Grace Chiang, like many young women, takes pride in her manicure. However, the Stanford MBA student found that she hardly ever had time to sit in a nail salon. To fix her problem, she and two friends, Jooyeon Song and David Miro, founded Mani.me, a subscription service that sends customers 3-D printed nails.
Chiang views the company as a marriage between the generally female-oriented nail industry and the generally male-dominated technology industry. Mani.me uses images of customers’ hands for measurements, creates a 3-D printing model, and finally sends customers their custom printed stick-on nails. Chiang says the process is “like watching Instagram come to life.”
The company, which launched in April 2018, offers two sets of nails a month for $50 or three sets for $70.
Chiang began doing nails the summer before she began college when a nail shop in her hometown agreed to train her in exchange for manual labor such as cleaning. There she learned to do gel and acrylic nails, a skill she took with her to college where she gave her classmates manicures. Today, Chiang hosts lunch events where women can talk about manicures as well as get them.
“It’s always been something that is deeply important to me, to feel put together and pampered. I worked for McKinsey [& Company] for two years. During that period, I think I only had one manicure. That’s when I realized how impossible it was to upkeep,” said Chiang. “The hours of the salon never match the hours of a high-intensity job like consulting.”
Chiang says that balancing being a student and working as an entrepreneur over 40 hours a week is challenging, but her and her partners continue to spend much of the free time in the lab prototyping new designs and looking for ways to improve Mani.me. The team is currently working on developing an app and revamping their website. They’re also working on delivery logistics. Chiang says they plan to continue to collect users and beta test through August and then work on refining their product for a full launch later this year.