Thea Green of Nails Inc: ‘I don’t ever want to switch off’

Thea Green of Nails Inc: ‘I don’t ever want to switch off’

In the first of a year-long series focusing on the most innovative and inspiring businesses in Britain today, Abigail Townsend meets Nails Inc founder Thea Green.


Raising the bar: Thea Green of Nails Inc Photo: Dylan Thomas

11:51AM BST 24 May 2013

“Neon pink, then green, peach, pale blue and orange.” Thea Green is describing nail polish shades she’s wearing. “Rainbow nails,” she calls them with a laugh. Most women would balk at wearing five colours, but then the founder and owner of Nails Inc is not most women. After leaving journalism to set up her chain of nail bars, her commitment has never wavered. Any downtime is spent with husband Nick, who runs a digital printing business, and their three children – aged between three and nine – in their Fulham home, a few miles from Nails Inc’s Regent Street head office.“I don’t ever want to switch off,” she says of her work. “It’s a big extension of who I am and I thoroughly enjoy it. It can be difficult, of course, to find a work-life balance but when you’re running your own business it’s up to you to find that balance.”

Green was fashion editor at Tatler and travelled regularly to New York, where nail bars are common. Back home, however, she realised there was nowhere similar.

After extensive research she raised £200,000 and, aged 23, opened her first nail bar in South Molton Street, off London’s Oxford Street.

The big break came when Green persuaded department stores to open concessions: “Back then, there were no services in department stores: no eyebrow threading, no teeth whitening, nothing,” she recalls.

“But there was a real desire to keep customers in store for longer.

“People were nervous about whether women would want to get their nails done in public. But I knew convenience would always win over privacy.”

Nails Inc now has bars in Fenwick, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, and 59 stand-alone stores. Treatments range from 10-minute manicures to luxury pedicures costing £120.

Green, 37, has an MBE and was a finalist last year for the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year award.

Turnover is already ahead of last year, boosted in part by expanding internationally. In a recession, people may forgo new outfits but they can still find cash for nails. And Thea Green is the woman to provide it.


Company Nails Inc

Established 1999

Turnover £22m in 2011/12

Number of staff 450



About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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