Nail salon Glosslab — backed by Olivia Culpo, ex-Tinder CEO Sean Rad, Chainsmokers — accused of stiffing landlords, closing stores

Posh nail salon Glosslab – whose investors include former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, ex-Tinder CEO Sean Rad and The Chainsmokers — is closing stores and skipping rent at multiple locations as an aggressive expansion plan has run into trouble, The Post has learned.

Last year, founder Rachel Glass — a former hedge-fund executive who started the chain in 2018, opening two salons in the Flatiron District and West Village — told Fox Business the company had raised “roughly $20 million” and opened 21 locations across Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington, DC.

A few months later in May 2023, Glass said in an interview on LinkedIn that she was aiming for 40 salons as she looked to disrupt a niche dominated by mom-and-pops. Her membership-based business model and water-free, hygiene-focused treatments have been widely covered in the fashion press, including Elle, InStyle and The Post.

But this week, a scan of the company’s website shows that there are just 14 locations in the New York City metro area, Miami and Dallas, with another six listed as “coming soon.” 

Rachel Glass founded Glosslab in 2018 in NYC and has since expanded to Florida and Texas. GlossLab

Meanwhile, a retail space at 401 Third Ave. in Manhattan’s upscale Murray Hill neighborhood displayed a public notice from its landlord alleging that Glosslab owes it $146,542 in back rent. The landlord, the Olnick Organization, demanded that Glosslab “surrender” the premises and pay up by March 21. 

Glosslab had been working on the space but had never moved in and recently had stopped renovations, according to tenants who live in the residential building above the retail space.

The Olnick Organization didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

A few blocks across town at 49-51 W. 23rd St. in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood, another landlord sued the Glosslab last month, alleging that it is owed $114,893 for rent and fees since Glass signed a lease for a second floor space on June 29, according to a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court. Glosslab vacated the premises on Feb. 1, according to the complaint.

Former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo is an investor in Glosslab. Getty Images for Verizon

In Connecticut, a landlord sued in October to evict Glosslab from the Darien Commons shopping center for failing to pay its rent for several months last year, listing Glass as the tenant, according to court documents. 

A month later, Glosslab’s Hoboken, NJ location sent an email to clients saying it was closed “for the foreseeable future,” according to a report by Hoboken Girl.

“As we shift our focus towards franchising, we have decided this is the best course of action for our business,” Glosslab told its Hoboken customers.

Glass confirmed in an email to The Post that the Darien and Murray Hill locations had never opened.

Some of the Glosslab locations, meanwhile, are operated by franchisees, including a salon in Closter, NJ which opened in December, an employee told The Post.

“We are currently moving to a franchise model and working with landlords to that effect,” Glass wrote in an emailed response to an initial question about the 401 Third Ave. location in New York.

Glosslab customers pay monthly membership fees in exchange for an unlimited number of manicures and pedicures. GlossLab

Glass didn’t respond to subsequent queries from The Post.

A real estate executive with knowledge of the situation who did not want to be identified said it appeared that Glosslab “ran out of working capital.”

“You don’t mess around with these New York landlords,” the real estate executive added. “They will have you in court in a minute.”

Another source with knowledge of Glosslab’s troubles said the company has had difficulty hiring licensed nail technicians. New York state law requires a 250-hour approved course and successful completion of both a written and practical exam. 

“Some of these places would open, but had trouble staffing them,” the source said.

The salons do not use water during their treatments. Instagram/GlossLab

Last year, Glosslab announced that Joshua Coba co-founder of European Wax Center — a nearly $1 billion publicly held company with 1,000 locations — secured the franchise rights for Glosslab in South Florida and that Coba is “overseeing” Glosslab’s franchise development nationwide.

A spokesperson for European Wax Center said the company is not affiliated with Glosslab.

While Glosslab has previously touted its “thousands of members,” customers have complained about the difficulty of canceling a Glosslab membership.

The sleek salons offer memberships for about $135 per month for unlimited manicures and pedicures.

Alex Pall and Drew Taggart of the Chainsmokers band are investors of Glosslab. WireImage
A scan of the company’s website shows that there are just 14 locations in the New York City metro area, Miami and Dallas, with another six listed as “coming soon.”  GlossLab

“At this point I feel like the Founding Membership is a predatory pricing practice designed to make customers spend money without getting a product in return,” wrote one customer on the Better Business Bureau website.

Glosslab has likewise drawn negative reviews from customers on Yelp, with 97 of 241 clients giving it one star out of five.

“You’re treated like cattle – get ’em in, get ’em out in 30-45 min SHARP,” one customer wrote.

“I got gel three days ago and three nails are already breaking and the polish of four nails is peeling,” another fumed.

Lil Yachty is an investor in the nail salon chain. Getty Images

Glass, 43, raised over $3 million in December 2020 from investors including Tinder co-founder Rad and MJ Bas, co-founder of LAB Capital Advisors.

Five months later, she raised another $7 million from NFL great Mark Sanchez, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Michael Dubin, the founder of Dollar Shave Club; and Alex Pall and Drew Taggart of the electronic music duo The Chainsmokers, according to Fox Business.

In addition to Culpo, Glosslab’s other celebrity investors include singer Keke Palmer and rapper Lil Yachty

“For years I had talked about recreating the nail space, and after I left the hedge fund world, started researching the industry and even attending nail technician school, in an effort to get under the hood of the business from all sides,” Glass told LinkedIn.

“I talked to as many people as I could and spent a great deal of time researching the industry in general,” she added.

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