Meet Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of Glosslab, the membership-based nail studio in New York City.  Glosslab has 2 brick and mortar locations in West Village and Flatiron (with another location to open next month – yes, they are expanding!!). 

When the pandemic hit, the innovative manicure studio, pivoted to keep their small business afloat.  Rachel worked quickly to keep the paychecks in the pockets of her nail technicians by creating three Glosslab manicure kits, and Rachel has even more proprietary products on the way. Self care is important now more than ever, especially with people having to pamper themselves at home this year. 

As a businesswoman,  Rachel was always in search of the perfect efficient manicure but found herself constantly frustrated with the lack of consistency in service and cleanliness standards. Recognizing that countless women desired the same thing, Rachel surrounded herself with a team of experts to create, operate, and scale Glosslab. Glass built Glosslab on five key pillars including: Hygiene, Efficiency, Innovation, Expertise and Empowerment.  In addition to being totally water free – Hygiene is Glosslab’s guarantee, with strict measures in place long before COVID-19 guidelines were developed. Upon re-opening following the COVID-19 lockdown, Glosslab is implementing additional health and safety measures, including installing a ventilation system to properly circulate air.

The future-forward salon features technology-enhanced services (online booking, cashless payment, contactless check-in and check-out) and performance-based products at the forefront of beauty and nail trends including best-in-class long-lasting polish, gel, and non-toxic polishes. All appointments are booked online – germ free! – and Glosslab currently has 1,000+ members, with a waitlist of 3,000+.

We were able to chat with founder Rachel Apfel Glass on her self care thoughts, expansion plans and more!

Can you share why you started GLOSSLAB?

Rachel Apfel Glass: I worked in hedge fund fundraising for 10 years and was always in search of a quick, clean manicure as a part of my busy lifestyle as a working woman and later, a working mom. I always felt like manicures were errands; a very joyless and inefficient experience. I did tons of research on the nail salon industry, including going to nail technician training school.  I started Glosslab based on the core principles of hygiene (this is not taught in training schools!) and efficiency.  How can we make this experience consistent, branded and fun? Glosslab was born!

What is your background?

Rachel Apfel Glass: I went to Columbia Business School and then worked in hedge fund fundraising for ten years.  I always enjoyed having an entrepreneurial role within companies but ultimately knew it was time to start my own business. 

How is your business growing during the pandemic?

Rachel Apfel Glass: As an entrepreneur, I see times of disruption as times of tremendous change and opportunity for growth.  For Glosslab, we are expanding our retail locations from 2 locations to 7 locations throughout NYC and then expanding to other cities.  We launched our mani kits during the pandemic and are about to launch our full line of nail polishes and hand + foot care.

How did your brand pivot in the early stage of the pandemic?

Rachel Apfel Glass: In the early stages of the pandemic, we cared most about the safety and security of our Glosslab employees.  At Glosslab, my core principle is empowerment – starting from within our company.  We have a true career path for our employees and technicians where they have many growth and learning opportunities within our company. I started Glosslab with hygiene as a #1 priority.  I did lots of research – our services, including pedicures, are completely waterless due to the germs and bacteria that live in pedicure bowls, even when they are cleaned. 

Our tools are one-time use only or otherwise cleaned in a hospital-grade sterilizer.  When we re-opened in July, we did not have to pivot our store model beyond adding Covid safety measures – temperature checks, plexi dividers for services, masks and health checks.  We also launched our mani “emergency” kits during the pandemic as well as our gel eraser kit – for gel removal at home or on the go.

With everyone at home and WFH, why is self care important? 

Rachel Apfel Glass: I believe that if you look good, you feel good and you do good.  For manicures, it is so much more about the feeling for me – feeling polished and put together even if it’s sometimes just for zoom calls or just for myself.  It’s also so important to take that “me” time. It’s not selfish – I am the best version of myself as a founder, mom, wife, friend, etc. when I can fuel myself first.  This looks different for different people.  For me this is exercise, meditation and iced coffee!

What are some ways you can “pamper” yourself?

Rachel Apfel Glass: For me, this is yoga, meditation and making sure I have time each day that’s mine alone (which is sometimes hard with 2 young girls!)

What are 3 tips you can share with young entrepreneurs?

Rachel Apfel Glass:

  • Be you!
  • Take the first step – it’s often those little things in the beginning to push an idea forward that seem small but can get it going.
  • Ask for help.  No one can do everything – don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

What is your favorite quote?

Rachel Apfel Glass: Create your own happiness!

What are additional future plans for you/the brand?

Rachel Apfel Glass: I am so excited to build Glosslab and truly modernize the manicure/pedicure experience – both in-store and at home with our proprietary products.  There is a lot to come!

What is your favorite part of running a company?

Rachel Apfel Glass: They say that entrepreneurs are the crazy ones who choose to work 100+ hour weeks so they don’t have to work a 40 hour/9-5 job — this could not be more true! While I have never worked harder in my life, I have also never enjoyed what I do more.  My team and Glosslab member community are by far my favorite part.

What do you hope the company will look like 5 years down the road? 10?

Rachel Apfel Glass: I hope to see a Glosslab on many corners throughout the country!

Photos: ℅ Glosslab (Taken pre COVID-19)