After the fall of Roe c. Wade, big companies from JP Morgan to Meta to Disney and Netflix have been quick to align their messaging with the national zeitgeist, which largely rejects the Supreme Court’s unpopular ruling.
But in the niche nail artist community, a culture war is raging after a direct-to-consumer nail art company – which amassed a faithful following on social networks for its colored polishes and nail art tools – announced that it would remain “neutral” on the decision. In the fan reaction that followed, it became clear that a political arena exists not only for billion-dollar corporations, but also for small businesses, which find it harder to stay on the sidelines when their consumers join the fray.
The beleaguered company is Maniology, a Honolulu, Hawaii-based nail care service that ships products (polish, manicure tools, and even subscription boxes) across the country. Earlier this week, he reportedly posted – then deleted – a notice on Facebook saying he wasn’t going to take sides on Roe v. Wade, out of respect for the “different feelings” of his clients. (Maniology did not respond to fast companyrequest for comment.)
“As I write this post, I am presenting the viewpoint of maniology,” company owner Ren Wu wrote in the now-deleted but widely circulated post. “Those of you who love maniology don’t have to agree with someone else’s personal social belief system. . . Whatever your social beliefs, we hope to have a place for you.
But that post has drawn the ire of a hyper-online nail artist community, which is producing a vibrant stream of glittery, holographic and rhinestone-studded eye candy on social media. On Instagram, a user called ruby_on_nails canceled a partnership with Maniology and argued that the brand benefits from ideals of feminism, diversity and equality (one of her recent posts celebrates Pride Month by featuring her Rainbow Manicure Stamp Kit ) without actually supporting these causes. Another user, who is one of the brand ambassadors, urged Maniology to “take a stand because it matters. . . We’re watching.” Other users canceled subscriptions, and one started compiling a list of Maniology competitors for a boycott.
The reviews were so overwhelming that Maniology first shut down its comments section on Facebook for a day, along with a joke about taking a break for a “new manicure”, which upset some customers even more. then posted a reply in the turmoil of Tuesday.
“First of all, I want to express my empathy and sincere apologies to Maniology fans and associates who find my original community post insensitive or hurtful,” Wu wrote. “I believe it is important to clarify the meaning of my previous statement… With my limited knowledge of the Roe vs. Wade case, my personal position is in favor of a woman’s right to choose. my personal position to a free entity, in this case maniology. It belongs to our employees and to all those who simply love creativity and find nail art as a means of self-expression. This inclusivity is a core value.
Despite Maniology’s stated adherence to inclusiveness – and the high ideal of art that transcends differences and unifies the human experience – it is clear that the company’s attempt to avoid alienating customers by alienated many. And his apologies seem to have done little to fix the damage.
In its corner of the internet, the nail art world seems to be signaling the need for a brand new playbook. In this moment of political division, brand margins are shrinking.