Founded in 2009 by Rebecca Dowdeswell, nkd ( ) has a mission to provide high-quality facial, body & bikini waxing treatments to everyone in a professional and clean environment. nkd has a particular expertise in the delicate art of male and female intimate waxing and also offers other specialist treatments such as HD Brows, Brow Lamination, Lash Lifting and facial and eyebrow threading from our in-house lash & brow bars.
So why do we do what we do? Simply because we want to give you the confidence that comes from looking and feeling your very best.
And why should you wax, you may well ask? There is only ever one answer to that, which is that it’s your body and you can wax if you want to! If you want it all off, we’ll take it all off. If you want to keep it all on and just have a little tidy up around the sides, that’s cool with us too.
If you like your legs hairy and your underarms smooth, we can do that and if you’ve got no problem with your hairy moustache but want lashes & brows to die for, that’s what we will happily provide.
So whatever you have – or haven’t got – going on down there – or anywhere else – and whatever shape, size, gender or type you are, rest assured that no one at nkd will ever judge, balk or be fazed. All we want, when all said and done, is to help make you feel better about yourself.
So now you know a bit more about who nkd is and why we do what we do, read on to discover Rebecca’s story to understand
how it all began….
After graduating from University with a degree in European Languages & Business, Rebecca spent the late 90s living abroad. This included Piedmont, in Northern Italy to perfect her Italian, Barcelona, Spain to learn Spanish, and Fortaleza, in northeastern Brazil to work for the British Council and study Portuguese.
Aged 24, Rebecca saw in Millennium Eve partying on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro with 4 million (!) other partygoers! It was around this time that she also discovered the Brazilian Wax and experienced advanced waxing at its best (anyone who’s ever spent any time on a Brazilian beach and has seen the “fio dental” (dental floss) bikinis favoured by Brazilian women will immediately understand why the Brazilian wax absolutely needed to be invented!)
Having moved back to the UK at the start of the new Millennium, Rebecca was surprised how hard it was to find a decent Brazilian wax in this country. At that time, Brazilian waxes were still very much an emerging trend outside of Brazil. (Fun fact – the now famous “Sex and the City” episode which featured Carrie Bradshaw talking about her first Brazilian wax was actually aired in the year 2000, which is how this type of waxing first came onto the radar of millions of women around the world.)
It was almost impossible to find any salons or therapists offering this type of waxing in the UK at that time. If you could find it, therapists tended to be self-taught with poor technique. Even worse was the sense of embarrassment they clearly felt, which made the treatment excruciating in all senses for both therapist and client!
Although Rebecca could see this gap in the UK beauty market, with no interest or experience in the beauty industry, she thought no more of it, and instead embarked on her new career as a business journalist and analyst, later going onto specialise in writing about the automotive industry (i.e. the business of cars, trucks and components!)
By 2007, Rebecca was working for the Swedish car company Saab, where she learnt all about the importance of great marketing, branding and brand loyalty. While on holiday in Singapore and Vietnam, she experienced a new kind of beauty business, which was totally different from any salon she’d seen in the UK before. These were chains of waxing-specific salons which a) focused on the delicate art of intimate waxing, b) were upfront and proud of their specialisation and c) catered to men and women who wanted an excellent service, but wanted it quickly.
These modern, urban salons struck Rebecca as such an exciting and fresh concept, being so totally different to the generic and bland beauty salons that still totally dominated the UK and which still very much catered towards women who had all the time in the world to pamper themselves! However, it still didn’t occur to Rebecca that this could be her calling!
In 2008, the global credit crunch hit, and the automotive industry was extremely badly affected. By that time, Rebecca was a freelance writer and almost overnight, most of her journalism work disappeared, which turned out to be her now or never moment.
While pondering her options, Rebecca realised that the idea of a specialist waxing salon had never really gone away. Rebecca did some research and quickly saw that the UK beauty industry was specialising and fragmenting. I.e. tanning salons and nail bars were starting to pop up all over the place, indicating that UK consumers were beginning to look for specialist beauty technicians, instead of generalist “jack of all trade but master of none” salons. Rebecca also looked to North America and Asia for emerging trends and identified the rapid emergence of specialist waxing salons in those regions and so the decision was finally made.
In 2009, a full decade after Rebecca had experienced her first Brazilian wax (and the year in which she married her husband Guy), nkd ( ) Nottingham was finally launched. Starting life in a tiny ground floor unit in Bridlesmith Walk in Nottingham city centre, Rebecca was crystal clear about the vision for her new brand. nkd ( ) had been established with four key purposes:
Notwithstanding a few tweaks (e.g. the addition of lashes & brows as a natural extension to our treatment line-up), to
this day, nkd still sticks incredibly close to that original vision.
The next few years turned out to be pretty busy for Rebecca and nkd!
In 2010 (6 months after nkd Notts opened), Rebecca’s son was born.
In 2012, nkd was chosen to house the first specialist waxing concession in a House of Fraser department store. Unfortunately the location offered by House of Fraser was its beautiful Glasgow store, which turned out to be too logistically difficult for the business to cope with, at that stage in its life. Rebecca took the difficult decision to close nkd ( ) Glasgow after 18 months.
Also in 2012, nkd was named as the Flagship UK Salon Group for the Paris-France-based brand of wax, Perron Rigot – an association that still continues now. nkd is extremely proud of its long-standing and close relationship with the globally-renowned Perron Rigot.
In 2013, nkd launched the Training School side of its business, also endorsed by Perron Rigot. nkd ( ) the Waxing & Beauty School teaches other beauty therapists and salon owners from all over the UK how to wax like the experts do.
2014 was another busy year, being the year that Rebecca’s daughter was born and when nkd was named “Small Business of the Year” in the Nottingham Post Women in Business Awards (which turned out to the first of several fantastic award wins).
In 2015, 5 ½ years after opening in Bridlesmith Walk, nkd Nottingham moved to its current home of 27 Pelham Street, in search of more space. Spanning 3 floors, the move gave us 4 larger treatment rooms and 4 Lash & Bars and a far more prominent location at the junction of where Nottingham city centre meets Hockley.
2015 was also another fantastic year for award recognition. In that year, we won “Team of the Year” in the Chamber of Commerce’s Enterprising Women and Integra Inspire Awards, the salon was shortlisted as a finalist in Nottingham’s Favourite Independent Business Awards and Rebecca came Runner Up in the “Entrepreneur of the Year” category of the Nottingham Post Women in Business Awards.
2016 was the year that nkd Nottingham was named “Best Large Beauty Salon in the Midlands” in the first ever Professional Beauty Regional Awards, after a rigorous application and mystery-shopping process. We were also one of three Finalists in the “Retail Business of the Year” in the Nottingham Post Business Awards.
In October 2017, nkd was thrilled and excited to open its stunning Leicester salon in the beautiful St Martins’ Square area of Leicester city centre. Also spanning three floors, the plan is for nkd Leicester to eventually house 5 treatment rooms and 2 Lash & Brow Bars.
After less than a year of trading, nkd Leicester was named “Best Boutique Beauty Salon in the Midlands” in the Professional Beauty Regional Awards. Like nkd Nottingham’s success in the same awards two years earlier, this win followed a rigorous application, interview and mystery shop process.
Phew! After a very busy decade, nkd ends 2019 on
a high, celebrating 10 years of trading and lots of business growth and success in that time. The business was on a real high at that time, including loads of planning for the next exciting decade that was to come.
2019 was also the year that nkd became part of the B1G1 Business for Good community. This global business giving initiative aims to create a world full of giving, and works on the basis that if every business transaction that took place – whether this be having a leg wax or buying a cup of coffee – were to trigger something good happening somewhere else in the world, the world would be a better place.
After a hugely positive start to 2020, the Covid nightmare of course began. Beauty salons were widely recognised as one of the hardest hit industries throughout the pandemic in the UK, causing many salons to fold and thousands of beauty therapists to walk away from the industry that had previously been their life. 15 months of stop-and-start trading ensued, involving more business and staff crises than anyone not heavily involved with the business could ever imagine.
Throughout the extended and repeated closures, Rebecca took the opportunity to start writing to her clients in a personal and non-corporate way. The reaction to her open and honest newsletters, which documented some of the difficulties the business was experiencing alongside personal musings, was truly heartwarming, and provided a lot of much-needed emotional support, for both clients and Rebecca, it turned out!
After years of working with some amazing suppliers to provide the best aftercare products for our clients we decided to put our expertise and experience to good use and create our very own range of post waxing and hair removal products, which also seemed a natural and obvious extension to the nkd brand.
Our flagship products are three of the best-selling – and essential products – that every waxing newbie or waxing devotee needs to keep their skin in tip top condition. Our first range features a cleansing body wash, exfoliating body scrub and soothing body balm, all in a cooling and refreshing mint and cucumber scent.
On sale from December 2022. Watch this space for an expansion of the range to bring even more fabulous nkd products to our customers.
After 18 – 24 months of utter turmoil (just because the lockdowns ended in April 2021, that certainly didn’t mean that the business / staffing / emotional nightmares also ended there), nkd is now rebuilding. Have we come out stronger from what we’ve been through? It’s too early to tell but one thing is clear to Rebecca and that is that the industry, the operating environment, and most of all the wants and needs of its staff, are all vastly changed from what they were pre-pandemic. What does this mean for nkd?
It means that we will evolve, as we need to, in coming months and years. Changes could be afoot….
So watch this space!
nkd is extremely proud to be the flagship UK Salon Group for Perron Rigot waxes. Owned by the French cosmetics house Thalgo and headquartered in Paris, Perron Rigot has almost 40 years’ expertise in depilatory waxing products and more than 20 patents to its name.