Tall, striking and individualistic are just three adjectives that could perfectly describe Magda. Whippet thin, with her signature large glasses, she instantly catches your magpie eye as you're drawn to her long, sparkly fingernails with fingers and wrists covered in rings and bracelets.

Photograph by Carlos Ramos

An architect by training, she is the visionary founder and creator of Nails 4’ Us, a nail gel franchise based in Portugal but present in Angola and Spain. A dramatic career switch no doubt, one that started off as a passion for the beauty she saw in others hands. As a teenager playing the piano, she began to appreciate the elegance of hands and fingers in motion, and after a trip to New York during university, a new insight into nailcare emerged.

Nail salons, just for nails, not the old traditional concept of a hairdresser with a manicurist, had just started to spring up and it was a business on its own. In the 80’s, nail care started to grow, and with that, nails as accessories too. Nails covered in rhinestones, pierced, painted on patterns, stickers, it was a whole new world. This was a sight not seen in Portugal before, and it was with this in mind that she started her first stand alone kiosk in a mall in Lisbon over 13 years ago. As it grew, Magda left the architect’s atelier she worked for, and continued to open up 41 more Nails 4’ Us salons.

 You wouldn't think that this mother of 3 boys, busy career woman, would have any ME time, but she does and its a surprising one at that: running marathons. Magda trains regularly with a trainer, oversees religiously what she eats, and runs her heart out whenever she can.

“Running gives me freedom, freedom from the restraints of work, where I have to count on other people to achieve goals, freedom to depend on no one else but myself to cross the finish line”

She is a fashion lover, not a victim to anyones style but her own. Always in heels, sky high ones at that, great handbag, her long hair just messed up perfectly, and usually a short jacket or blazer.

Q&A

How did you start running ?

When going to the gym no longer satisfied me. I love the idea of belonging to a group, love the spirit of solidarity that you feel amongst fellow runners, at that moment we’re all equals, there is no social strata. I also have a need to physically drain myself, and I can lose up to 4kg in a marathon, it’s such a demanding activity. The sheer satisfaction at crossing the finish line is indescribable.

How do you come up with colours and names?

Everything around me is inspiring, the cinema, travelling, and people. The world inspires me .

5 key characteristics that an entrepreneur needs today?

Persistency,  creativity, be determined , intuitive e ethical.

A choice between shoes and bags, what would it be?

This is not an easy question, because when you buy a pair of shoes, you buy comfort too, but I would choose a bag. A bag is within hand’s reach, and closer to the eye, so closer to the heart.

Favorite brands

Accessory brands, Givenchy, Chanel, Balenciaga and in RTW, it always depends on the collection are: Zadig&Voltaire, Givenchy, Dries van Noten and Chanel

Huge style disasters, please share!

The ones that really embarrass me: I permed my hair at 15, and wearing a Wonderbra in my 20’s.

What is elegance to you?

To me it’s the way someone carries themselves, their body posture and serenity.

5 beauty products you cannot live without.

Sun protector, body and face cream, and hair conditioner, no specific brands at all. My hand cream and nail gel are Nails 4’Us.

Career Advice

Be an independent woman, and if you have a good idea, just run with it. Had I known all the risks, I probably would’ve hesitated, but look where I am now!

Magda just recently won the Maxima Business Women of the Year Award!

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