MASHPEE — More than 50 percent of businesses fail in their first five years. For entrepreneurs, making it through five years is a big achievement.
Count Cape Cod Nail Co. among the survivors.
In 2016, Sarah Mason was a stay-at-home mom in search of a job that suited both her interests and busy parenting schedule. There was only one problem – none were available.
“I was having a really hard time finding a place where I wanted to work and which gave me the flexibility to raise my kids,” she said.
Mason decided to forge her own path, turning what had been a side gig and hobby into a career and a passion. That’s when she launched Cape Cod Nail Co., a one-person startup that offered on-site manicures and pedicures. Its initial services were geared towards weddings, something Mason had experience with.
Prior to starting her own business, Mason said, “All my friends were getting married and I’d do their nails. It was really a great time celebrating this big moment in their lives. I got the idea in my head this would be a good solution. Nobody else was offering that service.”
In February, Cape Cod Nail Co. will celebrate its five-year anniversary, having grown in leaps and bounds from its humble beginnings. “Owning my own business has been super fun, coming up with new ideas all the time,” she said. “I love everything about it. I love meeting new people, I love the people I work with, and I love the creative control I get to have here.”
A year after it opened, Cape Cod Nail Co. added its own line of nail polish. Today, it has 36 colors with clever, nautical names like Chowdah Head, Don’t Be Shellfish, Olive The Tourists Are Gone, and We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat that are all inspired by this place Mason calls home. She takes pride in the fact that the line is eco-friendly and doesn’t contain toxic chemicals.
In 2018, Mason participated in EforAll South Coast’s Business Accelerator, a program that provided her with grant funding as well as invaluable mentorship and networking opportunities that allowed her to grow Cape Cod Nail Co.
When the pandemic hit last spring, Mason was quick to adapt her mobile offerings. “We pivoted and reduced the minimum we’d serve to parties of two and three instead of six and eight,” she said.
While she experienced a reduction in weddings – the backbone of her business in its first few years – she was busier than ever in 2020 with customers booking in-person parties just because. “We had one of our busiest summers ever,” she said. “We did a handful of weddings, probably a quarter of the volume we normally we do. It was mostly pods of people – families looking for a nice escape from pandemic life for a couple of hours.”
At the end of last year, Mason finally found a permanent home for Cape Cod Nail Co., opening up a brick-and-mortar store in Mashpee Commons. Here, she and her staff of four offer a range of nail services – manicures, nail polish, pedicures, and gel removal – as well as aesthetic procedures, including waxings, facials, spray tanning, and make-up applications.
Although she is constantly looking forward to what she can do next, Mason will take some time in February to reflect on how far she has come.
“It is hard to believe we’ll be celebrating five years,” she said. “When I step back and look at it, we’ve grown this organically from the ground up. I have to give some credit to myself for growing it this far, but we’ve also gotten a load of support from the community, our clients, EforAll, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and Mashpee Commons. It’s definitely been a group effort which has been really, really cool.”
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