Nail Deck is a nail care company that owns a number of nail care brands, including gel nail polish brand Light Lacquer and peelable nail polish brand Aquajellie.
Early this year, the company launched a new brand, Dani + Kiara, a line of halal certified nail polishes.
Founder Daryl Chew has observed over the years that halal products were valued by more than just Muslim consumers.
“Halal products are not just for Muslims, but also for the clean beauty consumer. They know that halal products are the gold standard. When we did the pre-launch for Dani + Kiara, we saw excitement form existing customers who are not Muslim too.”
More specifically, Dani + Kiara’s nail polishes are water permeable, thus wudu friendly for Muslim consumers.
Wudu, or ablution, is an act of cleansing the body before worship. The practice requires all parts of the face, head, arms and feet to be covered entirely by water to be valid.
Most nail polish is forbidden as typical formulas create a barrier over the nail, preventing water from reaching the surface, rendering the wudu incomplete.
For nail polish to be halal, it has to fulfil two major requirements: it must be free of impermissible ingredients and must allow water to reach the nail beds for proper wudu.
Aside from this, being breathable gives the polishes multiple benefits such as being healthier for nails, being more long-lasting, and drying faster than traditional polish formulas.
Chew said that developing a range of halal nail polish has been a major goal for Nail Deck. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but we just kept hitting roadblocks.”
By developing a halal range, the company would be able to attract consumers from neighbouring markets Malaysia and Indonesia, which both have sizable Muslim populations.
Chew added that ensuring it is catering to a diverse audience was important for the company.
“A big part of how I’ve managed to grow this business is focusing [on inclusivity]. There are many nail polish brands on the market, but they are more suited to western skin tones. We made sure to have colours that are more suited for Asian skin tones, which I’ve learnt through the years from serving Asian customers.
“Inclusivity means just making sure that we formulas for anyone and everyone. We want to make sure that we can cater to different types of customers and bring the joy of colour to them all.”
Making a bigger pie
In 2020 and 2021, Nail Deck experienced a sharp uptick of sales largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused movement restrictions and the temporary closure of many nail salons.
In 2022, Chew said sales have tumbled by roughly 30% to 40%. However, sale levels continued to be higher than pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s a drop but it’s still better than pre-COVID. I’m very grateful for the base of customers that have kept us going.”
Moving forward, Chew said it was imperative for the company to find ways to “increase the size of the pie”.
He said: “To be frank, it’s very hard to grow this business. Over the years, I’ve thought about how we can compete with other brands, but now I’m going back to this question: why is it so hard to grow this business?”
The reality, Chew explained, was that the nail care market is small and that many people do not bother to paint their nails because of a multitude of factors such as time and convenience.
However, it largely boils down to the limitations of the products available on the market.
“There is a major gap in the nail industry. On one hand, you have polish which is easy to apply and remove but doesn’t last very long. On the other, you have gels which have a great shine, last very long, but is very hard to apply and remove. You want a good in-between, and this is something that hasn’t been solved yet.”
He believes that by finding such a product, the nail care market could potentially expand.
“Why not think about how to increase the size of the market by solving these problems? Make it easier, remove the resistance for somebody who has never painted their nails before, who didn’t want to pain their nails before because now it’s actually easy and they can do it themselves.”