Local Business Heroes - Nail Art ID Lab

There's a few options for nail art lovers in our lil ol' town but the lovely Shirley offers something a bit different - cutting-edge Japanese style nail fashions. And if you like your nails to dazzle then you'll want to get a Colchester Life card ASAP to take advantage of her umissable offer!

  • What brought you to Colchester? What is your background?

I grew up in Colchester but left the town when I was 18 to pursue my education and career in London. I recently moved back with my husband and 2 daughters after living in Shanghai for 5 years. 

Both my husband and I previously worked in the fashion industry. I was a business development coordinator and my husband was a brand director in the luxury sector for a major US brand.

  • Why did you decide to start an independent business in Colchester? 

I had stopped working to be a full time mum at the age of 26 after having my first baby in 2010. We now have 2 children and I have been very eager to work again. We had planned to move back to England last year and that was when I decided to think about going to back to work. However, with 2 young children I knew I would not be able to commit to the working hours I previously did in London. I needed a job that is flexible so that I can still care for my family.

(PS - I cannot stress enough how difficult it is for women to work in this country after having children) Editor's Note: Hear hear!!

I thought of many jobs that I would have loved to do but none of them had flexible working hours. This is when I decided to learn Japanese Nail Art as I feel this is a rare skill and service in England. Getting Japanese manicures was something I really enjoyed when living in Shanghai and I thought this could be something I could do in my hometown.I remember after getting my first ever nail art done I found myself constantly admiring my nails for days. It really lifted my mood and I’ve not turned back to regular nail polish since.


  • Tell us some more about your business and your vision for your company.

My husband William and I co-founded our brand NailArt ID Lab last year after we moved back to Colchester. Unlike many nail bars in town we offer our clients a private appointment in our clean, cozy, modern studio.

I use high quality imported products, mostly from Japan, including brands which are hypoallergenic, that are suitable for sensitive skin and pregnant women. These premium gels are known for their quality and results. The gels have no odour so our clients can sit comfortably without inhaling toxic fumes. The Japanese gels are a new system where it 'cures' in just 5 seconds under an LED nail lamp which shortens the application time.

We want our brand to be synonymous with art, fashion and culture, rather than marketing it as your normal “beauty/nail” salon. William came up with the name ID Lab as we both agree that nail art can be a form of expressing identity and represent a client's unique personality. We want to educate our customers on the importance of nail service hygiene and safety as well as giving advice on creating their unique nail art design. 


Our aim is to expand our studio where we could offer classes for those who are interested to learn nail art and also hire talented nail artists to become part of the Nail Art ID Lab team. Although this is just the beginning but we are working hard together to chase the dream.

Further to that we would like to one day be able to manufacture our own brand of products to distribute globally. We also plan on creating social media content to make people aware of our brand,  whilst we are research the manufacturing process. 

  • What do you like about running a business in Colchester? What are the challenges?

Japanese nail art is something very new to Colchester and we are glad to have found our space within our town's longest serving barbers, Rodney's Barbers. It's an ideal location in lovely Church Walk and is very accessible for people going into town. 

We are aware that there are many nail businesses in our area and it is a very competitive market where someone is always offering something cheaper. Our prices are slightly higher, as our products used are premium quality and all applications include the Japanese style nail prep, which is a safe and gentle way to prepare your nails without the use of harsh drills. We strive to ensure our customers receive a high standard of service and unique experience.


We are finding people here are still quite traditional in terms of their design selection so we look forward to welcoming some adventurous customers who are willing to try some funky nail art.

Those who want detailed nail art done will need to be quite patient as some sessions could take up to three hours to complete. That kind of work is not for those who want a lunch break quick mani, but it will be worth their wait! 

  • Where’s your favourite place to eat/drink in the town right now? 

A good day starts with coffee and ends with wine. :) The coffees at Porto Cafe on Culver Street West are not half bad!

I’ve been dining at Bella Pais since when I was young and I still enjoy going back. Mersea is also somewhere we often visit for good seafood. 

  • Where is Colchester's ‘best kept secret’ in your opinion? What do you like to do most when not running your business? 

Our studio? (Just kidding!) I have been away from Colchester for too long but I'm looking forward to rediscovering our fast growing town. 

When not running my business I do enjoy family time, especially now that I’m a working mum. Me-time is a thing in the past! 

  • Would your business be willing to offer a small discount or free gift upon purchase to holders of the Colchester Life Discount Card? 

Currently, all new customers will receive 15% off on their first visit and we will be launching our own loyalty cards soon.

In addition, I would be glad to offer complimentary nail art on two nails for every single color application for Colchester Life discount cardholders. 

All Shirley's details are on our directory