If you work in the nail industry – or even if you don’t – you’ve probably heard about the iconic The GelBottle. But, how well do you know the woman behind it?
The GelBottle was started by nail tech, Daisy Kalnina, who worked her way up to being one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the industry. Having introduced her latest range of nail polishes, Peacci, we couldn’t wait to catch up with Daisy to find out how she created her own colourful brand of nail polishes for all clients and nail technicians…
Hi Daisy! Can you give us a little introduction to yourself and the brands you have created?
I first worked in the nail industry, managing my mother’s full-service salon when I was 15 and I’ve been passionate about the industry ever since! Like many nail technicians, I started my nail career in the spare room of my home. A few years later, I owned a busy salon in central Brighton whilst working on creating my own line of gel polish. Following years of research and hard work, the first The GelBottle line was ready and it was soon stocking my own salon!
It was a huge risk. My salon was already successful but completely changing my product line, not only to a new range but to one I had created myself, was terrifying! Thankfully it was a huge success and soon enough, people everywhere were telling me that I had to start retailing The GelBottle to other salons and nail technicians.
Fast forward five years and The GelBottle is now a huge international company! My favourite celebrities are fans of a product I designed and I now have two new brands in the product family: Peacci and The GelBottle Academy. It’s crazy how much we’ve grown, but at the end of the day, I’ll always be the same person: a businesswoman who is OBSESSED with nails, good quality products and making my customers happy.
With The GelBottle already a success, what made you expand into Peacci nail polishes?
When The GelBottle became the official nail supplier of London Fashion Week, I realised that there is a huge gap in the market for regular nail polish that allows looks to be changed more often. During fashion week, models sometimes have to have different nail looks multiple times a day and applying gel to their nails just isn’t viable.
However, we found that traditional nail polish brands often didn’t provide the colour and pigment required for more creative nail looks that are sought after on the catwalk. I’ve always loved the creative side of the nail industry; we’re artists after all! So, I wanted to launch a polish brand that had no limits of colour, quality or results.
Also, with the ever-growing self-care movement, more and more people wanted to be able to pamper themselves at home. I wanted to provide an opportunity for home-users to experience colour and quality like they would in a salon, whilst also ensuring that salons could benefit by upselling Peacci polishes to their manicure customers.
Because Peacci colours match The GelBottle,, it’s a great product for manicure customers to take home if they don’t want to commit to an in-salon pedi. Peacci is a great product for salons to sell and add to their retail repertoire. I’m all about supporting women to grow their businesses, and providing a quality retail product with great USP values was just one extra way I could do this.
Peacci also means my customers can offer additional services in their salons, such as ‘mummy & me manis’ – where regular polish can be used on younger clients in matching shades to their parent or carers gel manicure.
How have you made your nail brands stand out in such a busy market?
Obviously the nail industry is a huge market, so in the process of creating The GelBottle, there was so much I needed to consider to make an impact in an already saturated market.
Innovation is so important for me. My aim was to create unique products focussed on the things that I valued, and that other people value – hence why we are 100% cruelty-free and vegan. Being Vegan and cruelty-free was non-negotiable as I’m a huge animal lover (I just got a new parrot, #obsessed!). I had to ensure that the products were exactly as I was claiming them to be, i.e. long-lasting, pigmented with a high-quality formula and delivering a completely unique colour range.
The USP of TheGelBottle has also taken a slightly different approach, where we put the nail technicians first, as I am and always will be a nail tech! I started this brand to provide great results for my customers and my business within my nail salon. I never created the products with the initial incentive to make a profit – just great results, so quality has always come first.
What has been your standout career highlight so far?
There have been so many highlights in my career during its progression over the last few years but some key, stand out moments for me, have been, for one, winning the Scratch Stars Shooting Star award and of course, launching Peacci and The GelBottle Academy. Also, becoming the Official Nail Supplier to London Fashion Week (and the first-ever brand to be selected as an official LFW partner) two seasons in a row was pretty exciting! It’s so hard to pinpoint one highlight when I have loved every minute of this crazy journey!
What is your best advice for those who are thinking of starting up their own beauty business?
If you have a passion for something, work hard and go for it. You have to be unstoppable and truly believe that anything is possible. There is room in the market for everyone and I hope that having two nail polish brands in The GelBottle and Peacci shows that! Be true to yourself – your brand embraces your personality and if you love what you do, your business will be successful because other people will love it just as much as you do! True love and belief in your product will rub off on people, so put out the energy you want to attract.
Be nice, and still be nice when the going gets tough – you gotta keep on going and never ever stop dreaming big!
How have you seen the beauty industry change over the last few years?
Social media has had a huge impact!
It keeps inspiration alive every day, offering more variety and a choice of manicure options that, previously, clients weren’t ever exposed to. When I first started in the industry, clients would only choose from colours provided to them by their nail tech. Now, people search on Instagram before their appointments and have limitless options as to the inspiration they’ll receive and then request at their next nail appointment.
This means salons are facing increasing pressure to provide a larger variety of different products and nail art skills – if a customer comes in, bringing inspiration from Instagram and we can’t provide the look they want, they could leave disappointed, so Instagram has definitely meant that salons in the industry always have to stay ahead of the trends and on top of their education to ensure their nail art skills and trend predictions are at the top of their gain and always current.
How do you think social media has affected the landscape for beauty brands?
Social media has allowed us as a brand to be more expressive about who we are and what we do, it’s a whole platform to allow us to build our brand image in an organic manner, so our customers can really “get to know us”. It allows us to showcase our creativity and it makes it so much easier to share our ideas and really focus on getting to know our customers and what they feel, want and demand. We’ve joked before that it is our customers who design our collections, not us, as we read so many comments online regarding their feedback and what they want from us as a brand and product developer.
As I mentioned above, social media has created a platform for limitless inspiration, which means that trends change at a much faster pace. It’s our responsibility to stay ahead of the game and provide products to enable people to create all the looks they could possibly dream of, whatever their style! Social media has definitely sped up how quickly trends change so it puts pressure on keeping up with that in the most sustainable way possible.
Another huge change it has brought about is the influencer effect! We were really lucky to be featured by some amazing celebrities early on, completely organically, I think because we have so many colours and pigments so it’s perfect for matching to outfits and getting reliable results! But, previous to social media it would have cost huge amounts of money to make this celebrity the face of the brand, in order to let people know about it, and it would remove the organic element from the process.
Now, we can just share it on social media, which is really exciting for our customers. It allows the product to grow and continue to be used by more and more influencers around the world. I’m Kardashian obsessed, so I still remember it being such a big deal the first time we were used by Khloe Kardashian – now all of the Kar-Jenner sisters have worn The GelBottle so many times and social media makes it so easy to share their looks and inspire our customers in just one click.
What is next for your career through 2020 and beyond?
I try not to plan too far ahead, because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far, it’s that things always change! However, I’m constantly looking to grow the The GelBottle and Peacci brands, whether that’s by developing new products, new colours, hosting events or contributing to charities. I also hope to continue growing the The GelBottle Academy to worldwide locations, as we started rolling out international locations in 2019 – so really, it’s onwards and upwards every single day.
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