London Grace believes ‘catching up with friends, a glass of wine and a good-looking set of nails’ are amongst the best things in life, which is why it has created a space where all three can be enjoyed in equal measure. London Grace questions what it means to be a ‘nail salon’, as it establishes itself as a branded lifestyle experience with beautiful store environments and refined treatments. Believing that it is no longer enough to simply offer a quality nail service on its own, it is this passion for providing a beauty experience that has assisted London Grace in its high street success.
Founder, Kirsten Hazell, launched London Grace in January 2015 with its first store on Putney High Street in London. The concept combined nails, coffee and cocktails to create a social beauty experience. “Kirsten fell in love with the mani-pedi experience as a student in New York, but when she returned to London to start her career in technology consultancy she was surprised by the lack of choice in nail bars for her favourite monthly treat,” explains Lauren Williams, director at London Grace.“After some research she believed there was a gap in the market to create a nail care brand that provided clients with high quality products, refined treatments and a friendly service, but at an affordable price.
Lauren Williams, director at London Grace
“As a local resident living in Putney at the time I thought London Grace was an exciting and innovative addition to the high street. I had experience working with start-up beauty brands and got in touch with Kirsten to congratulate her on the amazing concept and the rest, as they say, is history! I began working with Kristen on a freelance basis, managing the PR and social media for London Grace, alongside my job as a marketing executive for a luxury design brand. However, Kristen’s ambitious expansion plan for London Grace was inspiring and when she asked if I’d like to join the company full-time as a director to help her grow the brand, it felt like an unmissable opportunity.
“Our complementary skills were beneficial for separating the many components of growing a start-up brand – Kristen manages the internal elements such as finance, HR and operations, while I look after the external aspects such as PR, marketing and customer service. Five years later, we have 10 stores across London and Essex and 120 team members working for the brand.”
London Grace boasts the ethos of ‘healthy, happy nails’ and offers only natural nail care services, believing simplicity is key. The salon offers a refined menu of manicure and pedicure treatments and technicians are trained to advise each individual client on the service that is best suited to their nail condition. Lauren explains that London Grace strives for long term relationships between its technicians and customers based on trust and a personable service, crediting a large part of the brand’s success to its team.
“We want our clients to think of London Grace as a home-from-home environment,” smiles Lauren. “Kirsten has a real eye for design and oversees the fit outs for all of our store locations. I remember when I first walked into our Putney store, I completely fell in love with the décor, it seemed a world away from the white ‘clinical’ feel of the other nail bars I’d visited in the past.”
Each of the 10 stores sees a bright, fresh and modern yet welcoming and homely interior, with cream walls and wooden floors complemented by vibrant pops of colour, neon feature lights and cosy soft furnishings. Practical yet on-trend, the interior of each London Grace salon has been carefully considered in order to create an on-trend space in which customers can feel relaxed yet sociable.
“London Grace is about so much more than just a ‘mani’. Our aim is provide a memorable experience for our clients, whether that’s a little bit of ‘me time’ with a pampering pedicure and a delicious flat white or creating a bespoke party, complete with manis, cocktails and canapés to celebrate a special occasion in their lives,” –Lauren Williams, director at London Grace.
When asked what sets London Grace apart from its competitors, Lauren replies:“London Grace is about so much more than just a ‘mani’. Our aim is to provide a memorable experience for our clients, whether that’s a little bit of ‘me time’ with a pampering pedicure and a delicious flat white or creating a bespoke party, complete with manis, cocktails and canapés to celebrate a special occasion in their lives.”
Through this dedication to creating a brand experience as opposed to a standalone nail service, London Grace has successfully achieved its goal of being an ‘experiential retail destination’. Rather than focusing on the nail service in isolation, every aspect of the client journey in London Grace has been considered to resonate and connect with its customers on a greater level. “The treatments are just one aspect of the experience, which can be tailored to suit our clients’ needs,” explains Lauren. “The inclusivity of our offering means it appeals to a wide variety of clients – all genders, ages and demographics can enjoy the experience.
“With high business rates and falling footfall, today’s high street is tougher than ever. Clients are also savvier and more attuned to what you can provide in comparison to your competitors, thanks to transparency online from social media and Google reviews, etc. If your offering is innovative then it will give people a reason to try it, if they try it and believe the brand feels authentic then they are more likely to want to return.
“It is important to strike a delicate balance between keeping the authenticity of your brand and what you set out for it to become, while listening and adapting to the valuable feedback you receive from your team and clients.”
A huge part of perfecting the London Grace brand and experience has been the development of its own range of nail care products, including its own line of nail polish. “Many of the tools we use during our treatments such as the shape file, nail buffs and foot file have all been developed by London Grace and are available for our clients to buy in stores and online. We have over 65 nail polish colours with a selection of base and top coats to suit different nail types.
“Last year, we launched our own ‘Renew + Revive’ nail treatment and cuticle oil and this year we’re excited to add to our nail care collection with a new hand and foot cream we’re developing. Over the past five years we’ve been able to use feedback from our technicians (and clients) about the products they would like to use, from launching a certain nail polish colour they feel is missing from our collection from developing a high quality, reusable foot file.”
The brand’s passion for product development and ‘no nonsense’ nail care means its goals for the near future are to grow this aspect of London Grace. “We’d love to see our products being used in professional nail salons and spas across the UK and beyond,” says Lauren. “We believe there are many clients out there who would appreciate the choice of a British nail care brand, particularly with our 10-free and vegan formula. Our products really help to strengthen the retail sales in our stores as the same professional tools and products are available for our clients to buy and use to maintain their results at home.”
Lauren Williams is taking part in a panel talkon behalf of London Grace at Retail Week Live to discuss ‘why marrying authenticity and innovation is key to creating experimental retail destinations’ on Wednesday 25 March at 4.25pm. Retail Week Live takes place on 25 & 26 March at the Intercontinental O2 and sees over 200 speakers addressing a number of important topics surrounding retail. Tickets for Retail Week Live can be foundhere.