By Shirley Hawkins
Veteran screenwriter Michael Elliott can still recall the moment when he was struck by a novel idea.
“Earlier this year, I was sitting next to another gentleman in a women’s nail salon getting a pedicure. We were talking about how uncomfortable we felt in the salon because we were the only men there.
“That’s when I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where men could go who needed feet and nail care? A place where they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place? I suddenly realized that there was no such place-and that realization turned out to be my light bulb moment.”
Elliott, who penned the movies Just Wright, Brown Sugar, and Like Mike, wasted no time bringing his vision to fruition.
The result is Hammer and Nails which held its grand opening on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles on Nov 9th, and it is the first grooming salon established exclusively for males. The décor, which Elliott visualized, features muted tones, various boxing paraphernalia and vintage auto parts on the walls.
The salon offers custom manicures and pedicures and caters to the first time walk-in client to the client who is used to being regularly pampered. Treatments include paraffin treatment and massages, nail trimming and shaping, moisturizing, and callus removal. Prices range from $25 to a total package of salon treatments for $80.
Clients relax in a “man cave” decked out with masculine, brown leather chairs as female staff members buff and massage their feet and hands. “Each chair is equipped with its own 32-inch flat screen as well as its own remote and headphones, so a client can watch what they want to watch,” said Elliott.
Clients can lean back and enjoy a complimentary beverage of their choice, which includes spring or sparking water, root beer, Pepsi, Coke, scotch and beer.
“The moment a client sits in the chair, they love it,” said Elliott. “The first time a client gets a foot massage, it is a transformative moment. There is nothing like getting that hand or foot massage as part of the grooming process. I’ve seen four buddies come into the salon and sit together while getting manicures and watching football. It’s not unusual for the guys fall asleep,” Elliott chuckles.
Elliott added that clients visit Hammer and Nails from all walks of life, from the blue collar guy to clients in the entertainment industry.
“The ages of clients range from the 21-year-old college kid to 80-year-old seniors,” Elliott observed. “We’ve had members of the sports world come in, and actor/comedian Guy Torrey is a customer.”
Elliott said that women have become some of Hammer and Nail’s biggest supporters. “A lot of the women are coming in to make appointments and buy gift certificates for their husbands and boyfriends,” he said. “They are praising God that there is a place where they can send their mates to get a manicure and a pedicure.”
Elliott recalls a blue collar guy who walked in and said that his wife had always wanted him to do something with his hands. He said, ‘I was getting a haircut down the street and I had heard about Hammer and Nails on TV.’ I told him to sit down and that the first manicure was on me. I knew his wife would be so happy.”
Elliott said he is not surprised that Hammer and Nails is attracting so much attention. “We’ve been getting a lot of word of mouth. People have been reading and tweeting about it,” he said.
“Getting a pedicure is not about looks, it’s about hygiene. I think that we are in a moment of change right now as it relates to men and grooming,” said Elliot, who added that some rappers and a number of professional athletes are now stepping out in public looking stylish and well groomed.
“Jay-Z was on the cover of Vanity Fair,” Elliot noted. “Men are getting more comfortable with looking good and taking care of themselves, and this is only the beginning. Five years from now, men who regularly take care of their hands and feet will be as acceptable as getting a haircut.”
Elliott hopes to franchise Hammer and Nails in every major city in the country, adding that interest in Hammer and Nails has been high.
“On average, we have gotten about 40 emails a day from people who want to start a Hammer and Nails franchise in other cities,” said Elliott. “I plan to start franchising Hammer and Nails by March of 2014.
“Having busted feet does not look good,” Elliott said candidly. “If you want to do something good for your wife and your girlfriend, come to Hammer and Nails and get your feet straight. Your wife or girlfriend will say, ‘What in the world did you do?’”
Hammer and Nails is located at 8257 Melrose Ave in Los Angeles or access their website at Hammerandnails-salon.com.
I love this idea! I’ve never understood how “manly” got to be defined as “the opposite of what women do”. So, if women read books, literacy is suddenly “unmanly”. If women are polite and civil, then violence and aggression must be “manly”. If women wear paint on their manicured nails, then it must be super “manly” to drag your nails through the mud??
And then, there’s the part of modern “manhood” that says “you gotta do what all your buddies do - act, dress, talk, look, think exactly like them - follow the herd, conform to its expectations, submit to its rules.. so that maybe the herd will grant you status as a “Real Man”.”
I say “SCREW all that!” Whatever “manhood” means (and, I suggest: character, honesty, dependability, stability, quiet confidence, dignity, respect (self and others), responsibility, charity (community engagement)) - whatever “manhood” is, if it’s threatened by the removal of dirt from one’s hands (or -GASP!- the application of a few drops of paint..), then it isn’t much to be proud of anyway. If society insists that “manly” equals “dirty, horny, drunk, violent, bully, selfish, greedy, shallow and dumb”, then I think it’s more manly to defy these customs than to follow them. I’m glad to see a place where men can be men, instead of frat boys.