How ManiMe Is Changing the At-Home Manicure GameOctober 07, 2020
When nail salons were closed due to COVID-19 earlier this year, my nails did not look great. My friend Erin’s on the other hand, looked consistently groomed and well-manicured. One day, after she flashed some intricate nail art over FaceTime, I had to ask: “How are you getting your nails done right now?” She told me that she had been wearing nail stickers from ManiMe. I haven’t had much luck with nail stickers in the past — they rarely fit correctly and often look fake. But ManiMe’s stickers, Erin assured me, are next level.
I learned that ManiMe uses 3D modeling technology to ensure a custom fit and collaborates with top nail artists in the biz to develop fun, on-trend designs. Thoroughly intrigued, I reached out to the brand’s CEO and co-founder, Jooyeon Song, and peppered her with questions. Read on for our conversation about what inspired her to develop ManiMe, how it works and what’s next for the brand.
What were you doing before ManiMe, professionally?
I have a background in business, marketing and 3D modeling. After completing my studies at Seoul National University, I worked in Asia and Europe as a management consultant. Then, after a couple of years, I attended Stanford Graduate School of Business, where I started working on the idea to create the manicure of the future.
What inspired the brand?
Growing up in South Korea, I always loved having my nails done. But once I started my professional career and began traveling, I rarely had the free time to go to a salon. So, while working as a consultant, I started my search for fast and accessible manicure solutions. I wanted to change my nails as easily as I could change my shoes. At this point, the idea for a custom-fit stick-on nail was born.
At business school, I told my classmate and now ManiMe co-founder David Miro Llopis about my idea. David is really passionate about online marketplaces and knows how direct-to-consumer communities can immediately impact innovation. Throughout business school, we created ManiMe’s 3D-modeling technology and our first stick-on gel prototype, a custom-fit, ready-to-wear gel adhesive. We knew that this idea could change the nail industry, and we moved to Los Angeles to launch and grow ManiMe.
How is ManiMe different from other nail stickers?
ManiMe is the only nail sticker on the market that is custom fit to each and every nail size and shape. They’re easy to apply, and once you’re ready to switch to a new style, you can do it in under five minutes.
We spent several months doing customer interviews, and people were expressing their needs loud and clear. Most requested a healthier alternative to salon nail care to avoid chemicals and gel treatments and wanted to spend less time and money replicating nail art from Instagram.
I'm curious about your 3D technology. How does it work?
We have a proprietary solution that creates a unique 3D model for each nail of each customer. The customers take pictures of their hands with a standard size card on the back (i.e. a membership card, credit card, etc.) and our Computer Vision and Machine Learning algorithm will detect the nail and estimate the shape and curvature. Afterwards, each gel sticker is laser cut to the exact shape of each customer’s nails.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
ManiMe has become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With salon shutdowns nationwide, ManiMe has remained a positive source for nail polish lovers and even nail artists to express their creativity and share their designs.
To date, ManiMe has partnered with 11 celebrity and professional nail manicurists (including Jessica Washik and Madeline Poole) on capsule collections, including those created to benefit the organizations PBA COVID-19 Relief (supporting affected beauty professionals) and the Movement for Black Lives Fund.