WAH Nails debuts London's new girl gang

The hip-hop zine turned nail empire: Sharmadean Reid on supporting girls with attitude, 90s anthems and her plans to be the next Oprah – see WAH's new video exclusively here

WAH Nails may have started as a hip-hop zine, but Wolverhampton-born founder Sharmadean Reid is at the helm of an expanding empire. For Reid, WAH Nails is more than just a nail salon. Originally created as a place for girls to hang out, it was through their Dalston salon that Bleach London found their footing – setting up two chairs in the studio. Having recently launched WAH London – a line of polishes, nail wraps and press-ons – Reid called in Dazed contributor Mollie Mills to create a new video starring her chosen crop of next gen London talent to celebrate the launch of their Ultimate Nail Art Kit for Christmas. Below, Reid talks girl power, Instagram stalking and what's next for WAH.

Where did you find the girls for the film?

Sharmadean Reid: I found them through stalking a mix of girls who had been to the salon who I just thought had a vibe, some friends of friends and of course on Instagram. I usually just see a girl and I know whether or not she's going to be interesting. I've only been disappointed a few times!

What, in your mind, makes them the next gen of London talent?

Sharmadean Reid: They are creating a specific vision, following their own taste, or just doing their own thing. Lotte Andersen does a brill radio show with her BFF Phoebe Collings-James. It's almost like they're aware of their good fortune of great looks, style and sassiness and they're not at all ashamed of it. Plus they play the absolute best tunes. [Photographer] Charlotte Rutherford is someone we've done nails for, her photographs and aesthetic are totally part of a new super girly movement. And take Zaina [Muccia]…I've never met anyone like her, she's actually like a phenomenon. I chose her not because of a particular skill, but because she is just fabulous. 

What kind of girl do you create products for?

Sharmadean Reid: Girls with taste and attitude. All that sets them apart is that they do their own thing. I make products that aren't necessarily going to be mainstream but will at least appeal to the one girl of the gang who has something going on…Hopefully her friends will check her out and follow her lead.

What were your references for the film?

Sharmadean Reid:  I was totally obsessed with Lady Miss Kier. I wanted to do that kind of 60s/70s through a 90s/2014 lens. The hair and make up aren't particularly on trend right now but I wanted something that was totally like party girl glam. I was imagining all these girls getting ready for Christmas parties together and just fluffing it up. 

What was it like working with Mollie Mills?

Sharmadean Reid: I've known Mollie since she was a WAH baby hanging out at the salon. I've watched her blossom into a real creative and love her work and her ideas. I just think she produces really good quality film and essentially makes moving picture portraits of the subjects that she's into. I'm always about supporting young girls and getting them involved in whatever I'm working on in some type of way. The best thing about having a business is being able to give people jobs.

How would you define the spirit of WAH?

Sharmadean Reid: Just following your own path. The difference between one girl and the next is one will lead, the other will follow.       

How do you next plan to expand the WAH empire?

Sharmadean Reid: I'm working on an incredible brand new salon that will fuse beauty and technology in a service space in a way thats never been seen before, and maybe starting a TV show so I can be like Oprah.

Girl power underpins a lot of what WAH does – what’s your favourite girl power anthem?

Sharmadean Reid: I've moved back to my hometown of Wolverhampton so I'm kind of waking up and putting on pop punk and grunge to relive my youth…so perhaps No Doubt “I'm Just A Girl”.

Video featuring Lotte Andersen, Savannah Baker, Zaina Muccia, Lauren Michelle Pires, Amanda Robertson, Sue Park, Charlotte Rutherford and Jess Cruz

WAH London's Ultimate Nail Art Kit is available online and in Boots stores now