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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ManiMe, a startup that sells stick-on gel nails, tells Axios that it has raised $6 million in venture capital funding led by Canaan Partners and Trinity Ventures.

Why it matters: Since the pandemic forced many beauty salons to close, manicure lovers have resorted to do-it-yourself and at-home alternatives.

  • ManiMe sells ready-to-wear stickers that are made of gel similar to that used for nail polish.
  • At $15-$25 a piece, the sets are laser-cut to fit the customer’s nail shapes based on photos uploaded when ordering online.

The big picture: "For many women, [a manicure is] a sign of confidence and feeling put together," co-founder David Miro Llopis tells Axios of the popularity of nail care products.

  • Since the pandemic started, ManiMe monthly sales have grown tenfold, according to co-founder and CEO Jooyeon Song, with more customers now purchasing additional products like cuticle oil pens to recreate a full nail care routine at home. About 40% of ManiMe's customer repurchase.
  • In recent years, some have noted that nail care has replaced lipstick as the affordable luxury consumers turn to during recessions (known as the "Lipstick Index," coined by Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder in 2001).

The company is also hoping to capitalize on another trend: the rise of nail artists.

  • Thanks to social media and trendsetting celebrities touting their nail artists' work, a growing number of them are becoming influencers themselves.
  • During the pandemic, some have started to sell hand-painted sets of press-on nails via sites like Etsy and Instagram.
  • ManiMe has already partnered with 11 artists, with whom it splits sales revenue from their designs, and plans to expand the roster.

Editor's note: The story was updated to correct the spelling of Jooyeon Song's name.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

7 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.