By John Burton Jr.
Imagine being in a nail salon, receiving your normal service, and two strapping construction workers venture in. They’re not there to meet their significant others but proceed to plop down in chairs at the pedicure station. Subsequently, they peel off their dirt-caked construction boots, then place their feet in the awaiting bubbling foot water bath. The technicians not only cater to the blue-collar workers’ footcare needs but extend their services with accompanying manicures.
All this brings to question, “Do real men get manicures and pedicures?” Yes, they do. It seems like an odd combination but one that’s becoming more popular in today’s culture. Although men are known for their rough exteriors and equally rough hands and feet, more men are discovering the pleasures of being pampered. Men from all industries are partaking in this pampering. With this new male patronage, the personal care market is expected to reach $81 billion within the next three years, according to a recent article on Esquire.com.
This culture shift of male self-pampering and possibly alleviating any social stigmas is happening in Charlotte too, thanks to Andrico Thompson, owner of Manny’s Nail Spa.
Opening its doors in November 2021, Manny’s Nail Spa is Charlotte’s first nail salon owned by a Black man.
Becoming a nail salon owner was not in Thompson’s life trajectory. A former producer and songwriter, Thompson pivoted his music career after acquiring a free pedicure chair for his partner at a salon. After a conversation with a friend in his garage, where the chair was stored, that his inspiration hit. His friend teased, “It would be crazy if someone who looked like us were to do women’s nails,” Thompson told Travel Noire in January. This is especially true for Thompson who is 6’4” tall.
After that talk, Thompson researched and later enrolled at the Academy of Nail Technology & Esthetics. After passing his state board exam in February 2021, Thompson realized breaking into a female-driven industry would be difficult. “No one really takes you seriously. My first time asking for a job at a salon, I was told they only hire people who look like them,” Thompson said.
Determined, Thompson persevered opening Manny’s in 2021. The name “Manny” isn’t a nickname or named after someone. It’s a play on the word “manicure” — “manny cures” for men. The spa’s motto is, “We are truly Kings and Queens providing exemplary services for other Kings and Queens.’ When walking into Manny’s, customers can expect to be whist away by an array of services and techniques while being soothed by amazing talks and tunes. “I love having fun conversations with customers and listening to good music and having a good time while I give a great service,” Thompson said.
Thompson, like so many others in the nail industry, said more men should indulge in this pampering, not just for vanity’s sake but equally for the health benefits. According to the Minnesota School of Cosmetology, manicures and pedicures can:
- Support healthy nails and hands
- Decrease stress and alleviate anxiety
- Reduce signs of aging in your hands and feet
Men can go to the salon alone or make it a quality time opportunity with special someone or friends. “I went last month for the first time,” said musician Brian Pettis, 34. “My wife encouraged me to go with her and I enjoyed it — especially spending time with her.” Whereas others use it as a form of me-time. “I go solo,” said management leader Neal Franklin, 54. “It’s relaxing to me and self-care. Plus, I like my hands and my feet looking nice,” he said. Joe Steele, a student at Prairie View A&M University said, “I got interested in it – pampering, because I like to listen to music, and one of my favorite artists, hip-hop artist Lil Yachty, actually launched his own nail polish brand.”
Getting a nail treatment for the first time for a guy might feel a little awkward in the beginning. But they can be reassured that they are not the only gent to walk into a nail salon, and they certainly won’t be the last. “Women go through a lot of work to look good for us, and doing nails takes a lot of time,” Thompson said. “Why not return the compliment?”