Lynda-Louise Burrell is the co-founder and creative director of nailgirls, a North London neighbourhood nail spa and collection of classic and fashion nail colours.
Fusing a boutique nail salon concept with a luxury spa environment, nailgirls has attracted critical acclaim from beauty aficionados.
In addition to their standalone spa location in Islington, nailgirls recently launched a pop up shop in Selfridges as part of London Fashion Week.
Why did you decide to start your business?
We opened our doors in March 2009. My sister Joanna and I saw a gap in the UK nail market, not just with the way that we view spas, but also the nail products that we use. nailgirls colours are the affordable way to keep on trend and our range is free from formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene and camphor.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
After university I moved to New York to work for Marc Jacobs as a design intern. From there I worked for a variety of designers including Mark Eisen. While I was working for Marc Jacobs I worked alongside Venetia Scott, his stylist, and I developed a love for styling more than design.
I heard than Lori Goldstein was looking for an assistant so I worked with her on some iconic shoots for Italian Vogue and some amazing ad campaigns. I also did a stint with Brana Wolf again shooting with the likes of Steven Meisel. I then worked for a host of fashion editors and stylists. While I was working for a stylist on a job for US Marie Claire magazine they asked me to work for them on a more permanent basis, which I did for a year.
I had the ideas for nailgirls as soon as I moved to the States but while at Marie Claire I really shaped the idea into the company you see today.
I use all of the same skills that I used at the magazine for nailgirls. Every season I still watch the shows and pull the trends but now I apply them to the nailgirls colour collection and the patterns and prints for our nail art collection, rather than talking about the clothing that you should be wearing.
What are you working on at the moment? Can you describe your typical working day?
Every day varies but they all start by me waking up at 6.00 am to a strong mug of coffee that I drink while I check my emails.
Some days I work from home, but I generally go into the spa. But I always have a meeting with Jo, my sister and business partner, usually a face to face in the mornings or I call her. I always call Zoe our spa manager for our morning meeting.
I stop into the spa most days for meetings, to see the girls, have my mani-pedi for press appointments and more importantly to see clients. Clients always like to see Jo and I to catch up on gossip etc. nailgirls really is a neighbourhood meeting point, even for me.
Who is the typical nailgirls customer?
Our spa is in Islington, North London and is a neighbourhood spa. Therefore we do get a lot of locals but due to our press coverage and word of mouth we have clients from all over London.
We sell our colours on our website and have people from Scotland, Wales and even Brazil purchasing our colours on a regular basis.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Making a product and introducing the UK to a new way of spa-ing, which people are taking to heart and believing in, because it really works.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
I would say the staff. Managing beauty staff is different to managing the other staff that I have worked with before. But we do have a great bunch of girls.
What has been your proudest moment to date?
There have been so many. Being in the spa and hearing clients say how much they love the treatments and how the treatments have improved the condition of their nails, hands or feet is great.
Also when clients tell me that they have tried the products and they really work, and that the colours have lasted well on nails. The record for a colour lasting I have been told about is 13 days for fingernails and 6 weeks on toenails.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Know who and what you are. Don’t dismiss anyone or anything, listen to advice, digest that advice and then apply it to your business.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
Anyone and everyone that tries, thinks outside the box, does it their own way and bucks the odds despite the odds and the pitfalls.
Are there any business development resources you have found especially useful as you built your company?
No, not at all. What was really surprising was that you would think that there’d be lots of tools and schemes to help small business but I didn’t find one that worked for us.
The usual Government schemes that everyone tries were not helpful. I knew more than the advisers did! This seriously needs to be addressed by the Government. They should get people in to run these agencies that have been successful in business and are more than just paper pushers.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own beauty business?
Stay true to your concept. Get a good team around you. Don’t forget your customer.
What are your future goals for nailgirls?
We are expanding the product range and the retail side of the business. There are a few other exciting things happening but I really can’t talk about them at the moment. But when they happen I will let you know!
For more information on the nailgirls spa and the limited edition colour collections visit www.nailgirls.co.uk
Lynda-Louise Burrell was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
The Twenty Ten Club connects, inspires and supports Black female business owners. If you are interested in becoming a member you can find out more here.