Black Biz Month Feature: Meet Darnika Platt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darnika Platt.

What inspired your interest in the male spa experience and how did you get your start? 

I’ve always loved pampering myself. I’m that girl who goes to spas, nail salons, basically anything that involves self-care. On several occasions, I noticed men frequenting the same places as me. They would get massages, manicures, pedicures, and esthetician services. I’ve even seen men in hair salons to get their haircut. Seeing that made me realize that guys liked being pampered and taking care of themselves also, especially within recent years. But oftentimes, to get the same services that women enjoy, men who want them have to go into spaces curated for women. Think about it, most nail salons are for women. And even worse men who just want a simple manicure or pedicure have to go into salons where they smell nail polish and sometimes get stares from women. 

I wondered why there weren’t more places that catered specifically for men, the men who want more than just a haircut or a clean shave. I started talking to the men who I would find in the places I went and learned what they liked and what they wanted more of. That was my start. The more I talked to the men, the more research I did. I studied them and created a plan to make a space that would be made specifically for them.

That’s how ManCave Atlanta was created. It’s a space that provides services curated for men, but also the decor and atmosphere gives an upscale masculine feel, but more polished which is my woman’s touch. 

Tell our readers about what you do and the services you provide.

ManCave Atlanta provides manicure, pedicure, massage, and esthetician services. We also have a private barbershop. In addition, men who become members have access to our sports and business lounge which allows them to relax or work while enjoying television, music, food, and beverages. We also have a cigar lounge too.

Our spa services are open to both men and women, but everything else that we provide is only available to our members.  The men who are our members get access to exclusive events and opportunities, our concierge services, and much more. While our spa services are our main attraction, we work to provide a lot more to our men.  

The number of men who have discovered the allure of pedicures and massages and embrace self-care has increased. It was once uncommon, but why do you think men are embracing elements of the spa culture now? 

It’s the shift in culture that has occurred. Health and wellness have now become the top priority in society. For example, fitness and clean eating have also become more popular. People are investing more into exercising, eating well, taking care of themselves and being health conscious. They’re also investing more in taking care of their mental health. In today’s world, men are receiving more information about self-care than they’ve ever had which changes their attitudes toward it. Women have been doing these things for years, but men never knew why.

If a woman said they’re getting a manicure or a pedicure, men thought that they were getting their finger and toe nails painted. Now they know that a pedicure improves the look and comfort of their feet. Also, men thought that all this stuff that women did to their faces was just makeup. If you ask a man over ten year ago what it meant to exfoliate, he couldn’t tell you. Now, men know that exfoliate simply means to remove dead skin and reveal healthy skin. They understand the importance of moisture to the skin and hair, beyond just applying lotion.

Somehow men now get the message. Maybe because companies are now making an effort to target them or more information has come out in their favor. Either way, what seemed like a mystery to them now makes sense. They see that they can’t just go to the gym, shower and get a haircut. They understand that grooming, skincare, haircare, fitness, and clean eating all work together to achieve the same result which is a healthy man who looks and feels good.

It used to be that when we thought of a 50-year-old man the image of an elderly man who might have a cane and grey hair came to mind.  However, today we’re seeing a lot more 50-year-olds that look like Jamie Foxx, 51, Shamar Moore, 51, Lenny Kravitz, 57, Tyson Beckford, 50, Blair Underwood, 55, and former President Barack Obama, 58. And guys like these, who take care of themselves, continue to look good into their 60s. 

What challenges have you had to overcome or has it been a smooth road? 

The biggest challenge would have to be the build out of the space. I was very ambitious and learned a lot through that process. It’s a lot dealing with contractors and the city. You have to get approvals, licenses, pass inspections, and deal with setbacks and budget increases. It takes a strong person to be able to handle all of that because it comes at you all at once like a ton of bricks. 

What separates Mancave Atlanta from other male centric venues? 

The reaction that we get when a man steps into our facility is the main thing that sets us apart. Every man, actually every person, who steps into our facility literally drops their jaws. 

What has been your biggest motivator throughout your career to keep going? 

My biggest motivator is my parents. I grew up with parents who were entrepreneurs. They owned their own tax business and logistics business. My grandparents were also businessowners. That’s all I know. I’ve always been a business owner. 

What does black business ownership mean to you? 

It’s my life. I am a Black business owner and I come from Black business owners. Today, it’s so sensationalized but for me it’s how I’ve always lived. I watched my parents and grandparents run their businesses. I had a tax business that I ran for years before owning ManCave Atlanta. I was also married to a Black business owner in the finance space. So, Black business ownership is a way of life. 

What’s the dream for Mancave Atlanta? 

The dream will become a reality. We are working on expanding and adding new locations. There’s so much more happening right now that I can’t share but we’re steadily working on expanding and growing. 

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