When I first heard about a manicure spot for men, I couldn’t help but scoff. It’s quite fashionable these days to slap “For Men” on products from hand lotion to vitamins in an attempt to market to the less fair sex. But when I saw shots of Hollywood’s Hammer & Nails, appointed more like a cigar bar than a salon, I decided it might be worth investigating. And I’m not the only one.
Lately, it seems, men have become more conscious of details. “Guys pay a lot more attention to how they look, and it’s not necessarily a ‘metro’ thing—they just want to look good,” says Michael Elliot, CEO and founder of this new nail shop for men. He cites NBA players as an example of the trend. “They used to come to games looking like rappers. Now rappers don’t even dress like rappers.”
But one area of the male body that hasn’t quite caught up with this trend is… nails. “Even guys who pay a lot of attention to their appearance in other ways don’t pay the same attention to their nails,” Elliot notes. He’s aiming to change that.
Despite being decidedly non-metro, he used to love getting manicures and even pedicures, except for one thing. “Nail shops aren’t for men. Everything from the color scheme to the chairs is designed for women. Women [would] look at me like ‘what are you doing here?’ ”
So Elliot, a former writer for The Source and a screenwriter (Like Mike, Brown Sugar, Just Wright), aimed to create a space that was more welcoming to men, and men from all walks of life at that. “I didn’t want a marble floor type place that was only good for rich guys from Brentwood,” he says, “I want a place that’s equally welcoming to a guy who installs DirecTVs for a living.”
And we have to say, he pretty much, um, nailed it. I’m not exactly the guy you’d picture coming in for a manicure. I don’t have a marble floor at home. I’m covered in cheap-looking tattoos that are de rigueur among aging punk rock dudes like myself. I have a cop ’stache. Yet I’m completely at home here—like I’m relaxing in my dream den, just sitting back and being fussed over.
That’s because Hammer & Nails’ vibe lies somewhere between your favorite tavern and a barbershop. High definition televisions with premium sports networks hang from the ceiling. Every man has his own remote and set of headphones. A fridge full of gratis booze awaits thirsty clients. A pair of old boxing gloves and a heavy bag festoon a back wall. A gigantic tin sign reading “AUTO” lies behind the seats. “I wanted to open a place that was worthy of that sign,” explains Elliot.
Except with plush leather easy chairs that make any man feel like a king, plus dark wood and low lighting offering solace at any time of day. If you need to unwind for an hour after a big meeting, this is the perfect place to do it.
While Elliot is a man’s man, he employs a team of lovely ladies to do your nails. Because, honestly, isn’t that what any man would want? You’ll get your nails cut, filed and buffed with a bit of shine, then a thorough hand massage. Especially for the man who works with his hands, this can easily be worth the price of admission by itself.
All told, the 50-dollar manicure (complete with a glass of Chivas Regal) took about an hour. The manicurist was very focused on me, chatting with me about the wife, the job and my tattoos. Conversation flowed easily, with no awkward pauses or pressure to converse. Relaxation city. It’s a luxury I and many other men rarely afford themselves, and I’m left wondering why.
So is Elliot, who envisions groups of guys getting groomed. That’s more common than you might think, and part of the point. “I wanted to create a place where men didn’t just feel comfortable coming with their friends—they wanted to bring their friends here like ‘you have to see this.’ ” Indeed, he has footage of entire rows of buddies kicking back and watching the game, chatting with manicurists or even snoozing while getting their nails done. “They come in all loud and ten minutes later they’re napping,” jokes Elliot.
As I walk out, the desk girl hands me a card for ten percent off my next trip, and there will definitely be a next trip, for the hand massage alone. Even this grizzled punk rocker isn’t too tough for that kind of luxury.
—Hammer & Nails photos by Jakob Layman