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Who is nkd?

Never heard of nkd before or not sure what we stand for?

Founded in 2009 by Rebecca Dowdeswell, the original nkd ( ) salons had a mission to provide high-quality facial, body & bikini waxing treatments to everyone in a professional and clean environment. nkd has always had a particular expertise in the delicate art of male and female intimate waxing.

Over the years, the company has evolved but our passion for waxing remains! Along with our award-winning salon business, nkd also offers specialist wax training and business coaching for other salons and therapists who want to make their wax offering as successful as we have made ours. We’ve also developed a range of essential waxing and hair removal aftercare products, which we sell under the (nkd) brand.

Hair Removal Aftercare Products for All Over
Wherever you choose to remove your hair from, and however you choose to remove it, (nkd)’s range of luxurious aftercare products will leave you & your skin feeling amazing. All Over.
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Hair Removal Aftercare Products for Everyone
We don’t care who you are, how you identify, to what extent you remove your hair or how you choose to remove it. We just want to provide great products which help you feel better about yourself after all forms of hair removal.
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So why do we love waxing so much? Quite simply, because we’ve seen from our many tens of thousands of clients over the years how much inner confidence a fantastic wax, carried out by a compassionate, caring, and expert waxing therapist can give someone. And if you think that’s a ridiculous statement, then we’re assuming you’ve never had an nkd wax before!

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 taken off, then have it all off. Or if you want to keep most of it on and just have a little tidy up around the sides, that’s cool too.

If you like your legs hairy and your underarms smooth, that’s your prerogative, and if you’ve got no problem with your hairy moustache and chin but want lashes & brows to die for, that’s what we’ll strive to provide.

But 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. As we always say, we just want to help you feel great about yourself, through the treatments we offer in our salons and the homecare products that carry the (nkd) name.

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 and see how it all began…

The Journey So Far

Rebecca Dowdeswell

After studying European Languages & Business at University, 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!)

The Brazilian Wax Gains Global Notoriety

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!)

Experiencing A New Type Of Beauty Business In Asia

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!

The Global Credit Crunch Hits

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.

nkd ( ) Is Born!

In 2009, a full decade after Rebecca had experienced her first Brazilian wax (and the year she got married and fell pregnant with her son), 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:

  1. To create a contemporary and desirable beauty services brand primarily targeted at under 35s (as the trend for intimate waxing has grown since then, so has nkd’s target demographic!)
  2. To address the growing need for male & female advanced waxing services
  3. To adhere to the highest professional standards while retaining a sense of humour about the business we’re in
  4. To establish a national chain of premium waxing salons offering a quick and efficient service without ever compromising quality.

The national chain of salons obviously never happened but we’re proud to say that we’ve stuck pretty close to the rest of the vision over the last decade and a half!

The Business Enjoys Rapid Growth and Expansion

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.

nkd Wins Small Business Of The Year

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).

nkd Grows Up in Nottingham!

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.

nkd Nottingham Named Best Large Beauty Salon In The Midlands

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.

nkd Leicester is Launched

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.

nkd Leicester Hailed Best Boutique Beauty Salon In The Midlands

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.

nkd Celebrates 10 Years of Trading and Starts to Give Back

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.

The Nightmare That Is Coronavirus Hits

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!

The (nkd) Essential Waxing Aftercare Product Range is Launched

In 2022, we decided to put almost a decade and a half’s worth of waxing expertise and experience to good use and create our very own range of post waxing and hair removal essential aftercare products, which also seemed a natural and obvious extension to the nkd brand.

Having always questioned why so many beauty products needed to be targeted at a specific gender or lifestyle choice and in line with the ethos we’d always held in our salons, it was important to us to develop a range that could be used by everyone. So now, wherever you choose to remove your hair from, and however you choose to remove it, (nkd)’s range of luxurious waxing and hair removal aftercare products will leave you and your skin feeling amazing.

Our products can be purchased here.

A sad and difficult year for nkd

Unfortunately, outside of the positivity generated by the launch of our brand new essential waxing aftercare product range, 2022 and 2023 ended up being immensely difficult years for the nkd ( ) salons. Like so many businesses, it proved extremely difficult for the salons to rebuild after covid (just because the lockdowns ended in April 2021, that certainly didn’t mean that the business / staffing / emotional nightmares also ended there).

During this time, it became clear to Rebecca that the industry, the operating environment, the wants and needs of its staff and many other factors had been irreversibly changed by the pandemic, and so the nkd business needed to change as well.

With some major business expense and stress going on behind the scenes (which we didn’t go public with until 2024), some very major and very difficult decisions had to be made in 2023. At the end of the year, just as nkd ( ) Nottingham had entered its 15th year of trading, the incredibly painful decision was made by Rebecca to close her flagship nkd ( ) Nottingham city centre salon, on Pelham Street.

Because nkd's worth it too

In 2024, Rebecca finally decided to go public with the issue which had been causing her such enormous business, financial and personal stress behind the scenes for the previous 2 years and which ultimately had been a major contributing factor in the decision to close the previously thriving and successful Nottingham salon.

Rebecca revealed how she had been locked in a protracted and financially-draining trademark dispute since 2022, after the world’s largest cosmetics and personal care company – L’Oreal – had not only opposed the re-registration of the nkd ( ) trademarks but also wanted Rebecca to stop using the nkd name altogether across both the salons and the products because of an alleged infringement of L’Oreal’s NAKED trademark (which it applies to some soon-to-be-discontinued eyeshadow palettes and a handful of other make-up items under the Urban Decay make up brand).

See Why the nkd Team is the Best in the Business for Your Waxing, Lash & Brow Needs

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.

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