NVC Series – Company Profile: ezza

When fellow classmate Jamie Rubinstein mentioned their nail salon business to me for the first time, I immediately related back to the painful three-hour wait when my wife would do her nails. I am always amazed by how great pain points like these are being discovered by the ladies in NVC. Last year, we had a similar team in our section who wanted to develop a quick and easy shaving product for women. Without these teams, there is ABSOLUTELY no way I could possibly get to know such problems as a man. So I am always grateful for the different perspectives brought by these talented, female entrepreneurs. Most importantly, it is not just about nails. Let’s hear about it…

Hi there! We are team ezza and we wanted to share our NVC journey. Our team includes Ale Breuer (’17), Kim Marsh (’17), Erin Lytollis (’17), Andrea McPike (’17), Jamie Rubinstein (’17), and Rita Sherman (’17). We’re so excited to be a team of six strong Booth women participating in this experience, and over the past few months we have been making tons of progress on our business! What is ezza? Well, let’s begin at the beginning…

The Big Picture: Millennial spending on routine beauty and self-care has spurred more than 50% market growth in 5 years. Franchises like European Wax Center, Massage Envy, and DryBar have built their businesses on this spending shift. In an $11.5 billion industry, not a single nail salon operator owns even 1% of market share. Highly educated, professional women ages 26-45 are spending ~$3.4B on nail salon visits each year.

The Problem Today: Women in our target can choose between a full-service luxury salon, where they will spend significant time and money for a decent manicure, or a mom-and-pop corner salon, where they will pay low prices for low quality. Today’s highly scheduled, professional woman can use an app to order and pay for her coffee and skip the line, but she can’t book her nail appointment online, endures unpredictable wait times at the salon, and must bring cash for gratuity.

Where We Come In: Welcome to ezza, nail care for the modern, professional woman. ezza revolutionizes the nail industry by delivering consistent quality in an elevated customer experience.  We focus on the unmet needs of a very specific customer: the on-the-go, modern woman. We specialize in just manicures to ensure consistent quality, and we  remove the fuss out of nail care by offering early morning hours (7AM), an affordable membership model, and seamless online booking and cashless payment. At ezza, it’s not just about nails. We transform an ordinary salon visit into a memorable experience defined by empowerment. The salon design features touches of our signature color, empowermint-green, and a curated playlist of uplifting female power anthems. Our culture celebrates strong women and empowers customers to multitask during their manicure, leaving them feeling confident to conquer the day’s challenges.

We’ve come pretty far on the business in the past few months, and we’re on track to open our first salon location in River North this summer.

First, we’ve operated a fully functioning pop-up salon in Gold Coast. In fact, a number of Boothies have been customers! Through the pop-up, we were able to learn more about customer demand, and refine the elements of our branded customer experience that’s critical to our success.

We also completely redesigned our logo and website, which you can visit at www.ezzasalon.com. This was a great learning experience for us as we looked to hone in on some of the visual elements that will define our brand. It was through this experience that we coined our signature color, “empower-mint green”.

This past month, we were selected as one of 12 finalists out of over 600 entrants for Project Entrepreneur, an accelerator program for women-led start-ups created by Rent the Runway and UBS. Our founder, Ale, attended their weekend workshop in New York and brought back tons of great learnings and connections that are helping to guide us through the NVC process.

Coming up next on our agenda, we are so excited to be launching a crowdfunding campaign through ifundwomen, a platform specifically for women-led startups and small businesses. As part of the campaign, we’ve created a brand new video sharing our story. If you’re interested in checking it out or even donating (please do!), you can visit our ifundwomen page here.

We look forward to continuing the NVC process and opening our first location. We will be sure to keep everyone informed of our progress, but if you have questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ale at: ale@ezzasalon.com.

Our fun fact: ezza comes from the Italian word “esatto” meaning “exactly”: our customers know exactly what they are getting, each and every time they visit ezza. 
– Contributed by Jamie Rubinstein, Chicago Booth Class of 2017

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