|Posted on November 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM|
Article in the NY Times
Manhattan events planner Andrea Correale gestures to her personal assistant to type up notes on her iPad as their clients discuss the options for a venue for an upcoming book launch.
“I think the Players Club in Gramercy or Midtown Loft would be perfect,” suggests Correale. “Let’s check their availability.”
Then, in the next breath, she asks: “How are you ladies enjoying your paraffin treatments?”
Forget salmon sandwiches in the boardroom, artichoke salads at Cipriani or afternoon tea at The Plaza: Correale, the president of Elegant Affairs, which has offices in Midtown and Long Cove, Long Island, is conducting a key business meeting over the foot basins at Tenoverten, a luxury nail salon inside Le Parker Meridien hotel.
Powwowing over polish with her are health and wellness advisor Donna Martini, author of the new self-help guide “The Ten Commandments of Divorce,” and Martini’s PR partner Karin Caro, from Blu Chip Marketing.
“Women are experts at multi-tasking so there’s no reason we can’t do business while we’re being pampered,” says Correale, who conducts her toe-centric meetings around twice a month. “Everyone leads such busy lives these days and it’s a great way to get work done and have a beauty service at the same time.”
In an increasingly popular trend, female executives in New York City are hosting so-called “power pedicures” — 30 to 50-minute brainstorming sessions which combine industry talk with cuticle care, callus removal and numerous coatings of nail lacquer.
You could call it the more feminine — and far less tedious — version of golf.
“We blocked out the time and reserved our own little area where there are four chairs in a row,” explains Correale, who picked up the $35 per person tab for the early-evening session. “It’s really private and we had a very productive discussion during the treatments.
“It’s much less formal than a regular meeting and you get to bond with each other because it’s so fun.”
Donna Perillo, owner of Sweet Lily Spa, a boutique nail salon in Tribeca, has noticed a “substantial” rise in the number of clients conducting business meetings over pedicures.
Her staff sometimes serves complimentary glasses of wine to lighten the mood even further.
“We have a lot of luxury magazines and advertizing agencies based in our neighborhood, and ad reps often bring in their clients to conduct business,” she says. “I mean, how many lunches can you eat? They get boring after a while.
“But what woman doesn’t like a pedicure?”
She and her staff have witnessed dozens of deals being signed, sealed and delivered as their Manolo Blahnik-wearing customers soak their dogs in their tubs.
“One of my regular clients is responsible for selling advertizing space on billboards in Times Square,” says Perillo, who has yet to see the trend take off among men. “I think the salon is one of her favorite places to do business because she brings her associates with her all the time.”
Other fans of the pedicure powwow include Renee Schmidt, 29, founder and CEO of SheSquad, a social media agency employed by Fortune 1000 companies including leading banks and management consultants.
She prefers the more relaxed atmosphere during pedicure meetings and the fact they involve a rare component in modern day business dealings — face-to-face contact.
“When you’re doing a conference call, you don’t really know if the other person is paying attention, whether they’re on their keyboard or fiddling with their iPhone” laughs Schmidt, who nonetheless favors pedicures over manicures because it leaves your hands free to take phone calls or send e-mails.
“But here you are sitting next to each other in a nail salon, talking and interacting.
“You have each other’s undivided attention. It’s a good thing for building up trust.”
Entrepreneur Ruth Shelling, publisher of Pedicure.com, believes the trend has crossed the Pacific from her native Australia.
“Over there it’s already the networking equivalent of golf,” she says. “People are time-poor and long lunches have become a thing of the past, especially since a lot of women in business these days are on special diets.
“Pedicures are the answer because, as ambassadors of our brands, we all want to look well-groomed.
“It’s no different to taking a client for lunch. It’s actually more cost-effective in this economy.”
And while businessmen in Sydney, Australia, have been known to conduct meetings over pedicures — “they pass on the polish,” she says, with a laugh — Shelling has yet to see that trend hit Manhattan.
Correale, for one, has yet to invite any male clients along to the nail salon.
“I’m not prejudiced against men who might want a pedicure, but there’s something very girly and bonding about having one with another woman or a group of women,” says the event planner. “It would feel a bit inappropriate to take off your shoes and socks and hitch up your skirt in a pedicure chair in front of a guy.”
As for unscrupulous nail technicians who might be tempted to commit industrial espionage after eavesdropping on company secrets, Shelling isn’t worried.
“Perhaps they’ll agree to sign non-disclosure agreements,” she laughs.