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Leading Light in Lockdown

By Alex Fox | 01 June 2020 | News

Marian Newman

UK nail expert Marian Newman launches FB group that becomes go-to place for current affairs, topics, information, inspiration & government guidelines for the nail industry & beyond.

Swelling weekly with members, the Facebook group, Madge’s Chat Show, is proving a popular comfort zone for nail professionals with a membership of more than 1200 and growing daily.

Created the day after lockdown on 24 March, UK nail industry expert and pioneer Marian Newman was keen to offer a conduit for nail industry professionals seeking guidance and support. This was realised in the creation of a general, yet private, group where nail and beauty professionals could discuss industry directives, join a community where relevant topics were delivered, where questions could be asked and like-minded professionals could seek solace, sanity and the answers. It began with Marian going LIVE from her home study and straight off the bat, this new group was a hit and techs lined up to be accepted into the community. Let it be noted, techs must request to join the group, and Marian herself accepts.

Lockdown had started! All over Facebook I could see anxiety levels going through the roof with all the uncertainty when the reality of it started to hit home,” reveals Marian Newman. “’I know, I thought’, I’ll start a little group, maybe 200 friends (ones who are always picking my brain when we work together or via PMs etc), keep it informal and fun and more of a ‘chat’. Someone suggested the name, which I thought was ‘tongue in cheek’ enough to keep it lighthearted, so off I  went with nail-related revision subjects and Q&As. Then I spent time delivering light relief in the form of funny or ‘challenging’ backstage stories. I enjoyed great feedback, so much in fact that it become a regular fixture, three times a week at 1pm.”


Education & Evolution

As time moved forward, topics evolved organically and become more focused on topical news and current affairs, which were scrutinised, analysed and discussed in layman’s terms.

“As things got a bit more serious through my work with the British Beauty Council, it became clear that the government needed help with suggested guidelines from every sector,” explains Marian. “Unfortunately, the hair and beauty associations don’t really put any focus on the nails sector and its specific challenges with regard to H&S and the COVID-19 situation. Fortunately, I’m friends with many people from several countries who were ahead of us in the ‘re-opening’ stakes so, I had chats with them to see what they were doing.

“Having some ‘inside’ information, I changed the focus of ‘Madge’ to encourage members to use their time wisely, think about what ‘might’ come in and research the possible solutions that would be right for them. Recognising we may not get too much notice of our nationwide re-opening date for salons, I suggested being ready, researched and financially sorted, would be a good idea. The government plans were continually evolving and changing at this time.

“I also changed my view of how to help the British Beauty Council, by creating a general Risk Assessment (RA) for the sector and enlisting the help of Doug Schoon (who willingly agreed to take part in a meeting that was hosted at 6am for him). He reviewed my RA, commented, added and subtracted to the point where we were both happy to submit it to the council which, in turn, submitted it to government. It had to be ‘safe, achievable and sensible’. In fact, it just returned to all of the original standards, which so many were not applying, plus the specific COVID-19 requirements.

“After this, without it being that obvious, ‘Madge’ members were taken on a logical ‘journey’ to help alleviate the stress of making decisions, individual RAs (risk assessments), financial considerations, the finer details, what re-opening looks like, a ‘journey’ through the decision making process (via RAs) for both salon and training and how so much better it makes you feel when you’ve done it.”

Advice on correct sterilisation and sanitation techniques, use of masks, screens, extraction units, ventilation, future proofing your business, cashflow forecasting; Madge explored a wealth of subjects and as noted above, the back to work guidelines for nail salons were published on the council’s website ( on 11 May.

Seeking to motivate industry individuals, quell anxieties, while promoting a safe, polite and respectful platform to communicate, Marian has invited many industry figures to deliver information, education and business advice too – making sure that all sectors such as mobiles, self-employed, distributors, educators, salon owners and employees too, are serviced and engaged, who have inspired, made us laugh, motivated and directed on serious topics as well as inspirational nail designs; but mostly shared their expert knowledge.

“Members have been AMAZINGLY kind, sharing and respectful,” cites Marian. “No judgements at all, just help. ‘Madge’ was never meant to be about ‘me’ and I’ve been given the fabulous support of so many who were willing to share their expertise and experiences. Liza Smith, Jennie Nippard, Cait Hill have all been fabulous. Interspersed with some inspirational chats with Tracey Lee, Shelena Robinson and Winnie Huang, Hazel Dixon, Tracy Anne Shelverton, Metta Francis. Now, the focus has changed again. We have taken that ‘journey’. Now is the time to look forward,” enthuse Marian. “We have the end in sight!”


Industry Innovator & Icon

Working tirelessly for industry, as she has for decades, Marian created a nail industry first when she invited professionals to join an industry Zoom meeting on Friday 22 May, where more than 50 people joined to discuss industry issues. Creating four groups inside the meeting, Marian invited nine industry experts to host ‘breakout’ meetings, which lasted for 45-minutes, before inviting all guests back into the main meeting for feedback.

A progressive approach to media, discussion and industry communication, the four topics highlighted comprised education; client confidence; vision of the future; the role of industry bodies, authorities, trade magazine and exhibitions.

Overwhelmingly the feedback showed that techs are most concerned about industry education, especially in the college sector, the inconsistency between guidelines posted from varying authorities and industry bodies – with a call for there to be one source of truth to turn to – poor accreditation across the industry with many losing faith in current awarding bodies, a strong call for industry standards and one set of guidelines to be created to create a standardised industry that can show via window stickers, potentially, that standards and regulations have been met and industry practices inside the salon are high. Regulation, standards of practice and education were central to all the groups’ thinking.

“On Monday 18 May I announced it was time to bring in other people to look at ‘the new future’,” regales Marian. “I’d planned a couple of ‘things’. One being inviting a small group to look at guidelines for mobiles and home salons (within the home environment). This has been created and submitted to the British Beauty Council, which has now incorporated it into its ‘suggested guidelines’. A questionnaire was also devised that it will post across several sectors.

“Sue Davies of Gorgeous Nail Emporium, Bexley, Kent, hosted a ‘salon protocol’ meeting that delivered some amazing ideas, specifically aimed at the consumer, Jennie Nippard hosted an ‘education protocol’ meeting to help with this situation after doing her own full risk assessment, Liza Smith discussed future proofing your business, cashflow forecasts, salon logistics, finding your break-even point and assessing expected turnover, Krisztina van der Boom (co-founder/director of DryBy, one of the busiest salons in London) shared her secrets, while Samantha Sweet gave her honest ‘take’ on where we are and where we’re going.

“Now for the big news as we walk into June! We need inspiration, answers and help with the ‘new future’. Alleviate stress and confusion, be positive and excited with what the future will bring. So, with this in mind, I’ve pulled in some long-term friends to help! Madge has exclusive ‘chats’ with Doug Schoon, Jan Arnold, Jim McConnell, Linda and Jim Nordstrom.

“I will follow this with some European ‘big guns’ in the near future. Who knew that my little idea of keeping people calm and using their time wisely would go!?”


This week the MADGE CHAT SHOW guest speaker inspiring line-up is includes – Monday 1 June Doug Schoon (recorded/ posted in the evening). Tuesday 2 June Jan Arnold (recorded/posted in the eve), Wednesday 3 June Jim McConnell (recorded/posted in the eve). Friday 5 June Linda Nordstrom (Zoom live streamed on FB). Linda will be able to take questions via the comments bar during the FB Live.

Join Madge’s Chat Show here


View the guidelines at:

Read the government press release here.

Read the updated guidelines to working safely during coronavirus here.