How David DiLorenzo Is Reinventing the Nail Business – Worth

David DiLorenzo’s family has been in the beauty industry for three generations. His grandfather was a barber, and his parents owned salons and a distribution company. DiLorenzo worked at the salons in his 20s, until leaving to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities, like managing restaurants, while attending college. “Shortly after, I went into the restaurant business and looked at my father and said, ‘Look dad, I want to work with you, why don’t we invent this nail salon and see if the industry needs it and [if we can make] it global,’” DiLorenzo told Worth.

The project started as a joint venture between DiLorenzo (pictured right) and his father, who was a veteran in the space and an unconventional business coach. His father taught him how to win in business at a young age. “One day when I was a kid, my father took me into the ocean, and he said, ‘You want to be in business?’ He threw me off the boat and had me swim back to shore,” DiLorenzo explained. “I asked to get back on the boat, and he said, ‘There’s no boat to grab on to. You have to make this or you’re going to die. It’s sink or swim.’” His father’s teaching methods were a little unorthodox, but DiLorenzo learned a valuable lesson that day about tenacity and survival. It’s a lesson that stuck with him for life and lends to his strong work ethic and persistence. It’s the reason DiLorenzo was able to endure a rocky start with his business, subsiding on the McDonald’s dollar menu while he was going broke spending money for client dinners. “I started the company in 2012, and I was broke until 2016,” he said. “I was going out and taking potential clients to dinner. At dinner, I’d eat a salad, pay for their dinner and go broke. I could afford to eat McDonald’s once a day.”
Eventually, DiLorenzo’s business began to grow legs. “We started with patenting and developing what is now known as a ‘Source Capture System’ to help alleviate the odor and nail dust for the nail technician and clients’ benefits,” he said. “We started off exhibiting at trade shows, marketing in magazines, door-to-door sales and through traditional distribution channels.”

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Source Capture System was the springboard that launched Valentino Beauty Pure into the ranks of big brands like L’Oréal and Essie. It opened the door for collaborative campaigns with recognizable brands, which further propelled Valentino Beauty’s success. “We are also in L’Oréal’s headquarters, at Essie’s training facility/salon in New York City,” DiLorenzo said. “We also had the pleasure of being placed in OPI’s head training facility located in Southern California. That was an extreme honor for us, being present in the business for only a few years and getting to work side-by-side with the largest companies in the industry. This gave me incredible insight on the market.”
As a millennial who grew up in the digital age, DiLorenzo has largely focused his marketing campaigns on delivering messages through social media channels. His Instagram account has 400,000 followers and his YouTube channel is becoming an authority in the beauty space. “Social media, most specifically Instagram, has allowed me to have direct contact with the end user—the nail technician and the clients. I have always believed in guerrilla marketing, and this is guerrilla marketing on steroids. We are in a contact sport; the more consumers you speak to, the better chances you have at bat. I personally feel that establishing relations is key to our success, as I have stayed up until 4 a.m. for the past six years after technicians’ normal work hours,” DiLorenzo explained. “I was the first adopter at [my] company on Instagram. I walked into a trade show in Long Beach, and this young girl, Kandi Yamz on Instagram, came running up to me and said, ‘David, oh my God.’ She said, ‘You’re in my business plan.’ She told me about how everyone wants this machine that I created, and someone whispered in my ear that she’s Twitter famous. I had no idea what Twitter was; someone said get on Instagram that day. So, I got on, saw her salon and realized I could reach out to other Instagram influencers.”
Part of what makes the Valentino Beauty brand so eclectic is DiLorenzo’s passion for traveling and scouting ideas from other countries. “Traveling around the country is extremely important to me, which enables me to have my finger on the pulse; I like to have my ear to the ground. Traveling allows me to enter a city where my team and I are hosting education seminars. First, I get to meet the students face-to-face and get to learn the different trends that are popular in each state as students come from different towns and cities,” DiLorenzo said. “What’s popular in New York may not necessarily be popular in Kansas. This gives me an unbelievable advantage for myself to put different marketing strategies in place. This allows me to know what technicians want out of our brand in different markets across the country. Additionally, I always plan an extra two days to visit local salons that we service and network with the salon owners and individual technicians; we go as far as posting them on our social media page to making quick YouTube videos of their salons to give them more exposure and recognition within their area. The plan is that we all win.”

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DiLorenzo shared some insights on growing a beauty company in a rapidly changing space: “With the way the world is going, we are heading into a possible recession. With that being said, we have a five-year vision, which was to select key areas across the country and to open up Valentino Beauty Pure showrooms and advanced training facilities. The recession gives us an incredible edge to acquire commercial properties. I believe in controlled growth and providing opportunities; these locations are going to be offered to our educators with the first right.”
“A nail technician is a very labor-intensive job that does not offer a 401(k) or retirement plan; once your body cannot handle the physical labor, you are left with very limited options,” he continued. “This allows me to empower and present Valentino Beauty Pure team members an incredible opportunity to become an exclusive distributor with an advanced education facility, possibly leading into a full cosmetology school where they can issue licenses to new nail technicians entering the industry, which will be better than traditional benefits at most companies.”
DiLorenzo also had some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in the beauty/salon space. “The stigma of becoming a nail technician for the last 30 years was always looked at as a ‘hobby.’ I have made it my personal mission, coming from the hair side, to change the stigma of the nail industry. A nail technician can make upwards of six figures, and I feel it is our duty to give them the credit they deserve. The first bit of advice I would give is to put the work in starting at the bottom; if you build a house on a shaky foundation, the house will collapse. I know that we are in an instant gratification economy; however, this is a craft and takes years to perfect.”
“First, you need to learn to perform the best services you possibly can; second, you need to become self-aware with yourself and know if you are meant to be a salon owner, booth renter or work in a salon,” DiLorenzo added. “Not everyone is meant to be self-employed. If you are looking into opening your own location, whether it be a salon or salon suite, decide on the demographics of the customer base you are looking to serve. If you want high-end clientele, I suggest you place the salon as close as possible to a Starbucks, for example. I am going to leave it at this: Look at the numbers you must charge accordingly based on your rent. A successful business starts with the negotiation of a lease. This can make or break you, so know your numbers.”
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