Small Business Focus: Indie Nail Polish, Part One
Big business is pervasive. Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy are everywhere. Supermarket chains are where we get our food. Big box stores or websites are where we get our stuff. Restaurants, at least are still frequently single owner or have only a few locations but for the most part, we all buy the same stuff from the same places. There are exceptions, mostly for handmade items or antiques and these things thrive in two places, cities and computers. Small business isn’t dead, it’s just online and often much, much smaller.
The subject of this article is something near and dear to me, indie nail polish. There’s more setup involved than some small businesses as formulas need to be worked out, bottles need to be chosen and fan bases need to be established. Makers create several collections a year to maintain interest in their brand and keep active facebook groups and blogs. There are giveaways for members, collaborations between makers and special single polishes created for interest groups. In a time where a lot of people don’t engage in community social activities, the polish community provides something equivalent, except you can be social in your bathrobe, like me.
I’m a big fan of the indie polish scene, so much so that I can rattle off at least thirty separate brands and am a part of at least ten different groups on facebook. Some of these are; Blackhearted Beauties (black polish), Crazy 4 Crellies (crelly polishes) and Multichrome Madness (for multichromatic polishes). The rest of my groups are for the individual makers. There are too many to list here. Last but not least, is the first polish group I ever joined, Polish Pickup, a monthly collaboration between makers. with around 100 or so participating. Every month, from the first Friday to Monday, each maker offers products that go along with a theme. Some themes have been Books, Holidays Around The World, Under the Sea and Cocktails and Mocktails. April’s theme is Across the Universe: Planets and Galaxies, you can check out the store as it is filled but there’s no buying until April 6-9. Here’s the link
Altogether, the world of indie polish is a fascinating and gratifying one to participate in. Though it can leave you with empty pockets there lots and lots of unique pretties to covet, and the finishes are far more interesting than most of what can be found in a drugstore. Indie polishes are also mostly without a lot of the harmful chemicals found in drugstore offerings. The benefits go both ways as makers have more than a business, they have a creative outlet and frequently a loyal fan-base. I don’t know from personal experience how satisfying it is to have a polish business but, because the indie polish community is so accepting, all I had to do was ask. The following is a series of interviews with some very talented wizards of pigment and paint.
Q: What’s one thing that you really enjoy about making Polish?
A: The free license to create. For instance, this spring I was originally planning a pastel neon collection with holographic flakes. After the book theme for March’s Polish Pickup, I ended up switching to a book-themed collection, based off of the Dragonriders of Pern series of books by Anne McCaffrey. I love them way more than my pastel idea. I have made so many geekery-centered collections: Marvel-inspired duos, a Sailor Moon collection, and several based off of Nintendo franchises: Zelda and Pokémon notably. I can take inspiration from anything, but at the same time, I get to be creative and draw from what interests me the most, and it creates connections with those who have similar interests. It is also a part of my self-care routine, because for me, the creation process is relaxing and helps with managing anxiety.
Seventyseven Nail Lacquer
Q: How did you get into making nail polish?
A: I have always had an interest in nail polish. One day I stumbled upon indie nail polish on Facebook. There were different finishes I had not seen in shops, nor online. It was much more interesting. I started researching ingredient and suppliers. At first, I only made polishes for myself. After doing much research, I started planning our release. Making polish could be expensive and what better way to support that by making polish for others. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing what I make with others.
A: I love working with my daughter. We truly are partners in this. At 13 years old, she is learning what goes into owning your own business. Beyond that, I love the creativity of it. I love seeing our work on others. I am always so incredibly humbled when I see someone wearing a Joir Couture color. It’s amazing!
Lucky 13 Lacquer
Before starting Lucky 13 Lacquer in 2012, I was unemployed for a year and needed something to fill my time. I had already been a nail polish addict for a few months at that point, spending hours every day on nail art, but the assortment of creamy polishes and a few glitter toppers from the drug store left me wanting so much more. More color, more variety, more GLITTER! A phrase was going around the nail polish addict world: Handmade and indie nail polish. I knew I had to try my hand at making my own nail polish. Weeks went into researching techniques and suppliers. When everything arrived it was a whirlwind of glitter at my desk as the first creations were born, and I was hooked! Since then, over 250 unique polishes have been released and my glitter and pigment collection continues to grow.
Q: What’s one thing you really enjoy about making polish?