Electra Sawbridge has London head-over-nails in love with her cozy, classy salon.
When Electra Jane Margot Kyrenia Billericay Sawbridge entered the world, her dad decided to give her a name that she would have to live up to. “My father was working for the BBC on the radio in Cyprus when I was born,” Sawbridge says. “He was very much into the Greek names,” she adds, explaining her first name and that of her younger sister, Phaedra. Today, Sawbridge’s business card carries an abbreviated version of the name on her birth certificate: “Electra Sawbridge.”
But her dad’s vision for his daughter was right on the mark. This nail technician and entrepreneur has already produced enough energy and business ideas for at least five people.
Electra Sawbridge Can’t Sit Still
As the owner of The Country Club, a hair and nail salon located in London, Sawbridge and her staff cater to a young but sophisticated clientele that pushes them to stay on top of the latest European nail trends. Sawbridge’s staff of independent contractors includes nail technician Suzan Marsh, plus a beauty therapist, a hairstylist, and an accountant.
The Country Club offers hair and nail services, tanning beds, and a retail area that features nail products, clothes, and gifts – all in a professional, yet cozy, salon. “Electra is very gifted and works hard to create the right atmosphere,” says Marsh. “Our clients love it here. Electra has created home-away-from-home comforts with a warm atmosphere and a no-rush attitude – but with professionalism.”
Electra Leads the Field
When she’s not busy creating beautiful nails or running the business end of the salon, Sawbridge steps into her second pair of shoes as general secretary of the London-based International Nail Association (INA). She helps local newcomers find a salon, fields technicians’ questions about sanitation and technique, and runs the office for the 300-member association. While the INA works mainly with technicians in England, Sawbridge says the organization also has attracted members from Spain, Ireland, and South Africa.
The INA helps to set standards for the nail profession in England, where regulations can be a bit confusing for the country’s 5,000 technicians. “There is no licensing for nail technicians in England,” Sawbridge explains, noting that local regulations are determined by each borough’s council.
Sawbridge’s own high standards have served her well during her nine years as owner of The Country Club and at the INA, where she advises new technicians. “You shouldn’t worry about the frills until you’ve mastered the basics.” When it comes to doing nails properly, Sawbridge says, “I believe that if anything should be adhered to, it should be the prep work.” She’s also particular about the products she uses. “I prefer to work with liquid and powder,” she says. “A good technician can make liquid and powder look amazing and last extremely well if it is applied correctly.”
Between her more-than-full days at The Country Club and her work with the INA, Sawbridge’s schedule may sound full. But this businesswoman has both a creative and an entrepreneurial itch that refuse to be satisfied – plus a few directors and television company clients who recently encouraged her to start a nails-only talent agency, Amalgamated Talent. “I’m so excited,” says Sawbridge about her plans to recruit top nail technicians for the agency. The secret to her success, she emphasizes, will be the high professional standards she has set for the nail technicians she’s hiring. “I’m starting very small and the technicians have got to be good!” she adds emphatically. “We’ll be looking at further training for promising candidates.”
While Sawbridge is concentrating strictly on nails as she gets the agency off the ground, she says she may incorporate hairstyling in the future. Sawbridge hopes eventually to get in touch with technicians from all over the world who are interested in working with Amalgamated Talent. While the agency initially will provide nail technicians strictly for film, television, and photo shoots, Sawbridge says, “Later, we will be involved in salon placement.”
The London Look
As the head of Amalgamated Talent, Sawbridge must always keep an eye on the latest trends in nail techniques, styles, and colors. Fortunately, her clients have definite ideas about what’s hot, with London fashion trends helping to predict which nail colors will be popular each season, Sawbridge says. “Red polish used to be big in London, but not now,” she adds. “It will probably come back, but now everyone wants a natural look. Often they just ask for acrylic with no polish. You have to be both meticulous and creative to create a great-looking nail when you’re not adding polish!”
Clients at The Country Club come from all age ranges (from 14 years old – with parental consent – to 90 years old) and walks of life, Sawbridge notes. “I have a few clients on Social Security, working women, homemakers, and women who do not have to work.” She beautifies the nails of a few celebrity clients, too. “It’s a complete mixture,” she says. But it’s her international clients – and the distances they are willing to travel for her services – who really make Sawbridge feel that The Country Club is on the cutting edge. “I have a few clients that fly in from other countries, including Russia, South Africa, America, and France, just to have their nails done!” she says.