POWER LIST 2018: Retail Stars – Nicola Dames, founder and CEO, Vanilla Blush

Dublin-born Nicola Dames suffered with bowel disease in her 20s and lived with the condition for many years before making the decision to have life-changing surgery, which removed her large colon.

Post operation, she found that the underwear available to her lacked femininity and so in 2008 the former intensive care nurse embarked on her first business venture.

She launched Vanilla Blush as an online business before opening a bricks and mortar store in Glasgow in April 2014.

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Since then, Vanilla Blush has grown to become an award-winning business specialising in medical lingerie and swimwear for people who have undergone surgery that has left them with stomas.

The company was crowned Post-Surgery brand of the Year in 2014 and in June 2016, it secured £50,000 in funding after wowing the judges at the Scottish EDGE final.

Nicola made her pitch at the RBS Conference Centre in Edinburgh after going through several rounds of gruelling assessment by high profile entrepreneurs in Scotland.

The entrepreneur is passionate about ending the stigma associated with stoma surgery and regularly campaigns to help banish this taboo.

In December 2016, she called on surgeons, doctors and nurses to speak positively to patients about the benefits of ostomy surgery and having a stoma bag in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland.

And in October 2017, Scottish MP Alison Thewliss backed an equality and diversity drive by Vanilla Blush to raise public awareness of stoma care needs.

Nicola rejected a EUR3.2 million (£2.7 million) offer to take over the business in June 2017.

Emphasising that Vanilla Blush, which supplies to the NHS across the UK, as well as eight European countries, is continuing to grow beyond its original base, Nicola did admit to being tempted by the offer.

However, when it came to making the final decision, she realised that her brand’s mission and “hard core” financial projections meant too much to simply “grab the cash and run”.

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Profile

Company: Vanilla Blush
Address: 43 Dalmarnock Rd, Bridgeton, Glasgow G40 4LA
Tel: 0141 763 0991
Twitter: @VBlush
Website: www.vblush.com
Focus: Post-surgery lingerie and swimwear specialist

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