5 Minutes With… WAH London Founder, Sharmadean Reid

We’ve loved working with WAH London founder Sharmadean Reid this month – find her amazing products in the May Box and Birchbox Shop – so we sat down with the smart, stylish entrepreneur to hear her beauty and business advice. There’s something in here for everyone!
Sharmadean Reid

How did you start WAH London?

I started the WAH fanzine in 2006, then the blog – and then in 2009 I had the idea to open my own nail salon. I just wanted a cool space that my friends could hang in. I always knew I wanted to have my own products and I knew it would be essential to long term success of the brand, but I had to find the right partner. Boots were British, with ethical manufacturing processes and an amazing team that gave realised my vision completely. I began by thinking of the core collection, the most popular colours that are requested in the salon. And then I mood boarded each colour to send to the factory. It was fun seeing what they came up with. I bet they’d never seen an Aaliyah video still on a reference for a white polish before!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Have a vision for your brand and have a plan for the business. It’s hard to balance both but if you compromise on either, it’s likely to fail. The vision for WAH was to be the coolest salon ever, but the plan is more strategic. Also be passionate and love and use your products or service. You’re the best billboard for your brand.

What’s your favourite beauty era?

I love America on the late 1960s/early 70s where black women and black beauty started to come into their own. I love the natural look. Tanned brown make-up free skin and curly hair.

What differentiates WAH London from the other nail brands out there?

We live it and breathe it. We weren’t dreamt up by a bunch of marketing men around a board table. It all comes from a feeling… Or girl power, of independence, of creativity and of art. I guess ultimately I want to be the go to nail art brand.

If you were a nail polish or nail art concept what would you be?

A digital nail polish that you can use your phone to change up the colour at any time.

How do you come up with the names of your polishes?

I get ideas for names from hip hop lyrics, works of art, or just girl phrases. Sometimes the colour comes from the art, like An Even Bigger Splash is a David Hockney shade of blue. Some names could be applied to any colour but some are specific to the mood.

Tell us 3 products you recommend as a WAH London starter kit?

The Buffing Block is my fave thing because I like a nice clean canvas on my nails. It just makes them look better! I love the Cuticle Nipper because it’s gold! And usually they’re in boring colours. And finally Mating Surfaces. Basically the perfect lilac.

Describe WAH London in 3 words….

Sassy, glossy, bossy, (OMG that’s our new motto!)
– As told to Jessica Diner