This week on the blog, I have decided to re-start my interview series #MumsWhoWorkIt. My idea for these blog posts is to interview local business women who have set up their own business. To find out what the inspiration was for their business and how they juggle motherhood with running a business. So, this week I welcome Tori & Carrie twin sisters who live in Ealing. They created Nailpad an ingenious way to help you paint your nails at home or on the go.
What’s your background and why did you both decided to start your own business?
Carrie: I have lived in Northfields, Ealing with my husband James since 2010 (with a 2 ½ year break living in Hong Kong). I moved back at the end of 2014, just before my little girl was born. She is now four and I have a little boy who recently turned two.
My career focus has been marketing, specifically in the fields of snowsports and travel – two of my passions. During my time in Hong Kong, I set up as a marketing consultant and continue to do so today, specialising mainly in strategy, communications and events.
The evolution of Nailpad has been in the background since living in Hong Kong. It was only at the start of this year that Tori and I could finally launch properly and bring Nailpad to life.
Tori: I live in St Margarets with my husband Joe, four-year-old son, Mikey and our black lab, Chevvy. Mikey starts school in September: I still can’t believe how quickly the time has flown!
My professional background is HR and Recruitment and, for the last 12 years, I worked as Group HR Director for a travel company. At the end of 2018, it was time to pursue a new adventure and in January 2019, we launched Nailpad.
We’ve always thought it would be amazing if we could have our own business and work together. That opportunity came with the concept of Nailpad: something we are both passionate about.
What was your inspiration for Nailpad?
Tori: I have always loved painting my nails and trying out new colours. One evening I was sitting on the sofa, precariously balancing the bottle between my legs and getting some polish on yet another pair of jeans. I thought there must be a better way to do this: I sketched out the initial Nailpad concept on a piece of paper and we went from there!
Carrie: Tori and I have always loved painting our nails at home – discussing favourite colours and brands of nail polish. Like all our friends, we found holding a nail polish bottle between knees a real hassle – always worrying it would spill. Using a magazine as a surface was just not quite right either: it never felt very stable.
When I was in Hong Kong in 2013, during one of our weekly Saturday Skype calls, Tori showed me an idea she had been working on. It was the very first prototype of Nailpad, cut out in paper. Six years later, after multiple prototypes, design iterations, material testing, pot-holder and product shapes, we manufactured Nailpad. We now sell it on our Nailpad website to help others paint their nails at home or on the go and to make life easier.
Describe a typical day for you?
Carrie: I work part-time on Nailpad and look after the Heidi and Teddy two days a week. When it’s a Nailpad day, I am probably working by 8.30am and cram as much work as I can before pick up at 5pm with the occasional stop to hang up the washing. I either work from home with Tori or at her house, in local cafes and libraries. We recently discovered the British Library – such an immense resource and a fantastic place for inspiration and support for start-ups.
Tori: At the moment no day is typical as I am still getting used to my new routine and not being in an office! Mikey is in pre-school three days a week so that is when I get the majority of work done on Nailpad (either at home, at Carrie’s or a local coffee shop in St Margarets!). I set my agenda for the day and break the day up in chunks and try to stick to it. Carrie and I work together physically at least one day a week and are in constant contact discussing new ideas and what’s on the agenda.
What do you think has been the biggest challenge for you both starting your own business?
Carrie: Time is a real challenge. There are so many things with work and family life we want to do, feel like we should be doing or aspire to do. However time just isn’t on our side sometimes… I made the decision to work part-time so I could share more time with the babes before they start school and am really pleased to have done that. It just means the odd night catching up on emails or work.
Tori: There is always so much to do so having to learn how to be ruthless with priorities. Also, we realised early on that one has to tackle many different roles when starting a new business – product design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, finance etc. It’s a steep learning curve!
How do you think Motherhood has changed you?
Carrie: I think my ability to multi-task and prioritise has improved! And also realise that the most important thing in life is spending time and experiences together as a family. Work will always come after that.
Tori: Like all of us, Motherhood has completely changed my approach to life. With a different set of priorities, I made the decision to change my career, enabling me to live a more flexible life with the family at the heart of it.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given about Motherhood that you would like to share?
Tori: In the early days, sleep when your baby sleeps and nap when you can!
Carrie: That all young children go through different stages, some of which at the time may seem difficult but (rest assured) they will soon pass.
Where are your favourite places to go with or without kids in Ealing/West London?
Carrie: I’m a real fan of Gunnersbury Park at the moment – there is so much for children to do – from the playground, lovely café with yummy pizzas and museum, to the walks and adventure trail ending up at the insect farm. It’s always a fun few hours.
Osteria Del Portico for an Italian meal is a favourite for a low-key date night. Great food, service and atmosphere!
Tori: I love heading to Osterley Park. When Carrie and I meet up with our children we go to some of the great parks around here – Lammas, Blondin and Walpole to name a few. Also I do love a coffee at the Fields cafe!
What are your handbag essentials?
Carrie: With two little ones, my handbag is usually over spilling with cars, colouring pencils and snap cards! I do love a little hand lotion and nail file in there though to keep hands moisturised and any chipped nails sorted as soon as I can.
Tori: Lip balm, portable phone charger and a nail file! With Mikey, I always make sure I have a mini figure toy, colouring book and water.
How do you see your business developing over the next couple of years?
Tori: We hope that people will see Nailpad in the same light as we see it: as an essential manicure accessory for anyone who paints their nails at home or ‘on the go.’
Carrie: We have plans for new colours and additional product ranges. Currently we mainly sell to the UK market, and are looking to expand into new regions and to look at new distribution channels.
What advice would you give to other Mums who are considering setting up their own business?
Tori: Use resources and professional people to help you in areas you have less experience in. You don’t have to be an expert about everything.
Carrie: There is a lot of admin involved but don’t let this put you off! Finance is always an issue. In fact, one of Tori’s roles is to investigate funding opportunities.
So if you have an idea, go for it – if it’s meant to be it will happen.
What is the one thing you wish you had already known when setting up your business?
Carrie: It takes time! A lot of it!
Tori: It’s totally normal for mistakes to happen – learning from them is really important.
Where can potential customers find Nailpad?