When it comes to following inspirational female entrepreneurs in Scotland, you won't get far without coming across the name Tammy Koslowski. A force to be reckoned with, she has built her beauty brand NAF into cult status with the help from her friendly neighborhood girl gang. From humble beginnings as a nail cal master, Tammy launched NAF Salontwo years ago and Glasgow's mani's have never been the same. Now expanding the NAF brand into merchandise including a line of delicious cuticle oils, t-shirts and pin badges, Tammy is a complete BOSS who proves you can do anything you set your mind to. Here's just a glimpse into an average day in the life of the sass palace creator herself.
Building an empire, it's hard to pin point your job title. What would you say you do?
On paper I am the Director of Nails and Face Ltd but IRL I own and run NAF! Salon and design & distribute our own range of products under the name NAF! Stuff.
We've loved watching NAF salon grow, can you go into what you get up to?
Oh that's difficult! I do a lot of things. In very, verrry simple terms I make sure that NAF! Salon, staff, services and products are high quality, safe, stay true to the brand and provide value for people's hard earned cash. I'm a nail technician by trade with a penchant for branding and I also work as a freelance session manicurist on the side and have worked on campaigns for clients like Stella McCartney shoots for W Magazine, runway for Pam Hogg & Issey Miyake and VIP events for luxury brands like Chanel & Harrods.
How did you get into this business?
I discovered my love for nail art around 6 years ago when I was in my final year at university. I studied Clothing Design & Technology but spent a lot of time getting distracted by the likes of WAH Nails & Sophy Robson on tumblr and making my own little tutorials.
I turned it from a hobby into a business by hosting pop-up nails bars in my hometown Stirling, Glasgow and London and hand painting false nails and selling them online. I officially started my company (DIY Nails) in 2013 and designed and produced nail art decals that were sold in places like Urban Outfitters and ASOS! I ended up feeling really creatively stifled after two years, missed doing nails and had always seen a gap in the market for a trend-led salon in Glasgow that really cared about its clients nails so I threw caution to the wind and NAF! salon was born!
If you weren't doing this, what do you think you'd be doing?
I studied Clothing Design and Technology at college/uni, worked in fashion retail/visual merchandising for a long time and really wanted to work for a magazine so I'd definitely still be doing something creative or fashion related. Failing that I'd be walking dogs for a living, I love dogs and being outside so it's a combination of my two favourite things.
Do you have a life motto / mantra?
BE KIND! So much so that I have to tattooed on my leg to remind myself! It's hard sometimes but I think you need to be an empathetic person when you work in a client focused industry that relies on high staff numbers and networking for success.
Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?
I'd love to say I have my shit together and a solid routine but the nature of my job means I have to deal with salon life in salon hours, so that's anywhere between 9am and 8pm Tuesday - Saturday and any other admin/product related work or personal projects out with those times.
I usually wake up around 7am and the first thing I do is check my phone for texts or emails relating to that day, our biggest challenge is absences in the salon. Our nail technicians work very closely to people all day and even though we sanitise everything and take all the precautions we can, sickness spreads like wildfire. We are always fully booked but don't want to cancel anyone's appointments so it takes a lot of work, problem solving and phonecalls to make sure the day runs smoothly and our staff and clients are happy and not rushed. Luckily the Salon Manager and Front Of House are badasses with the booking system so they've got it down to a fine art, I just offer my support these days.
I usually get into the salon for around 9:30 to catch up with the Management team and have some down-time and a cup of tea with the Nail Techs before clients come in for the first appointments at 10am. The rest of the day is spent doing a multitude of things like working on solutions for issues that the management team have raised relating to clients, website customers or staff and advising the best way to move forward, working with brands to organise events and promotions, developing our range of products and dealing with suppliers & logistics to make them a reality, liaising with wholesale clients from our website retail buyers for our products, fulfilling website, wholesale and retail orders, packaging & stickering products, working on social strategies and content with staff and freelancers, interviewing and trade testing potential new team members, chatting to regulars/new clients and having a look at what everyone is getting done to their nails that day and sometimes even doing nails!! On a Monday I work from home and do admin all day and on a Friday we start work an hour early for team meetings or training.
How do you keep yourself organised?
Woah, ok, prepare yourself. I wouldn't say I was the most organised person in the world and I do forget a LOT of stuff and leave quite an it to the last second but it makes sense when you see my workload. I need lists upon lists upon lists to prioritise what needs to be done and the Salon Manager, Daisy, is very organised by nature so she keeps me on the right track when life gets too hectic. I'll normally blurt out 5 things I have scheduled or need help with and forget about them instantly but she'll always do what she can to help on top of her responsibilities and keep me on track like "Remember you have an event tomorrow!" or "You've not eaten all day, get some food".
I have my Google Calendar which I use to mark out the times I'm in the salon and days I have personal things planned, I also use it to set reminders about meetings and deadlines so I can prep properly but schedule all my meetings on our booking system so I can use the app on my phone to see if I have any regular nail clients in or events/meetings in and outwith the salon.
I have a notebook that I scrawl all my thoughts and daily tasks lists into as well as design ideas but use a task management website, Da Pulse, to communicate with Daisy, the Front Of House, Social Media and Freelancers. It's great because you can make boards and lists with tasks, deadlines and tick boxes and I'll get email notifications when someone checks off a task I've assigned. It also means that people can assign me tasks or we can delegate them between us very easily.
How do you keep yourself going through a humpday?
I think any business owner will tell you there's humpdays, hours, weeks and months but the drive to succeed and your passion will pull you through all of that. Short-term I need to vent. I talk about what's making me feel down to whoever knows he situation and can offer advice. Usually it's my flatmate, boyfriend and friends for personal things, Daisy and my amazing business mentors Sheila and Kerri-Anne (of Peaches Wax Bar) for salon issues and the amazing WE Mean Business Network on Facebook (headed up by Girlboss Laura from Habiib Home or my friend Toni (check her Day In The Life https://www.fashionfixdaily.com/day-in-the-life-of-prop-designer-toni/) for business related problems. Talking always revitalises me and makes me feel like I can move forward.
Longer term I need a bit of down time away from the salon so I can rest my mind and think about things objectively without being in the thick of it. I'm still mastering the art of work/life balance but I've always found solutions to long term problems after freeing my mind a bit.
What time do you finish?
In all honesty I only finish when I go to sleep Monday-Friday and when the salon shuts at 5pm on a Saturday!
Biggest misconception about the job you do?
I think a lot of people think I still do nails 24/7 or book appointments, hopefully after reading this they won't! I do the odd appointment with my regular clients and friends and if I'm in the salon and don't have too much to do then I'll help with tight bookings or nail art but my mind is always racing so I find it really hard to give any conversation 100% of my attention at times which isn't very fair. It makes me sad because I really, really love doing nails and chatting away to people but my time is needed elsewhere.
Another misconception in business terms is the roadblock I repeatedly face when applying for funding/awards/planning permission/government schemes.
Before I get a chance to explain what we do I get told "Oh a nail salon? Beauty isn't creative industry". I call bullshit on that and I'm making it a goal of mine to change the way we are treated in that sense. I'm always like "I hire 12 skilled and artistic people on Glasgow Living Wage and have given countless people the platform to go self employed from here. I design our website/graphics/socials, design & produce a successful range of cosmetics and frequently collaborate with local talent and businesses to do all this" and they can't see past the "vanity" factor of the industry.
How do you wind down?
I've recently started watching Game Of Thrones which is great because I'm on my phone 24/7 and find it hard to switch off so watching something intense like that means I hide it away and give it all my attention! I love food so make plans to go for dinner with my friends as much as possible and I love, love, love sitting on the couch with my flatmate Justine and watching TV. My ultimate favourite thing to do is go big long walks with my boyfriend, Barny and my dog Betty though. There's nothing better than being outside for a few hours in the fresh air, clambering up hills, climbing trees and running about adventuring to make you forget everything!
What's your favourite thing about what you do?
I love the being creative, spending time with fun & inspiring people and having a platform to test new ideas. I've created an environment where that happens in many different forms and couldn't be more proud of NAF!.
Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I have learned a whole lot and this could. E a lot of info.but three things I would always advise are:
- Believe in yourself and make sure you work on your strengths and hire or outsource someone to support your weaknesses
- There is no shortcut. Don't try to cut corners or avoid important issues, they will come back to bite you in the ass
- Do YOU! You need a business strategy but pay no mind to the superficial & social quirks that work for other people. Your voice and passion are the only thing that will make you stand out in any saturated market and you need to carve out your own place in the world and be genuine for people to trust you with their hard earned cash