India Martin is the founder and CEO of Only Fingers and Toes, the luxury nail varnish stocked exclusively at Harvey Nichols. A former investment banker, turned philanthropist and entrepreneur, India believes that what we put on our body should be safe from harmful chemicals. Following two years of extensive research, and inspiration from India’s time living in Japan, O.F.A.T. launched its 5-Free (devoid of Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP, Camphor and Phthalic acid) colour and restorative ranges.
We find out why the mother of three could not live without banana pancakes, the best advice she’s ever been given or how she keeps her life positive.
One word that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
I do a lot of things. I am a family woman who is committed philanthropist and creative who runs her own business. I would say that through my business, I am a purveyor of identity through the use of colour.
Who is your greatest influence in your career/life?
My parents. They have always been and remain to be amazing role models. They are both really smart people who taught me that boundaries (with regard to achievement) are only perceived.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love the creative process. Whether a photo-shoot, new product development or defining new colour palettes, being creative for me is pure self-expression. It’s a real window to my soul.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I went from being a Managing Director running a global organisation at one of the world’s largest investment banks to running my own company. I didn’t realise how much I would miss the infrastructure. IT issues are no longer a phone call to a help desk! I have to be all things in my business.
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is my three beautiful children. Ensuring that they are self-aware, thoughtful and philanthropic is a gift to witness. Shaping them into responsible human beings is by far my greatest achievement though I must say – we’re still on the journey!
What was your Plan B?
I’ve never had a Plan B. All of the things I’ve ever done have been my Plan A’s at that moment in time. Plan B would be a distraction for me and somehow – Plan B doesn’t feel like it has the same weight as Plan A. Its important to roll with the punches no matter what life throws at you. I try to make everything I do Plan A – it means that I provide the right amount of focus.
What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is my wedding ring. It reminds me that I have an amazing husband who stands by me through thick and thin. At the moment – as an entrepreneur there is often more thick!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve been given is to be clear about my vision and that charity is the price we pay for living. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Please complete the sentence… I could not live without…
I could not live without banana pancakes. My granddad used to make them for me all of the time. They are a reminder of him and they taste so good!
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
If I could have dinner with anyone it would be Bill and Melinda Gates. They have financial resources beyond measure but are amongst the most philanthropic in the world. Their philanthropic vision aligns to my core values.
Sustainability and consumption are two words you will hardly find in the same sentence – which brands do you think are good quality and are doing their bit for people and the planet?
There are a few brands that I really like and admire for different reasons. I love Antonia Burrell. Aside from product sustainability, she is also an amazing practitioner. There is a wonderful French fashion brand called Amour Vert. Their clothes are fabulous but they are also very eco-focused which is always a bonus for me. I will also always love The Body Shop. It was one of the first sustainable brands that was out there in a big way. I love what it stands for.
Do you support a charity or cause?
My personal favourite charities are Making The Leap (UK) of which I am the former Chair, The Tiffany Circle of the British Red Cross and The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. From a business perspective, we support The Dollis Dolls Nail Bar (UK), a project of Art Against Knives, which combats youth gang violence, and Polished Girlz, a wonderful charity that was founded by a 12-year-old girl that paints the nails of ill children in over 40 locations across the US.
What’s on your Xmas wish-list?
My Xmas wish list is pretty long! Aside from family, peace and all of that good stuff, I would love to have a Tesla. It is an amazing car. I love that it is electric but amazingly luxe!
What is your personal luxury?
I have been a manicure/pedicure girl almost my entire life. My biggest luxury is doing them once per week! This is one of the perks of a owning a nail brand!
What is your most treasured luxury item?
I have a beautiful limited edition LV bag that my husband bought me a few years ago for my birthday. It is gorgeous and covered in sequins!
What steps do you take to make your life more positive?
The rules for me are pretty simple. I always endeavour to treat others as I would want to be treated. I like random acts of kindness. It makes me feel good to give whenever I can. I am conscious of the world and the impact that the choices I make have on it both physically and politically. Lastly, I choose love every single time.