ELEVEN years ago, Catherine Kastner Ilacad was a naïve 22-year old with a dream.
With zero business experience, Catherine—Cat to friends—took on the biggest challenge of her life and devoted all her energies in a start-up nail salon and spa business she called POSH nails. And with her businessman-father as mentor, Cat realized her dream making Posh Nails one of the most successful enterprises in 2013. Well, it surely pays to be the daughter of OctoArts big boss Orly Ilacad whose show business and entertainment connections Cat used to the hilt. With endorsements from celebrities like Anne Curtis, Rica Peralejo, and Valerie Concepcion, Cat transformed the image of the lowly nail salon and foot spa into a venue of fabulous bursting colors. The hottest celebrity venue for grooming and pampering.
“In show business, we all know how important it is to always put your best foot forward. So these celebrities might as well make sure that the foot they’re going to put forward should look fabulous,” Cat said shortly after opening her first salon. With the conception of her nail spa business, she follows the footsteps of her dad, film producer Orly Ilacad. Considered as a Philippine pioneer in the natural nail care industry, Posh nails opened its first shop in Greenhills in 2002—introducing a laid back, unique and modern setup to spa addicts young and old alike.
The interior of the salon is like a girl’s bedroom painted in pink, lilac and white complete with comfortable couches, soft pillows and footrests. The place is also adorned with beaded curtains to incorporate a more feminine touch while soft R&B and chillout music plays in the background. “POSH nails is who I am, my heart and soul,” says Cat, who compares POSH to the Filipino home—warm and comfortable where all visitors are welcome and cared for,” Cat declared.
Instead of the bulky recliners, Posh Nails uses couches as seats for its customers. This way, says Cat, the customers would feel more at ease and comfortable. POSH Nails is also the first in the Philippines to offer themed manicures and pedicures such as Green Tea, Coffee, Chocolate lovers, Margarita, Cremee Brulee and Citrus. Themed manicures and pedicures differ for each month to keep clients excited and up to date with nail salon services all across the globe. POSH nails also offers cocktail drinks, coffee, tea, hot cocoa along with the themed service. As an industry pioneer, Cat also keeps herself abreast with the latest business trends, making it a point to religiously attend the international conference of nail experts in the US.
“Through this conference, I get to keep myself abreast with the latest in nail-care—the technology, the new discoveries,” says Cat.
Eleven years and 25 franchise branches later, Cat remains as hands-on since Day One, “Ako pa rin hanggang ngayon ang nag-ta-tackle ng lotions, scrubs, ‘yung allotment for all franchisees sa head office. Ako ‘yun,” Cat said in an interview shortly after receiving the 2013 Agora Award for Medium Scale Enterprise. “POSH is something very dear to me…parang anak, di ba? Hindi mo pabayaan kasi alam mong importante yun sa ‘yo.”
Accepting the Agora award, Cat gave the highest honor to father Orly who served as her untiring business mentor. While other people pay for business advice, she had a built-in business adviser. “Lagi kong joke, ang ulam naming lagi ay POSH nails kapag lunch. Everyday naming pinaguusapan ang POSH, walang mintis,” Cat said. Her father helped her put up part of her business capital and the next decade was like a daily business meeting. Cat said her father never missed a beat asking her about every aspect of the business.
“Hindi kaya ang isang oras para ikwento lahat ng tinuro niya sa akin,”she admits.
Cat admits that her biggest advantage was with her father’s connections. “Ang ganda ng connections niya sa tao. Wala siyang kagalit. He taught me how to treat my staff and my people.” Cat says the success of Posh nails is proof that no idea is crazy or impossible. What really matters is the passion for your work and your compassion for the people you work and do business with. And for a service-oriented business like POSH nails, providing quality service is key to success. “Because if you have the best service, pupuntahan at pupuntahan ka ng tao kahit malayo ka pa.”
Yes, mistakes will be made along the way, Cat says. But a good entrepreneur must quickly learn from his or her errors. “Sinasabi ko palagi, okay lang naman magkamali as long as you learn from it and you stand up and do better. Yes, money is important, profit is important, but ‘wag natin kakalimutan that we are here to give the people the best service possible.”
From the accomplished to the aspiring, Cat tells start-up entrepreneurs to go for their dream. “Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says you can’t. Madaming small, crazy ideas that are out there and became successful. Take the risk. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is part of living. And if you really want to live, you have to go after your dreams and stand up again if you fail.”