Daisy Kalnina is the founder of three businesses – leading salon brand, The GelBottle Inc, nail tech training school, The GelBottle Academy and recently launched polish brand, Peacći.
At the age of seven, Daisy Kalnina was already selling at her local market, but it was at the age of 14 she had her first ‘real’ experience of business, when she ran her mum’s salon after school.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Like many professional nail technicians, I started my career in the spare room of my home. My love of the nail industry started young when I managed my mother’s full-service salon from the age of 15. I’d always been creative, experimenting with colours and developing my own style of abstract paintings at a young age. This blending of art, colour, and technical ability was crucial in my own personal development, not only as a businesswoman but as an artist and innovator in the industry.
My mother convinced me to go after my dreams and to express my inner artist through my passion for the nail industry so I trained as a nail technician and after a few years, I owned a busy salon in Brighton, UK. I realised I wanted a better quality product, one that my customers were proud to wear, so that’s when I started work on creating my own line of gel polish. I took all my learnings as an artist, a nail technician and businesswoman coupled with years of research, to finally release the first-ever GelBottle Inc. collection and as they say, the rest is history!
Fast forward five years and The GelBottle Inc. is now a huge international company! My favourite celebrities are fans of a product I designed and I now have two other brands in the product family: Peacci and The GelBottle Academy. It’s crazy how much we’ve grown, but at the end of the day, I’ll always be the same person: a businesswoman who is OBSESSED with nails, good quality products and making my customers happy.
As Founder & CEO of three companies, I oversee the businesses but focus most on marketing, product development and overall strategy.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I wouldn’t say so much plan but have always had a main goal in mind. Like I mentioned before, my hope has always been to run a successful business that would also be an extension of my creative ambitions. I do take time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished to envision the future. But we all know life sometimes doesn’t always work according to your plan. Staying agile has proven to be the best point of learning for me over the years.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, of course, like anyone. One thing I have learnt along the way is there is no one route to success (which is why staying agile is so important!). And whenever these challenges come by, I’m reminded to reflect on “The Law of Attraction”. I talk about this
all the time and can truly vouch for how it’s significantly impacted my personal and professional lives. I think that, if you really truly want something enough and can train yourself to be sure it will work out in your favour, then it will. You are capable of anything, but, more often than not, overcoming difficulty (and even simply stepping into the unknown) requires jumping in at the deep end. You just have to believe that you can swim and if you can do that, then, you will!
My go-to mantras in challenging moments are: harnessing the power of my thoughts, maintaining a positive mindset and visualising the path to my success.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
There have been so many highlights in my career during its progression over the last few years but some key, stand out moments for me, have been, for one, winning the Scratch Shooting Star 2019 award and of course, launching Peacci and The GelBottle Academy.
A further incredible achievement is our worldwide reach! We ship across the world and have distributors in over 15 countries with even more to join us. I’ve been thrilled to grow my phenomenal #teamTGB to an enormous 100+ people. This includes our core staff, our warehouse team and brand ambassadors, an ever rapidly growing team!
An especially significant moment for me came earlier this year in the height of a global pandemic. We created the Peacci Brand Rep scheme, an aid to support nail technicians whose work had been affected due to the lockdown. The scheme raised an amazing £114,000 in commission and tips!
Another major achievement was becoming the Official Nail Supplier to London Fashion Week (and the first-ever brand to be selected as an official LFW partner) two seasons in a row was pretty exciting! It’s so hard to pinpoint one highlight when I have loved every minute of this almost unreal journey!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Much like “The Law of Attraction” method, I believe staying passionate about your business will help you maintain success. I have been obsessed with my work since even before it really grew! And because of this, I have been driven by that force to seek out new ways to expand, grow and create worthy and recognisable brands.
If I didn’t have this passion, I wouldn’t have the belief that I can accomplish the success I have so far! At the end of the day, as a Founder & CEO, you are the one who will be able to push the business forward. Keep this passion and never let it fade.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I believe mentorship is vital for anyone, in any form that may take. I myself try to attend as many seminars, talks and conferences to learn as much as possible about subjects affecting my industry and the overall business landscape. And although not an exact form of mentorship, I set up The GelBottle (TGB) Academy to act as a point of mentoring for all aspiring nail technicians. For students of the Academy, I have seen how it has opened up the ability to pursue opportunities, tap into resources and has consequently created a feedback loop that is essential for the improvement of the Academy itself and it’s alumni. Every TGB Academy student is supported fully throughout their career and TGB journey. At TGB we are all about lifting others and TGB Academy has this ethos infused within every class.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Definitely more women in C-Suite positions and more investment into female-owned and run businesses. If we can’t change things at the top, there will never be any change for all the young women hoping to be future leaders. I have faced my fair share of challenges being a female CEO but can see the dynamic in my industry gradually changing for the better. We all still have so much work to do!
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Even from an early age, I had a steely determination and always believed that, no matter how life ended up, I was going to end up doing what I loved. So, I would really encourage the younger me to never let the tides of life shake this ambition and to always believe in myself. There is nothing a young mind can’t achieve with self-belief and hard work.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I try not to plan too far ahead because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far, it’s that things always change! (Hello 2020, looking at you!) However, I’m constantly looking to grow The GelBottle and Peacci brands, whether that’s by developing new products, new colours, hosting events or contributing to charities. I also hope to continue growing The GelBottle Academy worldwide — we started rolling out into more international locations in 2019. An added leap of joy for me would be to see over 1 million images using our hashtag #thegelbottleinc across Instagram! Sometimes it’s the small things that will leave the biggest smile! But really, it’s onwards and upwards every single day.
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