The Nail Social is a socially-conscious salon that was established with the aim of training and employing local underprivileged women with a higher barrier to employment, so as to help them progress from a position of vulnerability to security and self-sufficiency. The Nail Social hope to continue to engage this segment of society for sustainable impact and positive results, and look forward to including these women as part of their core team.
We sit down with Germaine Monteiro, co-founder of The Nail Social to find out more!
Beensprout: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Germaine! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how the idea for The Nail Social came about.
Germaine: My first job some 10 years ago was as a trainee manicurist at Polished Divas Nail Lounge, a lifestyle salon that was run by my current partner, Cheryl. She taught me everything i know about nails, and i worked with her for a good 6 years until i got married and moved to USA with my husband. I loved the concept of a lifestyle nail salon and dreamed about opening my own salon one day, but never really got the guts to take the next step. A month after i moved back to Singapore, Cheryl contacted me, told me her idea of starting up a salon again and invited me to join her. We caught up for coffee and she shared how a bad experience with a greedy and unscrupulous investor in a previous business venture had inspired her to start a business that did not have only money as its main motivation. She wanted to be able to use our skills to help benefit other women who could not find a job and were struggling financially. She cited ex-convicts and single mothers as examples, and that really struck a chord with me as I grew up in a single-parent household and saw first hand the challenges my mother faced to raise me and my siblings. We spent the next couple of months planning, and finally opened The Nail Social in January this year!
Beensprout: The Nail Social focuses on helping underprivileged women. How many beneficiaries have you helped so far, and what does The Nail Social do differently from other nail salons that makes a difference for them?
Germaine: We run a vocational training & employment programme with several family services centres and social service agencies in Singapore, and our main aim is to provide women with an interest in the beauty industry with an opportunity to learn a professional skill that could increase their chances of gaining employment. The women go through a professional manicurist course at the The Pink Room International Nail Academy, the largest nail school in Singapore that is registered with the Council of Private Education, and this means that the certificate that they receive after passing their exams is fully recognised by MOE and other advanced learning institutions. We sponsor the full course fees and provide all materials for them to learn and practice, and mentor them throughout their learning journey.
Since January, we have accepted 6 women into the programme. Although we have had 2 dropouts, I hope that whatever skills they have learnt with us will benefit them in future.
Beensprout: Do you think there is more we can do as society to help these ladies?
Germaine: A lot of emphasis is placed on helping these women financially by giving them money, rations or groceries, but while I’m sure this is useful, I don’t think it is very sustainable. The women we’ve met do not want to rely on the government or donors for handouts. They want to be able to support themselves and their children, but unfortunately poverty is a vicious circle. I hope for society, especially more business owners and employers, to realise that they are in a position to make a difference…be it through giving the women an opportunity or by making it a point to support other business who do.
Beensprout: The Nail Social works together with many different social enterprises and charities. Tell us a bit about them and why you’re working with them.
Germaine: Through our nail salon, we hope to inspire our customers to be conscious of where they spend their money and that they can actually do good even while going about their daily/weekly activities. To practice what we preach, we also make it a point to support other social enterprises and fair-trade/eco-friendly products wherever possible, from the drinks that we serve, to the products that we use and sell, and the third-party companies that we partner or do joint promotions with. Through this, we hope to create a whole eco-system of socially-conscious businesses and consumers that can network and support each other.
We try as much as possible to support charitable and fundraising events. I feel it’s also important to involve our beneficiaries in such events as well, so that they in turn can do their bit to give back to the community.
Beensprout: As the Nail Social approaches its first year mark, do you have any birthday wishes for it?
Germaine: This past year has been filled with blood, sweat, tears, laughter and happiness, and I hope everything that we’ve worked so hard for has indeed made a difference in the lives of our beneficiaries. I wish for another eventful year (and many more, of course), and for us to be able to grow The Nail Social soon so that more beneficiaries can benefit from our programme!
Beensprout: Lastly, do you have any advice for budding social entrepreneurs?
Germaine: Always remember why you started. When things get tough (and it is going to), remembering what motivated you to get started in the first place will help keep you going!
You can support The Nail Social by purchasing vouchers for The Nail Social on Beensprout Marketplace! The vouchers are for any of The Nail Social’s services and not only will you be giving a loved one a luxurious treat, you will also be supporting a meaningful social cause!
The Nail Social is a lifestyle nail salon that offers manicure, pedicure and foot reflexology services, coffee and desserts, as well as fair trade retail all housed under one roof. Enjoy this complete suite of offerings in a luxuriously intimate setting, including a personal iPad pre-loaded with movies, games, books and podcasts; coffee and snacks; as well as a complimentary glass of wine on Fridays and Saturdays. Most products used, served or sold in The Nail Social are non-toxic, eco-friendly, fair-trade and/or cruelty-free.