Kadimah Aaliyah Tackie, 26, owns NUKA nail studio in London’s Ladbroke Grove alongside her best friend and business partner Anouska Ryan.
She spoke to The Stack just days before giving birth to her first child. Mat leave was something she’s been thinking about for her whole pregnancy. Her biggest concern was finding someone to cover her. In truly modern fashion she put out a story on NUKA’s Instagram stating they were looking for someone to join the team. No fewer than 29 people applied.
“That alone is amazing, isn’t it?” she recalls. “It was scary but a beautiful thing. Like, oh my God this is actually happening!”
She shortlisted the applicants based on their art and manicure skills – and on how much of a NUKA super fan they were. After various rounds of interviews and practical tests, she found her cover, someone so perfect she’s going to be a permanent part of the team.
Tackie invited regular clients to come in and have their nails done by the new employee as part of the on-boarding process – because “I don’t want them to go elsewhere”.
Her canny strategy has paid off.
“My regulars all love her. They have met her and they say they will come back.”
She is however, already planning her comeback which will involve doing nail art on herself – not on clients one day a week.
“No one can forget about me, ok?” she laughs. “You need to stay relevant.”
Tackie isn’t sure how long she will take off: “I don’t know. And I think it’s ok not to know.”
While she stopped doing nails a couple of weeks before her due date, she was still dealing with emails and on Instagram, something she anticipates doing at home with the baby.
A study by Timsewise Foundation found that while women cite a lack of affordable childcare as a barrier to enterprise – and this is certainly true and in urgent need of review – they also want to be able to confidently take time away to put mothering first.
Tackie says she is lucky to have a lot of support around her and citing a “massive family and a supportive boyfriend”. But while that’s reassuring, for Tackie it’s missing the point.
“Everyone tells me to go back to work and they can look after the baby but I want to look after my baby,” she says.
How does stepping away albeit for a short time make her feel?
“It’s really hard,” she admits.