Thea Green Founder & MD, nails inc: From Fashion Editor at Tatler to Founding the UK's Most Succesful Nail Bar Chain

To celebrate the forthcoming First Women awards, The NextWomen spoke with the three entrepreneurs amongst the 2011 winners.

We've already featured Bev Hurley, CEO, YTKO & Enterprising Women and Thomasina Miers, Co-founder & Executive Chef, Wahaca Restaurants. Today (the deadline for the 2012 nominations) we bring you Thea Green, Founder & MD, nails inc, Joint Winner of the Consumer & Retail Award.

Thea Green, is founder and managing director of nails inc, which launched in 1999 and is now the UK’s most successful nail bar chain offering convenient, affordable, high-quality, branded nail services. Thea was awarded with an MBE for her work in the industry and has successfully established the brand as a leading competitor in the global beauty market which has a turnover of over £15 million. Outside of work, Thea is passionate about cooking and being a mum to her three young children. Judges said that Thea was a clear winner because she has successfully designed, manufactured and delivered a product that has held its own in an incredibly competitive market. She was described as having taken on the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ world by storm and her clear vision, and ability to plan as well as adapt, has made her a force to be reckoned with and a savvy entrepreneur in her industry.

We spoke to Thea about how she came to found nails inc; her world domination plans; and her tips for entrepreneurs

TNW: What did winning a First Women Award mean to you and your business?

TG: It’s always amazing to get external recognition, not only for me but for the brand.  It is such a great achievement to bring back to the nails inc team.

TNW: Why do you think it is important to celebrate female entrepreneurship through events like the First Women Awards?

TG: not only super inspirational for anyone working in different categories but it’s also great from a networking perspective.  I have met so many fantastic people that I’m still in touch with now.  We help each other with our businesses and swap contacts.

TNW: Why should other women in business put themselves forward for a First Women Award?

TG: It’s a stage to showcase your business and achievements and meet other inspirational women.

TNW: How did you come up with the idea for Nails Inc and then arrive at the decision to turn your idea into a reality?

TG: I was working as the Fashion Editor at Tatler in New York and I saw how successful the manicure bars were over there and thought there was a real gap in the market for a concept like this in the UK. 

I researched the idea, held focus groups and drummed up as much private investment as possible and plunged straight in the deep end by launching nails inc in 1999. 

TNW: What is next for your company?

TG: We have just rolled out with Sephora in the US and Canada and we are launching into Europe this summer.  We are also in talks with distributors in Asia, the Middle East and Australia to expand into these areas. 

TNW: Have you come across any other exciting startups recently and what is it about them that appeals to you?

Hayley Gait-Golding started up a healthy snack foods company called ‘Bear’.  It is such a fantastic and innovative product and has great distribution already, despite only just recently launching. 

TNW: What are the advantages of gender diversity in a startup? Are there any disadvantages?

TG: I have never found this to be an issue within the beauty industry.  We are predominantly a female workforce at nails inc, however I think the cosmetics industry celebrations both genders equally.

TNW: What lessons have you taken from your successes &/or failures?

TG: I have learnt a lot since starting up nails inc in 1999.  I have learnt just as much from my successes as I have from my failures.  You learn a lot from being a managing director of a company as you end up learning a little bit about every area e.g. finance, creative, product developing, managing a team.  With the diversity and variety of my role, I am still constantly learning as I go along. 

TNW: Do you have any tips or any advice for women who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?

TG: I would advise these women to scope out a business with a unique proposition in the market.  They should not be put off by any hurdles that crop up along the way and just keep with it.  They must embrace criticism and adapt their business accordingly. 

It’s all about being brave and bold in starting up a business so when you’re ready you have to just take the plunge.  I can promise you all that there is nothing quite like starting up your own business – it’s truly fulfilling. 

TNW: Do you have any role models or mentors?

TG: I have lots of role models and mentors who continue to inspire me in my industry.  The people who most inspire me are bright entrepreneurs and inventors who can come up with original and innovative ideas. 

TNW: Thank you Thea.

The First Women Awards celebrate trailblazing women from the business, entrepreneurial, manufacturing, science & technology, and media sectors who are leading the way for the next generation. The awards were created by Real Business and the CBI, and are held in association with Lloyds Banking Group.

Speaking about the awards programme, Fiona Cannon, Diversity & Inclusion Director at Lloyds Banking Group, said:

"The First Women Awards are a fantastic platform for celebrating and rewarding our country's most inspirational businesswomen and we are delighted to be headline sponsor for this prestigious event for the 7th year running.  At Lloyds Banking Group we champion diversity across all levels of our workforce and have a strong legacy for supporting women in business.

"It has always been our goal to be the best place for women to work and bank and we are encouraging our own successful women, both within our organisation and among our customer base, to follow in the footsteps of the previous First Women Award winners and put themselves forward for this fantastic programme."

The closing date for entries is 13 April 2012, with the awards ceremony taking place on 28 June 2012 in London. For more information please visit the First Women Awards 2012 website.

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