Charme Studio

Natural Nail Services - Regular Polish, Gel/Shellac Manicures, IBX Nail Strengthening Treatments, Waterless Pedicures, Organic Facials and Waxing. Nail Parties & Traveling Nails services!

Could you look your nail tech in the eyes if you knew she was being exploited?


Do you have a job where tips are a part of your compensation?  Or perhaps someone close to you like your friend or your daughter very much counts on his or her tips as a part of their salary?  What if every time you earned a tip for a job well done, your boss took the money and said it was to cover the “credit card fees”?  How would that make you feel?  How would that make you feel for your child?  Perhaps like they’re being exploited?  Would you have concerns that something illegal was happening?  Maybe that their boss doesn’t have their best interest at heart?  Remember these questions next time you’re getting a cheap manicure or pedicure, you know the types… almost too good to be true.  I promise you, it IS too good to be true, and every single one of your concerns would be valid.  Sadly, I guarantee this “practice” is happening in a salon near you, and that most people aren’t questioning the “deals.”

In our last post we discussed some of the outrageous (and illegal) short cuts that nail salons commit to save money and keep their prices low.  And while most of us LOVE finding a good deal, the cringe-worthy practices that these shops use on a daily basis are not only health hazards for their customers, but sadly they’re also hurting their own employees; today we will delve further into those implications of cheap mani/pedis.

Here is a list of ILLEGAL money-related practices that I’ve personally experienced (as have other members of my staff) that nail salons do to save themselves money at the expense of their employees:

  • Employees work 10 hour days with no breaks or lunches

  • Nail salons pay their employees between $50 and $100 per day which comes out to $5 to $10 per hour, this is far below minimum wage in most states; salons are able to get away with this by paying half in cash and half in checks, alternating weeks meaning weeks being paid in cash are “under the table,” and for weeks paid in checks the amount is made to look like the minimum wage for however many hours the sum of money SHOULD equate to in order to hide the illegal activity; this practice helps to evade taxation, and to avoid having to truly pay the minimum wage and sick leave pay that many states are beginning to enforce

  • In many cases employees are from other countries (primarily Vietnam) and unfortunately believe they’re making good money (as they are in comparison to their home country) but in reality they have no idea that they’re being exploited; salon owners are preying on the ignorance of their employees

  • Nail technicians aren’t always licensed as the owners care more about having someone in the seat to provide cheap nail services, than the knowledge of the employee

  • Owners take their employees tip money and call it a “credit card fee” even though those fees are tax deductible and should never be taken from the employees

And a few Washington-specific rules and regulations to remember:

  • Employers are required to pay a minimum wage of $11.50/hour ($12/hour in the city of Tacoma); employers must also pay taxes on the entirety of the employees’ salary

  • Effective January 1, 2018, employers must give employees 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked

Here at Charme Studio, we try to be as competitive as possible, but as I’m sure you can see… what we’re going up against is pretty challenging! How can we possibly offer $15 pedicures when a pedicure takes an hour and the minimum wage is $12 per hour?  That means there’s only $3 left to cover taxes, overhead costs, and hopefully to make a profit!  It is simply not possible for nail salons to follow all the legal rules and regulations for the cheap prices we all see.  How is it that manicure and pedicure prices seem to stay the same despite rising living costs? Illegal activities.   

In our next (and last post) in this 3 part series on cheap rates, we will detail the overhead costs all nail salons experience, let you know why salons across the nation are seemingly going “un-checked,” and discuss what you can do to help.  As an organization, we believe it is unfair for nail salon owners to profit at the health expense of their customers and the quality of life expense of their employees.  I will continue to implore our readers to remember these details and look beyond the dollar sign… at what cost is your $10 manicure?  We hope you’ll pause before heading into another assembly-line-style nail salon, and instead look for those committed to fair treatment and safe practices. And eventually, I swear that we will get back to some lighter topics… seriously I feel like a professor right now!