Squarespace x WePresents: Make It Real - Sharmadean Reid

As the founder of Beautystack and WAH Nails, Sharmadean Reid’s mission is to use technology to empower women economically, socially and culturally. In 2006, while still in school, Reid founded WAH as a hip-hop magazine for girls. She then founded WAH Nails, originally as a side project, in 2009. Seven years later, she opened a salon in Soho, London, showcasing a Virtual Reality Nail Design app in collaboration with DVTK and is constantly looking for ways to push the salon experience further through technology.

Cast your mind back to 2009. Slumdog Millionaire had won big at the box office, Lady Gaga’s Pokerface was being blasted from every radio station and Alexander McQueen’s Horn of Plenty collection had captivated the fashion world. It was also the year that nail art became perhaps the biggest trend to explode within the beauty industry, with intricately-painted designs appearing everywhere from the catwalks to dedicated nail blogs. And in London, that trend was largely down to one woman: Sharmadean Reid.
Sharmadean opened WAH nail salon on Kingsland Road in Hackney in 2009, taking the name (which stands for We Ain’t Hoes) from a zine that she started while still a student at Central Saint Martins a few years earlier. Originally founded as a space for like-minded women to meet and discuss everything from business plans to feminism while getting their nails done, WAH quickly grew into a national phenomenon. Within two months of opening, the business began hosting pop ups across London while still doing the nails of the who’s who of the fashion industry in the Hackney space. Sharmadean was thrust into the business spotlight.
“At first it wasn't about running a business for me, it was about creating a physical space to connect with my friends,” she says. “I researched the hell out of the salon business and figured out that at first it wouldn't be scalable but that it wouldn't lose money either, so I set up shop with 17 grand of capital my friend had lent me from her own savings.”
I never saw my race, gender, or background as something that holds me back.

Find out more about Sharmadein's thoughts on the future of female empowerment in business:

With her experience from WAH, she founded Beautystack, a new way to book beauty through images. Reid has also written two books, delivered global pop up nail salons for hundreds of brands, created a product line with Walgreen Boots Alliance and was awarded an MBE from HRH Queen in 2015 for services to Beauty.
“My version of success is feeling secure enough to be able to think freely. So it’s a success of the mind and not feeling oppressed there. Financial security is a major part of success, the freedom to be autonomous in managing my time and my choices, that's why Beautystack is so focused on economically empowering women.”
Visit Sharmadean's website here.
Squarespace and WePresent partnered to celebrate and support Black female entrepreneurs. The series ‘Make It Real’ highlights four women who've transformed their creative ideas into a reality.
Discover more stories:
Jade Purple Brown on the power of representation in design
Liv Little on the need for diverse storytelling in media
Holley M. Kholi-Murchison on the tools needed for success

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