After spotting a gap in the beauty market aged just 23, Thea Green quit her job and turned her business dream into reality. Fast forward nearly 20 years and her brand, Nails Inc, is a multi-million pound empire. Ahead of the launch of her latest venture, INC.redible, a sister brand offering trend-led cosmetics, we caught up with Thea to find out how she makes it work...
Before Nails Inc came about… I had graduated from the London College of Fashion and was working as the Fashion Editor of Tatler. I had an American boss so was constantly travelling to New York and it was during those trips that I became inspired by the fact everyone over there had regular manicures. At the time in the UK, manicures were still seen as a one-off treat and speedy nail bars just weren’t a thing. But even then, salons in the US weren’t up to scratch – polishes were really substandard and there was no brand leader. I quickly became inspired to launch both a nail product and service – I think of Nails Inc as much of a fashion brand as I do a beauty company.
When I started the business… I used my journalistic skills to research everything. I put myself in the mindset of the customer, ensuring we really challenged the status quo and offered better quality products, faster, more efficient services, higher nail bar standards. I raised £250,000 from private investors and opened Nail Inc’s first store on South Molton Street in 1999.
The biggest challenge in the early days… Was keeping up with the demand. Growing is exciting, but it comes with challenges, and you have to ensure you’re ready for the next stage. We never let the brand stand still as we want to lead our industry.
For me, there’s no such thing as an average day… Two days are never the same, which keeps me on my toes. Recently, I’ve been fully immersed in all the creative aspects and product development for our new brand, INC.redible, which shares all the DNA of Nails Inc in terms of colour and innovation, but in cosmetics. It’s great to be expanding our ideas not just in nails, but in make-up, too.
I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout the years… As well as mentoring people through important stages of their own businesses. I’ve learnt so much from other people and, for me, mentoring is a rewarding and incredibly invaluable process.
My best piece of business advice… Is to find an industry you’re passionate about, create something innovative and be a leader not a follower. Make an effort to surround yourself with inspiring and passionate people, too.
Having your own business isn’t for the faint-hearted… Being in charge of your own destiny and effecting change when and where you want it is rewarding, but there’s no denying it’s a full-on, 24/7 role. Being your own boss is never easy.
When it comes to recruiting for Nails Inc… I mainly find new candidates through my own network. I can tell within the first five minutes of meeting someone whether they’ll enjoy their time at Nails Inc – they don’t necessarily have to have the right experience but a passion and love of the brand is essential.
The best cure for bad days… Is laughing with my kids – they help me to put things into perspective. I also make an effort to stay active, whether it’s a good run or a gym session, it really helps me switch off. Sleep is also a miracle cure – when I’m at my most stressed, I try (as much as I can) to get an early night so I’m ready to tackle everything the next day.
Juggling family life and a career is pretty full on… But you become extremely good at prioritising and realise you can cram in more than you think (I hate to say it, but busy people get stuff done). I’ve also learnt that the small stuff really isn't worth sweating over.
The one app I couldn’t be without… Is Ocado – it’s a lifesaver. I wish it was something more glam, but it’s the truth. You’ll find me scrolling through at midnight as I never have time to go to the supermarket.
My guilty pleasure… Is a bag of Liquorice Allsorts and Coronation Street – I haven’t missed an episode since I was six.
I launched INC.redible to shake up the norm… I wanted to create an innovative cosmetics range that had the same ethos as Nails Inc. The initial drop is made up of 54 unique lip products and, like nail polish, it’s been so fun to experiment with different formats, effects and high pigment colour. Next year, we’ll be launching a full cosmetics range and will be adding to the collection over time as we do with Nails Inc.
Nails Inc has a bright future too… We’ll always continue to make great products that our customers love. I will genuinely hang up my brush the day we stop being innovative. Nothing is ever too complicated – just shoot for the stars.
Nails Inc and INC.credible products are available in store and online at NailsInc.com