Noreen Divina, the CEO of Nailandia, on Nailing a Highly Successful Franchise Business

Whether it’s the revival of salons post-pandemic or the growing popularity of pampering, Noreen Divina, the CEO of Nailandia, shares why a highly franchised salon business model works.

The Global Nail Salon Market size is valued at $11.86 billion USD (around PHP 671.35 billion) in 2022 and is expected to reach $20.19 billion USD (around PHP 1.14 trillion) by 2029 at a compounded annual growth rate of 7.9%. This just goes to show that after a major slump in the pandemic, the nail salon industry has experienced a marked resurgence in the past year.

What’s more, nail salons used to be frequented by mostly female customers. But nowadays, men have been seen entering nail shops for their grooming and pampering needs. The menu of services has also expanded from the basic manicure and pedicure to include nail art, nail enhancements, and extensions, hand and foot massages, lash extensions, as well as massage and spa treatments.

Why? The growing demand for quality preening and fashionable nails has resulted in many one-off nail salons. That same demand, however, has boosted the businesses of existing nail salon brands like Nailandia that took advantage of the opportunity to grow and expand. 

Owned and operated by CEO Noreen Divina, Nailandia opened in 2011 with a lone company-owned branch in Tomas Morato, Quezon City. Just a year and a half after the first branch opened, she started franchising the nail salon shop. Moreover, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Nailandia had 160 branches and presently, there are 180 branches (with more to open) spread across Metro Manila and the provinces.

Given the immense success of Nailandia, Noreen shares how franchising has helped her business grow in leaps and bounds, and why business owners should do the same.

The Road to Salon and Spa Success

“Would you believe me if I told you that I have not had a major struggle—except for mandated closures during COVID-19—since I started the business?” says Noreen in her exclusive interview with The Business Manual.

In fact, the CEO’s too-good-to-be-true story started a decade ago when she would hide away at the salon weekly to destress. “My husband would call to ask where I was and I’d always be at the salon getting my nails done or having a massage,” she recounts. “As a joke, he told me that I should open my own nail salon so I could save on expenses. And that’s what I did!” 

Noreen then enrolled in nail and massage classes to learn the basics. Even now she takes pride in saying that when it gets very busy in the salons and the staff cannot keep up, she can step in to serve a client.

Moreover, she has participated in different nail salon fairs and trade shows abroad to widen her knowledge about nail care and techniques. “I wanted to exceed the quality of service offered by the salons I used to visit. That meant knowing the ins and outs of the industry, working with reputable suppliers, hiring skilled people (and training newbies), and essentially being on top of everything to achieve my vision for Nailandia,” she further narrates.

Passionate Entrepreneur—Nailandia CEO Noreen Divina is proud to have a business with women at the forefront. “Both our workforce and clientele are composed primarily of women. It’s women helping women to achieve a better quality of life.”
Passionate Entrepreneur—Nailandia CEO Noreen Divina is proud to have a business with women at the forefront. “Both our workforce and clientele are composed primarily of women. It’s women helping women to achieve a better quality of life.”

The Business Model of One

What can she attribute her success to after 12 years in the business and 180 franchise branches? “A decade ago I started this business with PHP 1.5 million pesos,” Noreen explains. “This is roughly the same amount I charge each franchisee now at a PHP 400,000 franchise fee plus the franchise package, which is dependent on the size of the salon.”

“If they cooperate with us and take care of the branch then it could lead to them owning more shops in the future,” she goes on to add. “Why don’t I own more branches, you ask? For me, it’s not about control. Nailandia has lasted this long because, truly, it’s not just a business—it’s an advocacy. It’s about helping people to start their own businesses, giving job opportunities to more women, and empowering underprivileged families while ensuring healthy profits for the company.”

However, having a highly franchised business set-up can lead to success only if you have the following: a system in place to deliver a repeatable model, a brand that resonates among a wide range of clients, and franchisee operators who will continue to create brand value in day-to-day operations.

Other basic considerations that come into play are location, quality of products used, skilled technicians, and affordability of services. Fortunately, for Nailandia, they seem to have mastered this winning strategy.

Comfortable Spaces for Self-Expression—Nailandia’s interiors of blue, green, and white echo its ethos of gender neutrality.

Noreen Divina: A New Breed of CEO

Contrary to most CEOs, Noreen does not have a single marketing unit—much less a business degree to her credit. In fact, she graduated from the University of Sto. Tomas with a degree in BS in Biology and has had short stints as an employee in a beverage company and as a business owner of a laundromat.

But it was when she pursued her passion in the beauty industry that she found fulfillment and success and her biology courses proved helpful as she decided on what wellness treatments to include in the Nailandia menu of services.

As the CEO of her own company, Noreen relies on trusted employees to help her run the business. “I am a macromanager. It’s important to have a core team that understands and delivers on the company goals set for the year,” she explains.

Trends and Insights on the Salon and Spa Industry

“My role is to make sure that Nailandia stays relevant and up-to-date when it comes to trends,” Noreen expresses. “And that we cater to the needs of women, men, and everybody in between across all ages.” This is why to this end, she acknowledges that for the younger set, nail art is an expression, and catering to this demographic could well be the main driver for business in the months to come.

The CEO notes that the influence of K-beauty trends is also very apparent. Likewise, for the 20 and up segment, there is a demand for eco-conscious, toxin-free products. “I invest heavily in training our technicians and partnering with reputable suppliers,” Noreen reveals. “Nailandia is known for delivering quality service at affordable prices. It’s a must that we have and retain skilled people as well as use the best products to back our promise.”

A progressive woman ahead of her time, Noreen also believes in leveraging digital tools to communicate with her customer base. This is why she is on top of the brand’s social media platforms—by ensuring that weekly multiple postings are made.

Given its strong social media presence and equally strong brand recall, Nailandia is supported by local celebrities—some of whom have become franchiseeswith actress Marian Rivera as its main endorser.

As for her advice to people who would like to start their own business, Noreen says: “There is no substitute for finding something that you love to do. Half the time, the will to continue on is brought about by your passion for your business.”

“Know your market [and] know your customers—even your competitors so you can come up with a solid business plan. Be fair in your dealings. Take advantage of social media as a marketing tool. Believe in yourself and trust that God will help you achieve your dreams,” she ends.