the hair and salon industry is – it’s lost 2.3 percent per year from 2018 to 2023, according to IBISWorld – it’s easy to see how the nail sector gets dragged down with it.

Conversely, guess what’s booming? Global nail polish sales, which hit $15.2 billion last year, according to analytics platform StyleSage. Sure, some of those polishes might be tossed in a handbag and taken to the salon, but I’m guessing that’s only fraction. Mostly, it’s used at home, possibly by the very people Lippmann is targeting with her manicure course.

“With the economy, the last recession and during Covid, many people cut their salon visits and did their nails at home,” says Lippmann. “It was out of necessity, but also to save money.”

Summoning Your Inner Nail Tech

When Lippmann tells me she channeled the at-home nail novice while creating her course, she isn’t kidding. Mapped-out in ten extremely in-depth video training modules (Lippmann calls them “chapters”), it includes everything from tools and best practices for polish removal to filing and buffing, cuticle care and application of base coats, color and topcoats. And that doesn’t include the many helpful add-ons, like PDFs on the history of nail shapes.

Shot entirely in Lippmann’s New York City apartment, the course is emblematic of the way this unassuming nail guru runs her business. Despite her own personal success – this is a woman who was discovered by Bobbi Brown, was summoned to Paris by an on-tour Mariah Carey and counts Oprah, Lady Gaga and Cher among her many fans – Lippmann’s business is still owned and operated by just herself, her husband and brother.

“I’m in all the videos,” Lippmann says. “We shot it right in our home, and the whole thing took just a few months to put together. It was a family affair — we filmed and my brother edited.”

An Innovative Bargain That Quickly Pays for Itself

As a bit of an online-learning junkie herself, Lippmann says she’s surprised she didn’t come up with the idea for her course even sooner. Still, she’s the first out of the gate with a direct-to-consumer education offering by a foremost expert in her category. This is the nails equivalent of, say, the late, great Kevyn Aucoin teaching us how to do our makeup, or a Bliss Spa-era Marcia Kilgore showing us the ins and outs of giving a killer facial.

And given that the average cost of a basic salon manicure in the U.S. is close to $23, with a $200 purchase price, Lippmann’s course will quickly pay for itself.

And that’s before the generous gift with purchase. Valued at more than $100, it includes a ton of Deborah Lippmann tools, nail care products, base, topcoat and two polishes. “It honestly was a no-brainer to me,” Lippmann says of her massive GWP. “I want my customers to have what they need while they’re taking the course.”

While Lippmann’s too modest to say that she thinks other beauty experts of her ilk will dive into the course-creation pond, I’m guessing it’s only matter of time before my inbox gets flooded with news of similar ventures. Especially when they hear that Lippmann projecting 1500 first-year course purchases, and she’s already had interest from beauty schools looking to license the program for their aspiring nail techs.

But for now, Lippmann is focused on helping all the people who eagerly scoop up her award-winning Gel Lab Pro Polish and The Cure Cuticle Repair Cream learn to take their nail care into their own hands.

“I wanted to give the person who was struggling with at-home manicures confidence,” Lippmann says. “So, I just thought of them. What do they need?” So simple, and yet so smart.

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