Part 1/3: Female Entrepreneurs doing well and doing good

Cheryl and Germaine Monteiro, The Nail Social

A nail salon that equips marginalised women with employability skills, a cake shop that helps feed hungry children, and an online shop which provides a platform for women from third world countries to sell handmade items. We highlight the Singaporean, female entrepreneurs behind these purpose-driven, profit-making enterprises. Here’s part one of three of this feature:


Cheryl Ou and Germaine Monteiro, The Nail Social  


What made you want to start The Nail Social
Germaine: My first job some 10 years ago was as a trainee manicurist at a lifestyle salon that was run by my current partner, Cheryl. She taught me everything I know about nails, and I worked with her for a good 6 years until I got married and moved to USA with my husband. I loved the concept of a lifestyle nail salon and dreamed about opening my own salon one day, but never really got the guts to take the next step. A month after I moved back to Singapore, Cheryl contacted me, told me her idea of starting up a salon again and invited me to join her. She wanted to start a business that was not just focused on profits. She wanted to use our skills to help other women who could not find a job and were struggling financially. She cited ex-convicts and single mothers as examples, and that really struck a chord with me as I grew up in a single-parent household and saw first hand the challenges my mother faced to raise me and my siblings. We spent the next couple of months planning, and finally opened The Nail Social in January last year!

How does The Nail Social help local underprivileged women?

We run a vocational training & employment programme with several family services centres and social service agencies in Singapore, and our main aim is to provide women with an interest in the beauty industry with an opportunity to learn a professional skill that could increase their chances of gaining employment. The women go through a professional manicurist course at an accredited nail academy, and this means that the certificate that they receive after passing their exams is fully recognised by MOE and other advanced learning institutions. We sponsor the full course fees and provide all materials for them to learn and practice, and mentor them throughout their learning and employment journey.

How many women has your company helped?
Since January last year, we have accepted 10 women into the programme. Although we have had a few dropouts, I hope that whatever skills they have learnt with us will benefit them in future.

How do you get in touch with these women who need help?
We are constantly in touch with social workers at several family services centres and social service agencies in Singapore, and they help us to reach out to the underprivileged women under their care and refer them to us if they are suitable.

What do you want people know about running a social enterprise?
Most people associate us with being a charity, but we are actually a for-profit business with primarily social objectives. While pursuing our social mission is important, it is also just as important for us to implement effective business strategies so as to remain sustainable, as unlike charities, we do not rely on donations.

Social enterprises do not want to be recognised for only their social mission. While we are proud of our social impact, we do not want customers to patronise us solely to support our cause as that is not sustainable. We would like to be known for our unique service offerings, excellent skills and great customer service, as these are the factors that make us a viable business.

Social entrepreneurs are more than just business owners and employers, most times we also have to be mentors, counsellors, confidants, therapists and shrinks all rolled into one! Due to the background of the beneficiaries we work with, we try to be as involved in their lives as possible and this means we constantly have to take on different roles.

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The Nail Social is located at  42A Haji Lane, Singapore 189235
Special promo for LadyBoss readers:
Complimentary Quickie Manicure with purchase of a Signature Pedicure
– Valid for first time customers only
– Not valid on weekends, public holidays and festive block out dates
– Not valid in conjunction with other promos, discounts or vouchers
– By appointment only. Please quote ‘LADYBOSS’ when making an appointment
– Valid till 30th June 2016
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