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Industry Secrets Unlocked with brand founder Candice Quinn of Manisafe London

Candice Quinn is the Founder of MANISAFE London, a skincare brand for hands offering a multi-award-winning collection of stylish UV protective gloves. Candice is a healthcare professional turned medical device marketing manager turned entrepreneur! Her love for gel manicures, healthy skin and helping others drew her away from a successful corporate career in global medical devices when she saw a need for consumer education and an effective solution for UV protection in gel manicure treatments. 

Candice and I have worked together a couple of times on tech packs and consulting and I am constantly wowed by her enthusiasm and dedication as a brand founder and ambassador for health care within the beauty business. It is no surprise to me that Manisafe has won awards because she has created a much-needed, innovative product but has also made it fun and on-trend with her selection of beautiful prints and elegant colourways. Candice and Manisafe are the perfect examples of starting your business with one great product offering, fine-tuning it and going from there.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Candice Quinn the Founder of MANISAFE London, a skincare brand for hands offering a multi-award-winning collection of stylish UV protective gloves. I’m a healthcare professional turned medical device marketing manager turned entrepreneur! My love for gel manicures, healthy skin and helping others drew me away from my successful corporate career in global medical devices when I saw a need for consumer education and an effective solution for UV protection in gel manicure treatments. 

Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit and a unique approach to business through the lens of evidence-based practice and strict standards from my 15-year career in health care and medical devices, I’m passionate about developing highly effective products that improve hand health.

When I’m not juggling every role of my skincare start-up or volunteering as an ambassador for national skin cancer charity SKCIN, I’m enjoying time with my husband and two young children in North West London.

Why did you decide to set up your business?

I started MANISAFE London from a deep sense of service to help others. Launching a business in the health and beauty industry has allowed me to marry my personal and professional interests.

My passion for health promotion is matched by my obsession with gel manicures. After my first gel manicure in 2012 – it was love at first gloss! From boardroom meetings to motherhood, it became a mainstay in my beauty routine. However, years later my shocking realisation that nail lamps emit harmful UV rays to cure gel polish is what inspired my business. Knowing unprotected UV exposure is the number one cause of skin damage leading to premature ageing and skin cancer, I was concerned about my skin health and upset the nail salons did not inform me.

I delved into the scientific literature and consulted thought leaders in dermatological sciences to confirm repetitive unprotected use of nail lamps can pose a risk to our skin health.

Determined to make gel manicures safer for my skin I tried applying sunscreen, but often failed to apply it in time to be effective and it can cause the gel polish to lift. One day while watching my children in their splash pool donning their UPF 50+ sunsuits, I had an Aha! moment – I could make gloves from the same certified material to protect my hands in the lamp!

As this product idea brewed, I wanted to understand how many others had been left in the dark about these risks. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot!  I anonymously surveyed over 300 UK female nail care enthusiasts and 65% of them were not aware of the risks or that UV rays were emitted from the lamps. This was the final driver to start MANISAFE. Particularly because there is no official public health guidance for this in the UK and the unregulated nail lamp industry still touts that nail lamps are completely safe. I launched MANISAFE in April 2021

What drew you to this field?

It was the Aha moment I mentioned above that drew me to the fashion and textiles industry. With a background in healthcare and medical devices, I was entering unchartered territories manufacturing gloves but fuelled with purpose I was up for the challenge.

What has been the biggest challenge setting up your business?

Finding a reliable manufacturer to produce my designs. This really is an industry where ‘who you know’ matters. So not having any connections to the industry has required a lot of desk research and picking people’s brains to try to find the right manufacturer.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by the positive impact my business has on people’s health. I’m passionate about educating people on UV protection and providing them with a solution to effectively protect their hands as they do their faces on a daily basis. I get messages of gratitude from customers saying they feel safer using nail lamps now and also customers with skin conditions saying they are so happy to have a stylish solution to protect their hands from the sun.

Who do you admire within your industry or as a business role model?

Oh, that’s a tough one! I would have to say, Caroline Hirons. She is unapologetically herself and is a hard worker with high standards and holds people accountable. She has built a highly successful skincare business in a very clever way based on trust and sticking to what she believes in. 

How do you deal with stress and big challenges?

When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I narrow my focus to what’s within my control in my personal life and within the business. I ensure I fit in a morning workout as that has always been my outlet for stress. As for work, I will highlight a few achievable business tasks per day rather than looking at my never-ending to-do list. I find this helps me recalibrate and then be ready to look at the bigger picture of the business again.  

What is the hardest and easiest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is making the right decisions for the future of the company and prioritising tasks. When you start a business, you need to do a lot of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t and it can be nerve-wracking to invest in a direction when you don’t know if it’s going to pay off.

The easiest part of my job is helping my customers. This is what gives me such a great sense of purpose. Knowing they are happy with MANISAFE’s products and customer service and protecting their hands better than before is why I do what I do.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

Public speaking: to be the face of the brand and communicate why people need MANISAFE’s products

Problem-solving: not everything goes to plan and being able to pivot and come up with a solution has been vital.

Relationship-building: Being able to connect with my customers and professionals in my industry to build relationships with them is not only vital to the business but brings a great sense of joy and community in what can be a very lonely job.

How do you manage your time?

Poorly, lol! We all have opportunities for improvement, right? When you’re running a brand on your own and have to wear all the hats, from R&D to web development to marketing, there is a lot of plate spinning. Often, I will have a to-do list ready to complete and then I will have to re-prioritise based on things that come up.  But every two weeks I try to look at my long-term plan to ensure I am operating strategically and don’t get stuck in the weeds.

What are your goals for your brand?

My short-term goal is to establish an omnichannel sales distribution. At present MANISAFE is an e-commerce brand with a few nail salons and spas stocking my products, which has been very successful. I would like to increase the number of stockists across the UK.

My medium-term goal is to get a contract with a national luxury retailer with a beauty focus, such as Harvey Nichols.

My long-term goal is to expand my offering into North America.   

What does success look like to you?

From a value perspective, success for me is providing solutions for my customers that have maximum impact on their lives and minimum impact on the environment. I constantly strive to incorporate sustainable initiatives into my business such as carbon-neutral shipping, a tree-planting programme and sourcing recycled materials. From a business perspective, success is having every beauty lover who gets a gel manicure be aware of the UV exposure risks and use MANISAFE gloves to protect their hands’ skin. This means I envision MANISAFE to be a global brand and the go-to skincare brand for hands.

How does your culture/background influence/benefit your work?

I hail from Vancouver, Canada and the stereotype is true –  we are a friendly and chatty bunch 😊 I feel my natural love to connect with people has helped me build relationships with my customers and professionals in my industry.

What would your advice be to those wanting to start their own brand?

Start a business from a place of passion or service, not to make money. Starting a business is HARD and relentless work and you WILL have low moments but if you have a WHY to reflect on, you can reignite your flame and persevere with growing your business. The money will come.

What’s your proudest achievement in your career so far?

MANISAFE winning Best Skin Innovation for Body in the Marie Claire Skin Awards 2021. MANISAFE was only 6 months young and won alongside some of the biggest global brands in the skincare industry! Also, the judging panel consisted of dermatologists, aesthetics doctors and thought leaders from the beauty industry that I admire and respect, so the fact they chose my gloves was a very proud moment for me.   

What do you think I’d be most surprised to find out about you?

I’m a certified yoga teacher and medical acupuncturist. I used to be a Physiotherapist and I trained in these additional skills to provide my patients with a holistic treatment plan. I continue to use these modalities in my own life to maintain my well-being.

What would be your personal tagline?

“I am my only limit and I can achieve what I set my mind to”

Unlock an industry secret for me

Your manufacturers expect you to negotiate with them. You are leaving money on the table if you don’t push back on their initial quote. As a start-up, every penny counts and if you want to run a successful business you need your cost of goods to be as lean as possible.

Thank you so much Candice for sharing your story with us and giving so much helpful and honest advice along the way

If you have any comments or questions for Candice, please leave them below. You can also find her and her amazing products here:

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See you in a few weeks with my next guest! Deedee xx