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Nailing It

By bringing manicures and pedicures to clients, this entrepreneur turned a friend's wish into a well-groomed business.

What: Mobile manicures
Who: Cinnamon Bowser of Nail Taxi
Where: Alexandria, Virginia
When: Started in 2003
Startup Costs: $5,000

Cinnamon Bowser's business, Nail Taxi, which specializes in mobile manicures and pedicures, has as much pizzazz as her name. It's no wonder customers who are used to seeing Nail Taxi technicians arrive at their doors in neon pink T-shirts with matching tote bags expect exactly what the business delivers: color.

Bowser wasn't always the "It" girl of mobile manicures. When she started Nail Taxi, the only thing she knew about managing a nail boutique was what she learned from sitting in one as a customer. But all it took was a pregnant friend desperate for a pedicure and a fruitless search for a mobile nail service for the former PR rep to take to the streets, determined to create a boutique that would bring salon-quality nail services home.

After subscribing to a few trade publications and taking a 12-week course in entrepreneurship, Bowser, 36, created Nail Taxi with only $5,000. The mobile nail boutique, which now provides services in Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Richmond, Virginia; San Francisco; and Washington, DC, offers individual, wedding and party manicures and pedicures. Although groups, including wedding parties and baby shower attendees, make up the bulk of Bowser's clientele, her main objective is to provide her customers with unique treatments that cater to their diverse needs.

"Taking care of your nails or getting a manicure is such a small thing," says Bowser. "But if you're used to getting it done, and all of a sudden you find yourself not able to go out and get it done, it affects you mentally."

When it comes to serving clients with special needs, Bowser has done her research. Nail Taxi offers special treatments for pregnant women and people with diabetes that take factors like pressure points and blood flow into consideration.

"People definitely appreciate the fact that we come to them, and that once we're there, we're not rushing out to get to the next client," says Bowser. "Our time with them is our time with them." And with 2006 sales figures reaching $110,000, it's clear that Nail Taxi's clients appreciate Bowser's customer-friendly philosophy.

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This article was originally published in the February 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Nailing It.

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