Josephine Platt meets with the beauty pioneer and founder of WAH Nails as she launches her new app, beautystack, with up a three-month Pop-Up space.

"I’ve been sitting on the idea for the beautystack app for years," explains Sharmadean Reid MBE, in her brand spanking new three-month pop-up space, which has taken up residency in Kings Cross’ newest development, Coal Drops Yard. "It feels really exciting to me, being a part of this massive game-changing development – it’s such a rare opportunity," she enthuses.

Sharmadean founded WAH Nails back in 2008 (which began life as a fanzine, during her time studying at Central Saint Martins), and the past decade has seen it grow into the London destination for intricate, Instagrammable nail art – with an online following of 515k to boot. But her entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t stopped there.

Time is money in beauty, something Sharmadean attests – and her latest venture is the million-dollar problem solver we’ve all been waiting for: If bringing a disjointed camera roll of screenshots into a beauty appointment and hoping for the best sounds all too familiar, then you’ll be relieved to learn that it stops now. Born as a solution to the admin of answering endless requests at WAH Nails about who created a look, how long it takes, how much it costs and so on, beautystack enters into the equation as the one-click antidote.

"I thought that it would be so much easier if people could just book the picture so that we knew what they wanted before they even walked in, ultimately saving the consultation time," Sharmadean says. "You can do it all within the app, from booking the treatment, to paying, liking and following. There’s already a very saturated market with numerous scheduling and beauty booking apps, but they don’t reflect what happens in my salon, which is the community aspect. At WAH Nails, people don’t just come in and book a treatment; clients plan their trips in advance and know they’re making a new friend, and building a relationship and loyalty."

An extension of the essence of WAH Nails, this aspect of cultivating a sense of community is at the heart of the beautystack pop-up space. "I thought, how can we combine the best of social networking with the best of market places – people who are at the top of their respective games, who have a very specialist artistry and really distinctive styles, which is why we brought on-board Bam Brows, who do a very thick amazing, fluffy brow and Keash Braids for their colourful braids," she says.

In fact, creating a physical community from the get-go is what inspired Sharmadean’s decision to go ahead with the pop-up: "Technology and beauty together are really hot right now. It’s the space to be," she says. "But, I think what people forget is that with services someone always has to physically do them, and it also always has to happen somewhere. As we're keeping human connection at the core of our brand, we won’t have to scrabble like other companies do when they realise it’s too late and all they’ve done is made an app about swipes and likes, and buttons and pictures."

Sharmadean is a vessel of bright ideas – sitting next to her for 30 minutes has fired me up. Where does this entrepreneurial spirit come from? "Quite frankly, things just irritate me if they’re not done efficiently and then I feel super obligated to do it… I think, if I won’t do it, then who will? One of the most challenging things is that I have to sift through and decide what not to do – I park around 99% of my ideas."

What about her advice for running with an idea? "You need to look at all of the pros and cons, or try value-driven decision making, which I prefer – how long it’s going to take to be successful, how much resource you’ll need, but then also what it’s going to do to your mental capacity and your relationships. Then you can ask yourself, is it actually worth it?"

In the case of beautystack, it certainly proves to be.

beautystack will run from November 2018 to January 2019 at Lower Stable Street, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ.

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