Thea Green is the founder of Nails Inc., and now, she's building on her existing beauty empire with the launch of INC.redible, a sister brand offering trend-forward makeup to Green's already sizeable audience. First up for the new brand: The initial drop is made up of 54 unique lip products, in varying sheens, finishes, and colours — not to mention puns. From metallic Foiling Around to the sheer, iridescent shades of In A Dream World and the intensely pigmented (and very on-trend) Matte My Day lip paint, the collection is every avid Instagrammer's dream.
The Nails Inc. story first began in 1999, when Green decided it was high time to bring the concept of "manicures for all" to the UK after seeing the services provided by the salons in New York. "The nail industry had previously always been aimed at 'ladies who lunch," Green tells Refinery29. "High-end salons and manicures were definitely for a set group of people, and it was very niche. Busy women or working mothers didn't have time to get their nails done."
So who is Nails Inc. for? "We've always said that everyone should have nice nails. It makes you feel really groomed and put together — even if there's a whole catalog of mess behind you," Green says. "And I think that's the reality of women today; they put a smile on and pretend they're rolling with it when actually they're quite challenged with a million and one things to do." Nails Inc., Green says, has always accepted that, and responded by creating quick-drying products and treatments that can be used twice a week as needed, instead of every day. "We have a no-nonsense approach because that's what we're all like," Green explains. "We're definitely keeping it real in terms of speed and time."
As a leader in her field for nearly two decades now, Green has experienced firsthand the fast-paced nature of an ever-evolving industry. “We’ve felt it over the past few years even more so," she tells us. "Social media is on another level to what it was just 12 months ago.” How has she kept up? “We’re a theatrical brand by the nature of our products and service, so we’ve always had audience engagements, even before we had our digital business," Green explains. "I think we’re well suited to the customer-confident feedback that comes with social media.”
Of course, it's the brand’s innovations — without compromising quality — that have kept it in such high esteem. Through waves of nail art trends and pop-up salons, Nails Inc. has remained a reliable constant, which is not to be confused with boring. The brand brought out its Gel Effect polish long before others were offering hard-wearing lacquer, while its Superfood NailKale formula was the first range to be formulated with the trending antioxidant leafy green (and was modelled by Alexa Chung, to boot). Over the years, Green has managed to tap into the latest in beauty without ever compromising the integrity of her brand.
So why has Green chosen to expand her repertoire now? INC.redible has been three years in the making — and she says she waited for the perfect moment to launch. "At first, we explored the journey of creating our best-selling Nails Inc. shades in lip shades. We got samples in, and thought, 'We're an innovative brand — is this a bit basic?'"
Putting the grand plan on pause, the team revived their nail business at a time when nails weren't particularly trending. "We launched the spray-on and superfood products, came up with really interesting finishes like foils and holographics, and came back with more courage," Green says. "The way we create nails is just by asking, ‘What do we all want to wear?’ What do we see in social media, on the street, in lifestyle trends right now that we want to bring to our wider audience? What have we never seen before, what’s a creative idea that no one’s launched yet? That's how we think with Nails Inc. and that’s what went into the lips.”
What’s important about INC.redible’s approach is that the brand clearly respects its audience. Brands today must be careful not to ride the wave created by young, switched-on, loyal, and experimental beauty fans without creating products that are affordable to that very demographic. "These girls know how to make-up their face in a way I don’t think anyone of my generation knows," Green says. "They don’t use one lipstick, one highlighter, one strobe product, it’s multi-use because they’re watching so much content." With that in mind, the price point for most INC.redible products falls between $13-15, encouraging consumers to experiment and giving them the option to pick and choose without spending a ton of money.
Green acknowledges that, while her experience with Nails Inc. informed a huge amount of the INC.redible production, the makeup brand must earn its own stripes. "As much as we’re trading on our history, we’re a new brand." With the launch now in high gear, how does it feel to be starting out all over again? “As soon as we named the brand INC.redible, the challenge was laid out on the table. If it’s deeply dull, you can’t get away with it," Green says. "This is an amazing opportunity. It feels like we’re a startup again — like it’s 1999!” With the success of Nails Inc. behind her, and the industry insight to provide customers with what they want, INC.redible is set to be a hit. In fact, many of the lip products have already sold out...