Beauty standards in the 21st Century have really changed compared to past years. Nowadays beauty treatments are not only limited to women, men too enjoy getting a professional manicure and pedicure done.

This makes starting up a nail parlour a viable business idea especially if you have a passion for making people look beautiful.

Not long ago, fancy nails were a preserve of wealthy women. Only a select few salons had manicurists but now hundreds are found in nail parlours across the country, as spending on nails increase despite the harsh economy.

Now manicure is the luxury for everyone — and that includes men and low-income spenders.

This was one of the reasons that Phyllis Njuguna made a decision to leave the corporate world and open Delish Nail Bar, one dull morning in November of 2018.

“It had always been so appealing to me; I figured ‘why not try it? I invested roughly Sh.400,000,” she says.

Having expanded her parlour three times in a year and three months later, the 29-year-old says that it is the best decision she has ever made.

Her chic and minimalist studio sits on almost half a floor at Nairobi’s Moi Avenue Bihi Towers, which she says she will expand to the entire floor space in the near future.

“The growth has been so exciting. Business has really been good,” she says.

With 17 staff members, 15 of whom are nail technicians; they only do manicure, pedicure, lashes and eyebrows.

In a day, she says, each nail technician sees an average of five clients.

“I do aggressive social media marketing, which is what I attribute my growth. We also rely on referrals. Our clients come in both by appointment and walk-ins,” Phyllis who has a 22,000 and 3,000 following on Instagram and Facebook respectively says.

Besides the nail salon, she trains manicurists at her Delish Academy and hopes to make her own range of products.

A two-minutes walk from Delish Nail Parlour, I find Fabian Thutu Njukia who practices his nail trade in a neatly organised parlour with pale pink ambience. A year ago, the 32-year-old used to work as a nail technician where he got to understand the market, gain experience and created a name before branching out on his own.

“I started with Sh.100,000,” he says.

Called ‘The Home of Acrylics’, 90 percent of the services offered at Fabian Nails are acrylics. They also do sculpting, gum-gel, gel polish, manicures and pedicures, procedures he charges Sh.800 to Sh.4,000.

Just like Phyllis, Fabian attributes the growth of his business to social media marketing and client referrals. He has a following of close to 12,000 on his business socials.

He and his two-member staff see clients on appointment basis.

“I have seen an increase in the number of clients each passing day. On average, we see six clients in a day,” he says.

In future, Fabian hopes to expand and employ more people. Additionally, he wants to open a training school.

Globally, research has shown that the nail care market is growing significantly and it is estimated that 85 to 90 percent of women and 10 to 12 percent of men use nail care products across the world.

Analysts have forecast that the nail care market size is set to reach Sh.1.3 billion by 2024 from the current Sh.843 million.

On the upper side of town, Steve Mbugua has just moved shop from the city centre. His parlour, Nailtique Enterprises, now occupies a bigger space with nude interiors and a number of portraits for aesthetic.

He too worked as a nail technician in different salons before starting Nailtique in 2017.

“The nail business has gotten better by the day in terms of growth and service. I have also learnt so much more about the skill since going solo two years ago,” says the 30-year-old.

He started Nailtique with about Sh.1.5 million.

“I would attribute my growth on my vision, what and where I want to be. I also have clients who have been supportive. My spouse falls into that category,” says Steve who also markets on social to his 11,000 fans.

Steve and his only staff member hardly ever sit to wait for a walk-in clients. That only happens if a person coincidentally walks in when another client has cancelled. Otherwise, all clients are on appointment basis only.

He recently started training students at his nail studio.

“In future, I would want to focus solely on training. The nail industry in Kenya is still wanting, and I feel that it would grow if manicurists master the craft. I would also love to have a nail product line,” he says.


*How much money do I need to get started?

*What licenses do I need?

*What are the basic equipment and items will I need and what is their approximate cost?

*How do I get started?

*How much profit can I make?

Running a nail salon has its glamorous side but it’s also a lot of work. As the owner of your salon, you need to be conversant with all aspects of your business and also figure out how to make the business sustainable and maintain cash flow.

That said, before getting into the nail salon business, it is advisable to learn by actually working in one. Take up a job at a fairly successful nail salon, learn the ins and outs of successfully managing the business, find out what it is you can do differently, know what are some of the latest nail art techniques and equipment and how much revenue you can expect to make as profit.

As with any other business, you need capital to get started. The least amount you need to open up a small nail salon is Ksh.100,000 excluding licenses and permits.


A good location is key to the success of a nail parlor. It is advisable to choose a location with high foot traffic for maximum visibility. This might set you back quite a generous amount due to high rent and a small outdoor advertisement board to help your business stand out.

Rent prices vary from town to town. In Nairobi, depending on the street and proximity of your space from the road, prices vary from Ksh.60,000 on the higher side to Ksh.18,000 to Ksh.10,000 on the lower side excluding goodwill.

You also need to set aside an extra Ksh.20,000 to Ksh.30,000 to hire a carpenter and interior designer to revamp the space to fit a nail salon.


*5 sets Acrylic Nail Tips – @ Ksh.2,000 each

*Acrylic Nail Kit – Ksh.10,000

*Nail File and Clippers kit – Ksh.2,000

*10 Nail Buffer blocks – @ Ksh.300 each

*Nail Polish LED Light Dryer – Ksh.4,500

*Nail Polish (200 pieces) – @ Ksh.100

*10 Nail Cleansers bottles – @ Ksh.500 each

*10 Nail Polish Removers – @ Ksh.100 each

*10 Nail Glue bottles – @ Ksh.300 each

*10 Nail Moisturizers bottles – @ Ksh.500 each

*5 Manicure Bowls – @ Ksh.700 each

*5 Staff Aprons (depending on number of staff) – @ Ksh.500 each

*Water Heater – Ksh.1,200

*Furniture (Seats, Tables, Décor) – Ksh.7,000

TOTAL – Ksh.77,700


You will require a single business permit from your county government to operate the nail salon. The cost of it will depend on the size of your business and from an analysis from your area ward rep.

A small salon will cost Ksh.5,000 – Ksh.15,000 per year to license.


So you have already identified a suitable location for your nail parlor, gotten the relevant licenses, furnished your work space and bought basic equipment to start with and hired a few staff members to help you. So what’s next? It’s time to open shop.

The first thing you need to do is have an effective marketing strategy that will help you get clients. This can include opening a social media business page, passing out flyers in the neighborhood, having an outdoor advert sign, having a discount for your first customers and depending on your budget, you can organize a grand opening event.


To start small, you can start with as little as Ksh.100,000 and keep re-injecting your profit as the business grows.

Depending on your price list and the services you offer, a nail salon can make you between Ksh.10,000 to Ksh.15,000 on a fairly busy day.


Nail parlor is a wise and timely business idea that doesn’t necessarily require too much capital and has a lot of potential.

In fact, research by popular beauty magazine, NailsMag suggests that 82% of nail salon goers return to get their nails done.

*Written By:*


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