An accountancy firm has helped a former woman train driver turned nail artist to become a global phenomenon with more than 10 million views on You Tube.
Mum of three Natasha Lee is now a full time vlogger offering expert beauty tips to her legion of online devotees across the world.
She has given up the beauty salon she once owned in Chester and turned the box room of her family’s semi-detached home, near Mold, Flintshire, into a mini studio where she produces her money-spinning videos teaching the world the intricacies of nail art.
Her online tutorials have been so successful, regularly achieving viewing figures in the hundreds of thousands, that she is now branching out to post videos on other aspects of beauty and fitness and about her family life.
According to Natasha, her accountant, Anthony Lewis, from Coxeys, who have offices in Wrexham and Saltney, has played an instrumental role in making the transition to becoming one of the most successful You Tubers in Britain with more than 85,000 regular subscribers.
Anthony and the team Coxeys helped her through the difficult process of selling the salon and going it alone.
She said: “It is important, no matter how successful your venture is, to have the right people behind you, professionals who will offer ongoing support.
“It can be very isolating being self-employed and there are naturally going to be areas of business life which I am unfamiliar with and which seem hugely complex to me, but I know Anthony is always there to turn to for advice whenever I need help – and to ensure I get my accounts done correctly and on time.”
For his part, Anthony was delighted to see Natasha making such a success of her online venture.
He said: “Natasha has the drive and the expertise to make a real go of this. She is already doing extremely well, and her vlogging business is officially recognised by You Tube as one of the ones to watch.”
Nail art is a booming business worldwide, with the number of salons in the UK having doubled in the last 10 years and, for the first time in 2013, industry figures showed nail vanish topping lipstick as the best selling beauty product.
But even so Natasha has been genuinely amazed at the impact her video postings have had on the world, saying that when she started she didn’t even realise that people could make a full time career out of posting videos on You Tube.
She said: “It didn’t even occur to me that you could get paid for postings on You Tube, never mind turn it into a full time job. I only started putting out one or two videos showing nail art techniques to share with my friends. Then suddenly they went global. It was unbelievable.”
One of her postings – How To Produce Water Marbling Nail Art With Nail Polish – has achieved 10,128,542 views, while another, Luxe Blue Velvet and Diamond Peekaboo Nails – has so far gained 899,328 fans.
Anthony said: “Once you start hitting big figures like that You Tube becomes seriously interested in you as a business proposition and helps you to develop further. That’s what happened with Natasha. Her figures alerted the You Tube management team that there was something special going on here.”
High viewing figures mean commercial companies, keen to increase sales by reaching new markets, become interested in advertising on the sites of bloggers and vloggers, who in turn receive a percentage of the advertising revenue You Tube earns from the sites.
Natasha, 36, has been told by You Tube that she ranks among the top 18 vloggers in her field in Britain and as a result she now has regular access to You Tube’s team of experts and its state of the art training facilities in King’s Cross, London, to help boost her business further.
She said: “It is completely amazing and it all started by accident. I was looking for a new career direction and knew I wanted to do something creative which would fit in with my family life, but I never imagined I would end up doing this.”
Natasha is no stranger to forging new pathways in life. She grew up on Anglesey where one of her first jobs was as a train driver.
She said: “I was 19 and had just been made redundant from an administrative position with Stena Line ferry company, so I got a job with Virgin Trains, originally with the stewarding team. But I was not happy doing that and was looking for something different. I was talking with colleagues about a train driver’s vacancy which became available and I mentioned that I fancied it. Everyone laughed and said I couldn’t possibly do it, which was like a red rag to a bull for me with my red hair, so I took up the challenge and applied for the job.”
Natasha, not only got the job but achieved the second highest score ever recorded for the region in her training qualifications.
She gave up life on the railways when she moved to Flintshire after meeting her husband Richard, also a train driver.
She said: “I went on to qualify as a financial advisor but once our children were born that did not fit in well with family life.”
Natasha has a stepson, Mike, 18, and two children, James, eight and George, four, with Richard.
She said: “Mike and James have Autism Spectrum Disorders and George is also currently having some tests at hospital which means our home life can be quite demanding, though always action-packed. So it is hugely important for me to have a good balance between work and family life. That’s why I started looking for something that could fit in better with our circumstances.”
She eventually trained as a beautician and opened a salon in Chester.
“I had always had a creative streak in me and knew I wanted to do something arty and inspirational, which is why I specialised as a nail technician. I loved it and I also qualified to teach nail art. That’s how I came to do the video tutorials, originally just for my friends and a few colleagues.”
She was stunned when they accrued so many fans.
“I eventually chose to sell the salon and focus on the vlogs because it was more flexible and fits in with my home needs. In a way it’s my dream job as I get to spend lots of time with the family, but I also get to do something creative."
Anthony said though You Tube and social media have an enormous impact on both the modern business and consumer world, it is still relatively unusual to have a client like Natasha.
He said: “We have some people who run virtual businesses from home, selling their products online, but Natasha is our only vlogger. She has done remarkably well, which I think has been down to her sheer determination as well as her passion for her art."