Sharmadean Reid knows a good thing when she sees one. The London-based stylist and businesswoman has a habit of spotting (and even starting) trends early, from Nike pool slides to tie-dye Proenza Schouler tees. Back in 2008 she was one of the first people to bring fashion-forward nail art to the mainstream in the form of her hip London salon WAH Nails, and she’s been spreading the WAH way of life ever since. In her new book The WAH Nails Book of Downtown Girls, Sharma lifts the lid on her unique brand of style and success with a little help from a worldwide crew of girls. Our contributor Phoebe Lovatt spoke to her to find out more.
Your new book is titled The WAH Nails Book of Downtown Girls. What defines a ‘downtown girl’ for you?
A girl who is classy but street—someone with expensive taste but also an eye for cheap fun. A girl who can wear Céline one day and then Nike the next. But above all it’s just a sassy attitude and a knowing self confidence.
How does the new book differ from your previous release, ‘The WAH Nails Book of Nail Art’?
This book features interviews with some amazing girls around the globe who talk about how they got to where they are. Whereas the first one was just nail tutorials, this one had tidbits of advice for the burgeoning young career girl. I think the first book was for my 16-year-old self in Wolverhampton, England and this one is for my 18-year-old self who has just moved to London and is thinking: Now what?!
The book features load of great nail art tutorials, of course. What style are you rocking on your own nails right now?
My nails are usually plain. When you have so much choice it’s kinda overwhelming. But I love holographic Swarovski crystals. I usually rock them at the base of my nail following the nail frame.
What do you predict will be the next big nail art trend?
I love artistic, painterly nails. I’d like to see more influenced by artists like Cy Twombly. I love seeing thick strokes of art on colour that you can achieve by removing all polish from the brush and sweeping with the semi-dry remains.
Tell us about some of the cool girls that you’ve featured in the new book, and what readers might hope to learn from them.
I love that most of these girls I’ve known for a long time and we have just grown together in our careers. I remember the first ever ‘Work It’ party happening and now these girls are global. Phoebe, you were actually the first person to tell me about Emily Weiss’ incredible Into The Gloss blog, and her advice on working hard and doing your own thing is so WAH that I couldn’t have written it better myself.
The life advice in the book makes for a very inspiring read. What’s currently inspiring you?
I’m inspired by travelling, by luxury experiences – and that could just be taking the afternoon off to go and walk in the woods. I’m endlessly inspired by Martha Stewart. I’m inspired by the sexy lines of a car because I want one so bad! I’m inspired by food culture and how it crosses borders and brings people together. And women. Lots of women, always.
The girls in the book are an international crew, based everywhere from Los Angeles to NYC to Tokyo. Obviously you’re in London – what’s the best thing about living there?
Walking across the bridges never fails to make me say “Luv u London!” But definitely the rude boys and girls are my favourite thing. Seeing kids do wheelies on Boris bikes blasting music is my fave thing ever.
What’s next for you and for WAH Nails?
I’d love to have my own nail polishes and I’d love to have my own hotel in Jamaica. Watch this space!