Tammy Taylor Nails

Aug. 14, 2003


I think when you find something that you truly love and you have a passion for, it becomes easy to succeed.

Tammy Taylor

Putting a finger on success
Starting with a small salon, Tammy Taylor turns nails into a $15-million enterprise

Mike Schwartz/Irvine World News
Tammy Taylor has developed a line of products that are used in over 100,000 salons around the world. These items are in the shipping center of her west coast office on Sky Park Circle.

By Debbie L. Sklar
For Irvine World News

Luckily for entrepreneur Tammy Taylor and nail salons worldwide, dreams of a law degree never materialized.

Today, the 40-year-old CEO, president and founder of Tammy Taylor Nails —with headquarters in Irvine and an East Coast office in Orlando — is easily considered the reigning queen of professional nail products. This year the company will report $15 million in sales and Tammy Taylor products can be found in more than 100,000 salons around the globe.

Not bad for a woman who started on a shoestring budget of a mere $400 in the early 1980s at the tender age of 18.

“I could never go to college because I couldn’t support anything other than a basic education,” she said from her Irvine headquarters, a 9,000-square-foot sales and distribution center. “I decided that if I wanted to go to law school, something I really dreamed of, then I’d have to get a job. I enrolled myself in manicurist school and fell in love with the profession.”

She never looked back. After she finished the trade school, she opened a small, 400-square-foot nail salon and prospered almost immediately. “I opened when nail salons weren’t really around,” she said. “They certainly weren’t on every corner like they are now.”

The funny thing was that ever since she was a kid growing up in Huntington Beach, she was a nail biter.

“Once I was introduced to the world of artificial nails, that was it. I knew I had found my calling,” she said. “I’d use the press-on type when I was a little girl, but once I learned that artificial tips could be made with a foil form, I stopped.”

The small salon, located in Costa Mesa, gained popularity so quickly that Taylor decided to open a larger shop, adding hair stylists and a variety of other beauty operators.

“ After six months, I opened the 3,000-square-foot salon,” she said. “Two years after I expanded, I decided to open another side of the business — education and training —because I was getting hundreds of calls a week from manicurists asking for education. Because the industry was so new at the time, it was hard finding the necessary training to keep up. I would teach classes to other manicurists about sculpting beautiful nails on Sundays so they wouldn’t miss their work during the week. It just spread by word of mouth.”

Taylor said she also noticed that there was a shortage of videos, books and training manuals. It was then that she decided to take her ambitions even further by writing “The Complete Guide to Manicuring and Nail Technology.”

“ I realized that there was a need for a good manicuring/nail manual,” she said. “Today, all states requiring licensing for nail technicians use this book for the basis of their State Board Examinations.”

As time marched on, and thousands of manicures later, Taylor decided to hook up with a chemist friend to create her own line of products. “One thing after another just fell into place,” recalled the former manicurist. “I think when you find something that you truly love and you have a passion for, it becomes easy to succeed.”

Taylor said she worked long hard hours to build her business, often seven days a week.

“ I didn’t mind though because I truly loved what I was doing and I still do,” she said. “For me, it’s about the education and helping people find a career and hopefully I am helping them make better lives. I enjoy giving single moms or stay-at-home moms the freedom to start their own businesses and do what they please. They can schedule their own appointments when they want and support themselves and their kids at the same time.”

The product line took two to three years to develop and continues to this very day. To date, Tammy Taylor manufactures dozens of acrylic powders, various nail files, primers, more than 50 nail colors and everything else in between to help create beautiful nails. Recently, she has added a cosmetics line including lipsticks, exfoliation creams and body creams, all with her name attached.

“ It all came so quickly, but at the time it was slow going, too,” she said. “In the beginning, we all worked so hard, even my dad, Ed, who still works here was driving all over the country in his car teaching classes.”

A good number of Taylor’s family members are employed at her company and she likes it that way. Her brother is the chief operating officer.

“We keep it all in the family,” she said. “Everyone has invested a lot of time and effort. I’ve had people with me for 17 years, and husband and wife teams run the Orlando office. Now, I have second generation nail techs working with us, and that doesn’t happen if you don’t make them happy.”

There is also an 8,000-square-foot Santa Ana facility where other light manufacturing needs are met daily, according to Taylor who closed down the large nail/beauty shop, called California Nails, in 1985 to dedicate all her time to the current business.

“ It’s all light manufacturing, a warehouse and sales in Irvine,” she said, pointing to rows and rows of inventory lining the walls. “Even though we do a big business in Europe, Japan, and Korea, everything is American-made, I’m strong about that. We do a ton of exporting which is usually opposite of other businesses.”

As for the future of Tammy Taylor Nails, Taylor said she is working on entering the retail side of the nail business in the next few months. “Up until now, we’ve only sold to professionals, but we’re moving on. I’d love to see Tammy Taylor boutiques, and I’d also like to have our products sold in major upscale department stores, too.”

Taylor said before she jumps into any new venture, she always does do her homework.

“I analyze everything before I make changes,” she said. “I never take big risks, but I do take a lot of chances. I’m not afraid to make decisions, and I’ve never taken a loan from anyone or any bank. I’ve done everything on my own and I can honestly say that I don’t owe anyone any money.”

She said the great thing about not owing anyone anything is, “There’s no stress and you can open your imagination.”

Taylor also said that she continues to have a great track record.

“Each year our business increases, but I don’t like it to increase a lot,” she said, “I strive for quality versus quantity and I never jeopardize our main objective which is the customers. I never want to get too big for my own britches and that is our philosophy: keeping the customer happy, that is the key.”

Married, Taylor has two sons, enjoys golf and spending time with her family when she isn’t concentrating on making hands look beautiful.

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