Sharmadean Reid on How to Get What You Want
On starting out
I always work backwards. I work out what I want, and then I figure out how I’m going to get there. Right now, I want to own an eco hotel in Jamaica, so I’m doing everything I can to make enough money to turn that into a reality! [laughs]
Before I started WAH, getting my nails done was a way to relax. That would have been around 2006/2007 and no one in London was really into nails. I was at Central Saint Martins and I was experimenting with loads of colors and designs. I’d want something different, but I’d often have difficulty getting someone to do the design I wanted. So I just thought, “I’ll set up my own thing”.
“Sure, maybe some people thought it was mad to open a nail shop in a financial crisis, but I just knew it was right.”
It made sense, there was nothing like it. I opened the WAH salon in Dalston East London in 2009 — more than anything I wanted a real space, a place for people to hang out. Sure, maybe some people thought it was mad to open a nail shop in a financial crisis, but I just knew it was right.
I never approach projects with a business head. It always comes from a place of creativity, like, wouldn’t that be amazing? It has to be something I’d want for myself. And that’s still the way I work.
On dealing with knock-backs
I do get knock-backs, but when I’m sure about something I’m very, very determined. If I’m convinced, then I just don’t see a reason why I can’t convince someone else [laughs]. If I don’t get the yes I need, I just keep trying. I will ask why it’s a no. When I get a reason — I’ll have something to work with.
Say for example, if I want our products in a particular store and the buyer says “we won’t stock a nail pen, it won’t sell”, I make sure they know that it sells really well!
On doing your research
When it comes to getting what you want there’s a lot to be said for research — knowledge is power! Last year, I travelled to Bangkok to promote WAH and I was doing a special event for all of these powerful Thai girls.
“There’s a difference between being manipulative and just choosing to show people the side of you that they want to see.”
Before the event, I looked through each of their Instagrams. I knew that to make the best impression, I would need to immerse myself in their aesthetic. They were all really girly — diamonds and sparkle. I have a side to my personality that loves that — so I just brought that side out.
There’s a difference between being manipulative and just choosing to show people the side of you that they want to see. There are loads of sides to my personality, I just decide which side to show depending on the situation. You’ve got to kind of look at yourself with perspective, and get inside people’s minds. I find it really easy to read people — and I honestly can say no one has ever surprised me! [laughs]
On being a mum
My son Roman is four. I used to feel really guilty about going out to work, or about even going out at night and dancing. And I’ve always loved to go out! I think you definitely get this thing when you’re a mum where you feel bad if you do anything other than focus on being a mum. But I’m over that now — I realize that I can dance in the club and I can be a good mum, I can be many things at once and that’s cool.
“I realize that I can dance in the club and I can be a good mum, I can be many things at once and that’s cool.”
I think motherhood has given me perspective — he’s my priority. It’s also made me more empathetic. When I was younger, I used to find it really difficult to understand other people’s problems. I had nothing growing up so I’d be like — “What are you moaning about?” Now I understand problems are relative. I’m thankful for what I’ve got.
As told to Harriet Hawksworth
Images: WAH Nails