Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
NEDA ARMIAN, 42, is an independent film producer based in Manhattan who takes meetings over lunch, while simultaneously reading e-mails and scripts. “A couple days a week, I work late because of the time difference with Los Angeles,” she said. “It’s just part of the routine.”
But if you’re picturing a frazzled workaholic with smudged mascara, chipped nail polish and a pencil holding up root-showing frizz, think again.
“For me personally, how I dress and look suggests my tastes for the films I make, and can suggest if I have it together and if I’m in touch with the pulse of culture,” said Ms. Armian, who wears her vibrant brown hair shoulder-length and with a deep side part.
Thanks to the recent introduction of services like Antonio Prieto Select, a mobile salon that Ms. Armian uses to keep her tresses trimmed and freshly blown out, women (and men) with office jobs are integrating their beauty routines into their hectic schedules.
“Urban woman are so busy with jobs, families and life, and it becomes harder to find a couple of hours to carve out to go and see your stylist on a day and time that works for both the client and the stylist,” said Antonio Prieto, owner of a brick-and-mortar salon in Chelsea, explaining why he started the traveling salon, which is staffed by a team of handpicked freelance hair stylists and makeup artists, that he said has visited clients at Corcoran, Google, Credit Suisse and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“Convenience is such a luxury in this day and age,” Mr. Prieto said.
But bringing the beauty salon to your office door comes with a premium. A blow-dry with Prieto Select is $150 (it’s $65 to $70 in Mr. Prieto’s salon), specialty styling is $200 (versus $95 at the salon), and a full face of makeup is $200 (instead of $125).
To keep its costs in line with average New York City pricing, Manicube, a mobile-manicure provider with clients at Bain & Company, Ogilvy & Mather and Seyfarth Shaw, includes quick-dry drops (generally a $2 extra charge at some nail salons) to limit its service to 15 minutes. Manicube said it donates $1 from every manicure to Kiva, a micro-loan organization that helps budding entrepreneurs.
Elizabeth Whitman and Katerina Mountanos, formerly of BeautyBar.com, founded the company in July. “We saw firsthand that getting a manicure as a working woman was a chore,” Ms. Whitman said. “We had to duck out at lunch, rush home before the corner nail salon closed or spend an hour of our hard-earned free time on a Saturday to get one.”
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
The in-office manicures, one of a growing number of mobile grooming services, are available from a company called Manicube.
“Additionally,” she said, “pre- and post-business school, we both worked in the financial industry and saw that corporate offices had been offering male-focused services for years, such as shoe shine and hair barbers, and we thought: why not services for women that can make their lives easier?”
She is bullish on the company’s prospects in other cities. “The New York market is actually one of the hardest to make the Manicube model work in because of the abundance of corner nail salons in the city,” Ms. Whitman said. “But there is clearly a breakdown in the service that these nail salons provide — both in convenience and quality.”
Like Ms. Armian, the film producer, Meryl Rosen, 31, an assistant general counsel at the Gilt Groupe, the flash sales site, and a Manicube customer, has a tied-up work schedule filled with meetings, conference calls and document drafting. “With my busy schedule, I don’t have time to get a manicure outside of the office during the workweek,” Ms. Rosen said. “Typically, I would get a manicure on Sunday evenings at my local nail salon.”
Now, she books and pays for a Manicube appointment online, reserving a time slot and receiving a confirmation e-mail and calendar download to add to her schedule. The company offers 80 nail polish colors, with some of their recent most populars being Essie in Ballet Slipper, OPI in Cajun Shrimp, and Chanel in Particulière.
“Everything is structured to be seamless, but also to be a relaxing and enjoyable service,” Ms. Whitman said.
Though one can understand a glamour-industry company like Gilt being tolerant of such timeouts, not all businesses are receptive to their employees getting gussied up in the office during business hours, and not all employees feel comfortable doing so much as pulling out a compact. (If anecdotal evidence is any indication, some workers even feel awkward about accepting the brief at-desk massages often offered as corporate perks.)
Yana Paskova for The New York Times
Kristine Cruz, left, styles the hair of Neda Armian, a film producer, in Ms. Armian's Manhattan home office while she works.
For those retiring violets, there is the LeMetric Mobile Hair and Beauty Studio. Elline Surianello, who has owned the LeMetric Hair Center in Midtown since 1987, recently bought a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and had it custom-built into a beauty shop on wheels that offers blowouts and cuts in front of your office, like a taco truck.
“Time and convenience are one of the most important factors for women, so there was a definite need to go mobile in order to reach those customers who couldn’t make it to my Midtown salon,” said Ms. Surianello, who dreams of hitting the road. “I hope to be able to roll out the mobile hair studio across the U.S. someday.”
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