What started as a joke for Andrico Thompson became a calling.
After 20 years as a songwriter and producer, Thompson traded in his stage name “Big Dreek” for “Rico aka Mista Pedi.” He never expected to own a nail salon, let alone become a certified nail technician. It started off as a joke with the fellas, but Thompson took it seriously, opening Manny’s Nail Spa in November.
- “Right after the joking, I jumped right online and didn’t even look at the options,” Thompson told me. “I just saw the first name, Academy of Nails and Esthetics, applied, got accepted [and] went to school.”
- 300 hours and a state board exam later, Thompson was on his way to his latest entrepreneurial venture, as he also owned a party bus company, Party Life Buses.
Why it matters: Thompson, a Shelby, North Carolina native, wants to tackle gender stereotypes surrounding the industry. At 6-foot-4, he knows he is not who people expect as their nail technician.
- He wants to serve as a mentor for other nail technicians and entrepreneurs, particularly men, because he didn’t have that.
Relaxation isn’t just for women and getting your nails done doesn’t make you any less of a man.
- Thompson said a few friends have stopped by.
- “I’m trying to get these guys to open up a little bit more,” Thompson said. “You don’t have to be so tough all the time.”
Details: Manicures start at $35 and pedicures start at $40. The space features nine pedicure stations and four manicure stations. Expect Neo soul and 90’s R&B music and a relaxing atmosphere.
Location: 529 Briar Creek Road near Bojangles Entertainment Complex.
People assume Thompson is “Manny,” or his business must be named after someone. It’s actually a play on the word “manicure,” particularly manicures for men.
- He prefers giving pedicures, as manicure stations aren’t meant for someone of his size.
What’s next: A grand opening is TBD. Thompson also intends to open a nail school in the spring and eventually franchise Manny’s.
- “I want to create jobs,” Thompson said.
Yes, but: Black-owned businesses declined 41% between February and April 2020, “the largest rate of any racial group,” per a House Small Business Committee report. But Thompson isn’t worried.
- He stepped into the role of salon owner quickly, graduating in February, signing the lease in October.
- “I put it into the universe and it happened,” Thompson said. “That’s why I know I’m meant to be in this position. Pandemic or anything right now probably ain’t going to stop anything.”
The big picture: While the pandemic did force the growing nail salon industry to press pause, the industry, which values $8 billion, per Research and Markets, continues to rebound.