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27 November 2013

Cardiff and Vale College beauticians nail it in UK-wide enterprise competition

Five trainee beauticians from Cardiff and Vale College are the most entrepreneurial students in the United Kingdom.

That was the message from the Institute of Directors last week, when the CAVC students beat teams from 19 colleges across the UK to win a national student enterprise competition. Their business, Chameleon Nails, is a bespoke nail varnish system where people can use an app to match nail colour to their apparel and accessories.

The Chameleon Nails team impressed judges with their confidence, preparation, sales figures, consumer research and brand marketing potential. They were up against more than 100 students exhibiting their business ideas in a global marketplace at the Institute of Directors in the UK final as part of Global Enterprise Week.  

The budding entrepreneurs presented and sold their products to an invited audience before presenting to a panel of judges. Chameleon Nails had to build a business plan and sell it via the Market Maker platform, a virtual economy devised by the City University of New York. The team have won a trip to New York, where they will visit the University.

Chameleon Nails is made up of:

• Chief Executive Emma Nicolaou, 28 and from Barry

• Director of Finance Heidi Morgan, 27 and from Llantwit Major

• Director of Research Sophie Andrews, 19 and from Cardiff

• Director of Marketing Chantelle Djaiz, 17 and from Cardiff

• Operations Manager Hollie Stark, 17 and from Cardiff

After hearing that Chameleon Nails had won, Emma said: “Oh my gosh I feel absolutely amazed – it’s unbelievable. Here we are, sat in this glamorous setting, just five beauticians and everyone else is suited and booted and there’s us with our nail polish and we actually won! I’m seriously shaking.”

Heidi added: “It’s fantastic and it was a massive shock to us. As they were calling out the names we thought we didn’t have a chance but then they called our names and we were a bit star struck, saying ‘Oh my god that’s us!’ It’s amazing.”

Both said they had found the whole Market Maker experience fascinating, and that they were extremely proud to represent Wales in the finals. “I’m quite a shy person so it’s really brought me out of myself and helped me to gain confidence as well,” Heidi said.

“It’s been really, really interesting. It’s shown us how we would go about setting anything up like this in the future,” Emma said. “How we would go about the research, the marketing and how to pitch – everything about setting up a business and how to go forward, especially with a new idea – how to develop it.”

The team will now look to set Chameleon Nails up as a real business. “We think it’s a great idea and everybody that we’ve spoken to has said ‘Why isn’t somebody already doing this?’” Emma said. “So why can’t we be the ones to do it?”

“Now we just need to get the business up and running,” Heidi agreed. “We will need to get some investors and build a prototype then we can really get the ball rolling.”

“We’ll be doing a lot of shopping in New York! It will be very interesting to see we can make an impact over there – the two markets are very different,” Emma added.

Chameleon Nails had won an initial Market Maker round at CAVC, being picked out of 32 teams as the best in the College by a panel of local entrepreneurs. The College had embedded the contest into the enterprise modules of the Welsh Baccalaureate.

CAVC Principal and Chief Executive Mike James said: “To see off the challenges from 19 other colleges from across the UK is a real triumph and testament to all the hard work that Emma, Heidi, Sophie, Chantelle and Hollie have put in to Chameleon Nails – a business venture that I hope will continue to develop with our support.

“As the only Welsh college in the Gazelle Group of entrepreneurial Further Education institutions, we have a real flagship role in showcasing how enterprising students can transform the learning experience. This wonderful success now gives Cardiff and Vale College a real platform on which to build its entrepreneurial education work.

“I would like to thank the tutors Cat Hillier and Wendy Yeoman, Welsh Baccalaureate Co-ordinator Tess Kadach and Senior Entrepreneurship Development Officer Tania Davies for all of their help in making the Chameleon Nails team such a resounding success.”

The Gazelle Colleges Group aims to transform FE by developing new learning models focused on providing students with commercial, entrepreneurial learning opportunities. The colleges sit at the heart of their local entrepreneurial ecosystems, breaking down the barriers between business and education by developing innovative partnerships with local employers and community stakeholders, to equip students with the skills, capabilities and confidence to make or take a job.