I had a same-day mani-pedi ‘delivered’ on-demand to my house during my work day, 10/10 will try again

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera © Provided by Mothership

Let me start this by saying I’m a full-time working mother.

Which, frankly, would automatically preclude the concept of being able to find time to get a manicure-pedicure done, unless my full-time job was perhaps a) a model, b) an influencer, or c) a model-influencer.

Until one day my colleague told me about a company that does on-demand home services that you can order, even on the same day.

I was sceptical but cautiously optimistic — especially bearing in mind that the only mani-pedi credits I have from six years ago are banked with a salon in Westgate, no less (I live in a slightly more central part of the island — basically, it’ll likely close down before I make it back there to use my credits up).

The idea of it sounded promising: download an app, book a service and they’ll show up at your doorstep to get it done.

So that’s what I did —

How it works: A step-by-step

I downloaded the app — named Urban Company — turned on notifications (qualifier: this probably isn’t completely necessary to use their services, but I allowed them because I’m absent-minded and will surely forget if I don’t), entered contact details and my address (basically wherever I want the services to be done or “sent” to), and I’m brought to a screen with a selection of services ranging from aircon servicing to women’s facials and hair services (why yes indeed).

What I was going for, though, was the mani-pedi. So off I went:

graphical user interface, application © Provided by Mothership

Being a mum, I can’t afford to be gentle or dainty with my fingers, so nails must be short, clean and hardy at all times. So gelish for both it is.

I opted for classic as a small treat for myself — it would take longer, but since I’m doing this, might as well? I hadn’t put lotion on my hands or on my feet in quite a while.

graphical user interface, application © Provided by Mothership

Add to cart, and I’m given the options to add on services like removing existing gelish (haha what, a previous manicure recent enough to require removal?) for a dollar, extending my massage and more, and pick nail colour ranges.

diagram © Provided by Mothership

Next step: choose your desired date and time.

I booked for the next day so I had the full day’s slots at my disposal, but if I wanted service on the same day, that is available with roughly three hours’ notice (with the latest start time between 8 and 8:30pm).

Added perk: There doesn’t seem to be any additional charge for weekends, public holidays, any period before a festive season or any particular time of day. Cool.

So payment! There is the option of paying by PayPal or a credit card. I went with PayPal for convenience.

Once everything’s done, my booking is saved and confirmed in the “Bookings” tab of the app:

graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message © Provided by Mothership

And yes, I was assigned a therapist! In a decently speedy fashion too — Urban Company says as long as a time slot is available for booking, there will always be an available professional to attend to the job, hence allowing instant confirmation of bookings.

Where I confirm that this is not a scam

So the next day (April 6) rolled round and at 1:23pm, Teresa Miranda appeared at my door with three heavy-looking bags (two of which were on castor wheels).

a man holding a suitcase © Provided by Mothership

A closer look at her manicure-pedicure-making universe:

a bag of luggage © Provided by Mothership

Pretty nifty, considering the fact that one of the bags contained all the nail colours, coats, lotions, sprays and creams, and another was a foldable bathtub (for foot soaks!) — although I ended up having her use one of my basins to reduce her hassle, heh.

I had her in quite a tough spot as I was in the middle of my work day (of course) and still on my computer at the dining table, but without a word, she parked herself on the floor beside me, with one of my handy stools, and deftly set up her workstation with clean cloths and mats:

a bag of luggage sitting on top of a table © Provided by Mothership

So this way, Teresa worked, and so did I (when she wasn’t busy with one of my hands). And we also had a nice conversation to boot, about her life and how all this works too.

Her service was impeccable, by the way — when it started raining, she ran to help me shut the kitchen windows because I couldn’t with my hands, and when I mentioned to her that I was nursing a phlegmy cough, she threw in a back massage with essential oils I happened to have handy.

Needless to say, the service itself was great — I’m no mani-pedi connoisseur myself, but I was very satisfied with how she got rid of all my dead skin (man, my heels are a real piece of work) and deftly applied coat after coat with an extremely steady hand despite the small space she had to work with.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop: She had a nifty headlight that helped her work. © Provided by Mothership She had a nifty headlight that helped her work.

Spoilt for choice with colours — she correctly identified me as the fickle type so once I picked my colours she kept them so I wouldn’t change my mind haha. © Provided by Mothership Spoilt for choice with colours — she correctly identified me as the fickle type so once I picked my colours she kept them so I wouldn’t change my mind haha.

Crucially, at no point did she try to sell anything to me. It was just nice conversation, professional and polite questions. Peaceful, not stressful, no pressure. All good things.

a person sitting on a suitcase: A jolly good foot massage following a comfy warm soak. Many good things. © Provided by Mothership A jolly good foot massage following a comfy warm soak. Many good things.

a person sitting on a table: The pedicure — managed to squeeze in a bit of work here with my body twisted toward my table haha. © Provided by Mothership The pedicure — managed to squeeze in a bit of work here with my body twisted toward my table haha.

In fact, I enjoyed our time together so much that I got worried she was running late for her next appointment — she had a booking for 4:30pm and only left around then; thankfully there is a half-hour window for her to play with!

© Provided by Mothership

Teresa also passed me a set of the files she used for my job, as well as the toe separators allocated (although she was so experienced she didn’t need them).

An app for the order & delivery of a host of services

Basically, the Urban Company model works kind of like Grab — carefully-selected therapists (actually, this applies to all the service providers who would come to your house through this platform) employed and further trained by Urban Company take on jobs that come through the platform, and the company takes a cut of the fee paid.

Like most freelancers in the gig economy, the therapists don’t get leave or medical benefits, nor do they get to claim their transportation between jobs, but do also have acceptance rates that they are guided by. That said, Urban Company tells me they do receive bigger proportions of earnings than their salon-based counterparts, and also receive bonuses and incentives for good service — amounting to total earnings of some S$4,000 on average per month.

These notwithstanding, though, I came to understand that patronising Urban Company directly supports the livelihood of the therapists I will engage.

Teresa, for instance, is a single mom of five who lives in a rental flat and supports three of her children (two live in the Philippines). She has more than 20 years of experience doing manicures and pedicures.

To be fair, I don’t know if all the therapists Urban Company hires have similar circumstances to Teresa’s, but basically it’s an honest day’s work — not easy either, lugging the heavy bags of equipment for the all-in service — that I personally find to be very convenient for me.

Trying out another service: house cleaning

So I was also invited to try a second service under the app: house cleaning.

Here’s how the booking process works:

  1. Pick the service.
  2. Acknowledge things.
  3. Declare if you have dogs in your house.
  4. Declare if you have cats in your house. (I certainly did)
  5. Decide if you want a one-time or recurring booking.
  6. Review your details and confirm your order.
  7. Pick your date and time.
  8. And make payment.
  9. Tada! After a while you’ll see a professional assigned to your cleaning job.

You can contact each other via call or text to confirm things.

graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message © Provided by Mothership

And you can also view the professional’s reviews already! From other people whose houses she has cleaned so far:

graphical user interface, application © Provided by Mothership

Not bad.

So Thursday came round and so did Stacy, right on time.

a person standing in a room © Provided by Mothership

This is unfortunately the only picture I remembered to take of her, offloading her luggage to start work, but in no way is this potato photograph representative of the standards of her service.

From that luggage, out came items like clean towels, cloths and even a long pole with a cleaning implement attached to its end, as well as a suite of professional-grade cleaning chemicals and disinfectants normal homes wouldn’t otherwise have.

I was pretty preoccupied with work that afternoon so I didn’t really have the time to see what she was doing, but I saw her going at the cobwebs at my ceiling corners (the main task I sought her help with was de-dusting my house — an extra-tricky task when you have the insane combination of multiple cats [i.e. fur everywhere all day err’day] and a baby [i.e. toys and bulky baby items all over the floor and stacked, making it tough to move things around to clean corners]) so I was pretty confident she was being meticulous and thorough.

And even though I didn’t ask her to, she vacuumed and mopped our floor too.

So in terms of cleaning, you’re likely to quite easily find someone from a smaller agency at a cheaper rate (e.g. S$20 or so cheaper), but I must say the high volume of good reviews for Stacy, and I reckon Urban Company’s other cleaners, suggest you can be assured of good quality and good work. You can also book the same cleaner if you like their work on a regular basis — a definite plus so you don’t have to keep briefing different people, and you also have certainty in terms of the quality you get from the cleaning done.

In conclusion…

Do I recommend Urban Company?

I would say yes, if you are a busy working-from-home kind of person whose time is money, the latter of which you have a little more of.

The suite of services available is pretty impressive:

table: I mean, you can book a fitness trainer to come to your place dude. Whattt. © Provided by Mothership I mean, you can book a fitness trainer to come to your place dude. Whattt.

And the ratings published quite transparently right there in their app as you book the service you want will give you a good idea of what you’re in for.

In booking my two services, I scoured the comments quite a bit, and I saw both good and bad, so that transparency to me was a plus-one in their favour too.

I am personally and honestly quite happy to know that something like this exists as well — if it gets big, it’ll really change how people engage this entire range of services (which could certainly expand even further) in future.

Sounds good to you? You can download the app here.

And as a reward for making it all the way here, Urban Company’s got a 10 per cent off code for first-time users on the app, capped at S$5, valid between May 4 and 18.

Here’s how to apply it:

  1. Download the Urban Company app.
  2. Sign up for an account and select the home service of your choice.
  3. Enter code "UC10MOTHERSHIP" in the offers and promo code section for 10 per cent off your first booking.

This article sponsored by Urban Company gave its writer an excuse to enjoy a mani-pedi during her work hours… while of course working very hard during those hours.

Top photos by Jeanette Tan

I had a same-day mani-pedi ‘delivered’ on-demand to my house during my work day, 10/10 will try again