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Nails. INC: Painting a Dream

Breaking down how nail polish has become a platform for creative licensing campaigns with Thea Green, founder and chief executive officer, Nails. INC, and how she hopes to expand her existing collaborations.

McKenna Morgan

February 12, 2024

5 Min Read
Nails. INC collaborations include La Dolce Velveeta nail polish; Froot Loops nail polish and Percy Pig.
Nails. INC collaborations include La Dolce Velveeta nail polish; Froot Loops nail polish and Percy Pig.Nails. INC

At a Glance

  • Thea Green of Nails. INC discusses how partnerships lead the way for the beauty brand.
  • Interesting collabs surprise-and-delight customers, such as with Velveeta.
  • Beauty brands are integral to customers' self-expression.

Beauty, wellness and cosmetics are rapidly growing markets of interest and investment for brands worldwide. Beauty is intrinsically linked with identity, creativity and confidence, enhancing the connection between brands and fans. Brand licensing, after all, is built on the emotional connection between fans and brands. Thea Green, founder, chief executive officer, Nails. INC, has capitalized on this growth and connection by expanding Nails. INC’s licensed offerings. The brand has been in business for nearly a quarter of a century, and Green sees the brand’s commitment to innovation as a stepping stone for additional growth.

“I started the brand to bring nail services and products to the masses – that simply wasn’t avail-able in the U.K. back then,” says Green. “The brand started with both a retail and service proposition focusing on being British and a fashion-forward nail brand – and I think those still sit at the brand’s foundation today despite us now being a globally recognized brand. I think Nails. INC is a go-to brand, as we are always at the forefront of innovation and bringing key trending fashion colors to the market ahead of the curve.”

Thea Green, Nails. INC

The Shape of Nails in Retail

Being cutting-edge has allowed the brand to make a mark in retail via Selfridges London, where it is not only the only nail brand there but also has a Nails. INC nail bar, allowing shoppers to have an experiential element that drives sales. Another key retailer in the area is Marks and Spencer. Both retail partnerships have allowed Nails. INC to meet its consumers where they are and highlight its licensed collaborations, like the recent partnership with candy brand, Percy Pig, at the retailer.

“We are very fortunate in the U.K. that we are the only nail brand in Selfridges London, and we bring that to life with our destination nail bar,” continues Green. “We can use that space to speak to our Nails. INC customer. Last year, during our Froot Loops cereal collab, we took over the space with cobranded cereal boxes, bringing the collection to life. Towards the end of last year, we launched the Percy Pig collab exclusively in Marks and Spencer stores nationwide. For this, we created a pop-up nail bar in the Marks and Spencer Head Office to bring the first Percy Pig collab to the staff of M&S.”

These collaborations, Green says, are both a strength and a priority for the brand.

“I think in the realms of collabs, we can move incredibly quickly,” says Green. “In the beginning of 2022, the Percy Pig collaboration hadn’t even been discussed, and by Q4, it was a live product on the shelf. Personally speaking, Nails. INC delivers collabs very strongly – we take both brands’ DNA and bring one truly collaborative product to market. Beauty collabs are so attractive to buyers as often it’s a meaningful way to buy into a product or franchise and get back something with added value. It’s also a way of showing attachment to a tribe, and for many brands where product can be cost-prohibi-tive to more of a mass customer, a beauty collab offers that customer a way to support.”

Nails. INC x White Claw’s The Claw Saver Set.

Nail Collaborations as Self-Expression

Added value is part of what makes licensed consumer products so successful, and Nails. INC has selected partners that add novelty and fun to the experience of nail painting.

“We are constantly looking at ways to surprise and delight our customers,” says Green. “There are collaborations and brands that are meaningful to our customers, potentially, a collaboration wouldn’t bring them that much-added value to the product. A great example is our Velveeta collaboration – people would probably have expected our biggest collaboration of 2022 to be fashion. Still, our biggest collab in terms of impact and sales was this cheese-scented duo that went wild.”

These novel products feed into the power of social media and influencer marketing, a trend in the beauty industry that Green says helps sell licensed collaborations, including branded nail tools and stickers.

“Social media has brought nail art back into the forefront of nails and beauty, and that has opened up for us to be more creative and direct with product collaborations,” says Green. “With nail stickers and mani markers, you can adopt a brand’s identity and transfer it onto your nails.”

As for growth plans and brand development, Green sees licensing playing a larger role in the future of Nails. INC as both the brand and beauty sector grow. Sister brands, INC.redible Cosmetics and Holler and Glow, hope to lean into beauty trends and grow their licensing portfolios.

“We are looking to explore collaborations within our sister brands covering a wider selection of not just nails, but bath and body as well as printed sheet masking, of which we have a phenomenal business both in the U.S. and U.K.,” says Green.

Nails. INC and its sister brands hope to work with what Green calls a “dream list” of clients, some of which have already been released or are in development.

“We have a hit list of dream brands, and we have been very fortunate as a lot of them have come to us,” adds Green. “In other instances, it can be a partnership that we haven’t thought of. However, the brand has such a robust and well-thought-through support-marketing campaign that we relish the idea of working together as a team to deliver a great 360 campaign across both brands – speaking to both consumers. You can see that more recently illustrated through our collaboration in the U.S. with White Claw.”

With a more than 20-year history, a solid experiential edge to its retail offering and a deep understanding of licensing, Nails. INC’s growth is set to continue to trend upward. Nail polish may be seen as a finishing touch to a look, but don’t count it out as a major revenue driver and point of interest to consumers. Nails. INC is proof of that.

This article was taken from February's issue of License Global.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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