Nails Inc. Founder Thea Green On Building A Beauty Empire

Photo: Courtesy Of Nails Inc
Nails Inc. founder Thea Green is building on her existing beauty empire by launching INC.redible, a sister brand offering trend-led makeup products to her already huge audience. The initial drop is made up of 54 unique lip products, with varying sheens, finishes and colours. From ‘wearable drama’ Strobe Lipstick to holographic Iridescent Gloss, via the highly pigmented Liquid Matte Lip Paint, the collection is every Instagrammer’s dream.
For those who aren’t aware, the Nails Inc. story began in 1999. Green brought the concept of ‘manicures for all’ to the UK after seeing the services provided by the salons of New York. “The nail industry had previously always been aimed at ladies at lunch. High-end salons and manicures were definitely for a set group of people, and it was very niche. Busy women or working mums didn’t have time to get their nails done,” she tells Refinery29. So who was 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 catalogue of mess behind you. 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. has always accepted that and made quick-drying products or treatments that can be used twice a week instead of every day. We have a no-nonsense approach because that’s what we’re all like. We’re definitely keeping it real in terms of speed and time.”
As a leader in her field for over 18 years, Green’s experienced firsthand the fast-paced nature of an ever-evolving industry. “We’ve felt it over the past few years even more so. 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. 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). 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? Three years in the making, she waited for the right moment to launch. “At first, we explored the journey of creating our bestselling 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,” she explains. “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 audience. “These girls know how to make-up their face in a way I don’t think anyone of my generation knows. They don’t use one lipstick, one highlighter, one strobe product, it’s multi-use because they’re watching so much content,” Green says. With that in mind, the price point for most INC.redible products falls between £8 and £10, encouraging consumers to experiment, and pick and choose. 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. For new customers, stockists like Look Fantastic and H&M (Scandinavia) will be their first touchpoint with our brand – you can’t start at £15 from day one.”
With the brand launching from today, 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. 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.
INC.redible launches today, with further products dropping from February 2018.
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