Pedicures for Men and the Spartanburg Mom Who Made It Happen (in 7 Months)
Shana Soberanis responded to 'a very harsh year' with a novel idea and big plans for the near future.
When Shana Soberanis got to mid-September last year, her life was as upside down as it was likely to get. She’d once worked in IT. Now she was unemployed and having zero luck finding a new job.
She lost her sister in March and she was suddenly the mom of her sister’s three kids. She already had two of her own.
In August, her whole house, including the kids and her 73-year-old mom, contracted COVID. A month later, her mom died from the virus.
Soberanis was on her own, in charge of five people ranging from ages 5 to 19, out of work, and depleting her savings.
Was she going to roll over and give up? Or dive in with everything she had to follow an idea she’d chased up until a month before her whole life flipped over?
Wouldn’t be much of a story if she’d given up, now, would it?
See, in December of 2019, Soberanis was giving a guy friend a pedicure that was so good, he told her she should go to school and get her license. She gave it some real thought and decided that was exactly what she’d do. By February of 2020, she’d started investing in school and was all set to go.
But the next six months set her far back. School had to be put on hold. She was depressed, drinking bourbon tea for breakfast every morning.
But there was the matter of those five kids with no one else to look out for them – not to mention the fact that Soberanis is just not the type to sit idly by and let the world consume her. She had a dream and a $6,000 debt to the school she had wanted to attend.
So starting in October 2020, Soberanis hit school hard. Like, Mike Tyson hard. She got everything – and I mean everything – done that she needed to get done to start her business. That’s the license to practice; the master pedicurist’s license; a medical pedicurist’s license (oh yes, Shana Soberanis knows feet like you don’t know feet); the location; the décor; the business license; the pedicure chairs; the gigantic television; the pool table ….
And she did that all by April, when she opened The Man Cave in a small strip mall on Pine Street in Spartanburg. By May, she had a booking nearly every day because despite what you might think about guys not wanting pedicures, guys apparently really want pedicures – more for hygiene and foot health than for fashion, but yes, they want pedicures.
The Man Cave, as might be obvious from the name, caters only to men. It’s less an effort to find a unique hook, though, and more about the fact that Soberanis likes feet and prefers to work with men. They’re easier to deal with – not as fussy as women when it comes to nail care, she says.
For the moment, The Man Cave is only offering pedicures in the Jade Room (which is where the 86-inch TV is). The main receiving room is appropriately cavely with black-painted walls and sharp white trim, comfy leather chairs, cold drinks, and yes, the pool table.
The Jade Room is bright and relaxing, if perhaps a little more mint than jade. But there are two other rooms,, both under construction. One will be the Velvet Room, with an old-fashioned barber shop; the other will be a massage room (with a cheeky nickname I’ll let you ask Soberanis to tell you).
Soberanis hopes to have the massage service ready to roll by Father’s Day. She says the therapist will be the same one who treats her, now that she spends large parts of her day working on men’s feet and toes.
What she offers, she says, is a space where men don’t have to feel self-conscious. Clients have told her that they’ve wanted pedicures for a long time, but they’re not comfortable sitting among a group of women in a get-in-get-out salon with a whole row of chairs. The Man Cave takes one appointment at a time, usually worth about an hour-and-a-half, and also worth about $75.
For Soberanis, working on feet is not a strange thing at all, even though she’s been told more than once by friends that she’s weird for liking feet.
But she does. She likes feet and she likes shoes. She just doesn’t recommend you wear them while getting a pedicure.