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It Girl Nail Art - Interviews with Indie Nail Creators #5

Interviews with Indie Nail Polish Creators - #5

Hey guys! I hope you're doing well! I really am exciting to be interviewing indie polish creators. We've seen so many new nail trends because of them & I can't wait too see what they have in store for us next! Since indie polishes are very popular right now I figured there's probably a lot of customers/fans who would love to get to know the person behind all their favourite creations. So that's what I'm going to be trying to help you do!

Questions are BOLD & the creators response will be in the regular font. 

Please tell me a bit yourself. (What's you're name? Are you a Cat or dog person?  Etc)
My name is Nicole, and I live in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest with my husband and our 3 year old goldendoodle Darla. We spend a lot of time hiking and camping because we live close to both the mountains and the coast. I’m in an awesome book club, and a “stitch and bitch” group (knitting, cross stitch, beer, wine, venting, etc). I’m borderline obsessed with musical theatre and drag, and have started making custom press-on nail sets for drag queens. I also do a lot of cooking and baking, mostly for my friends and my husband’s students. He’s a ceramic artist and teaches high school ceramics and photography, and he and I met while we were pursuing masters degrees in art, and film respectively. You’ll often notice when I refer to It Girl Nail Art, I say “we,” and it’s because he is very much a part of this adventure. From folding shipping boxes to engineering a mold to make silicone stamping heads, he’s definitely central to It Girl’s success. Darla’s a pretty great intern, but her only responsibilities are notifying me when deliveries arrive and boosting morale!


What is your nail polish brand & how did you come up with the name?
My brand is It Girl Nail Art. The name actually relates to my background in filmmaking--in the days of early cinema, Paramount Studios promoted their most vibrant, fashionable actress, Clara Bow as the “It Girl” while she was starring in a film called “It.” The term later spread to other actresses and eventually became a general title applied to the most stylish, confident women in the public eye. I’ve really always felt like nail art is an extension of fashion and self-expression, and I imagined that many of my eventual customers would be fearlessly fashionable “it girls,” so it felt like the right fit.

What year did you start your brand & what motivated you?
I started selling in August of 2015 with a collection of three stamping plates, but had been doing research and testing for about a year and a half prior to that. Like most indie brand owners, before I started, I was a fan. Nail polish and nail art became my indoor hobby during the years we lived in Montana (where 7-8 months of snow per year really necessitates an indoor hobby). I had discovered and quickly became obsessed with nail stamping, but found myself constantly frustrated with poor quality etching, unimaginative “filler” designs, and nearly-absent customer service among the mass-produced plates that were available. Over the years I had amassed a giant, heavy binder full of hundreds of stamping plates. Yet every time I stamped, it took me ages to search through my collection and find a plate that had a large enough image that I liked, and that would stamp with the combination of polishes and stampers I had. I realized there just weren’t any better options available, and if I couldn’t buy them, why couldn’t I make them? With the encouragement of my husband and friends, I started mocking up some designs and began the long process of finding a USA-based manufacturer that would help me deliver exceptional quality.

The overwhelming majority of stamping plates are churned out by the thousands in a handful of huge factories overseas by people who have no connection at all to nail art of the indie polish community. I wanted to change that. The cost associated with producing in the USA is considerably higher than mass-producing overseas, but I strongly believe that the quality more than justifies it. By choosing to purchase from a truly independent stamping company like It Girl Nail Art, customers are not only supporting my small business, but also the small, american businesses in my supply chain. For the same reasons many nail polish fans are choosing indie polishes over $0.99 drugstore bottles, I think many of my customers are deciding to ditch their bulky collection of cheap plates, and invest in something better.

Do you remember the name of the first stamping plate you made &/or sold?
The first stamping plates I sold were a set of three with a grouping of ten similar geometric full-nail images on each. IG101 and IG102 are primarily angular geometric designs, and IG103 has a more curvilinear motif. I wanted to start by covering a fairly broad range of easy-to-use “basics” before I began branching out into theme plates. About a year later, I launched my first collection of stamping polishes with four jewel-tone metallics. They all have a similar, ultra-sparkly finish that truly pops with a macro lens. Since then, I’ve expanded into some highly-pigmented creme stamping polishes, and am experimenting with making regular nail polish as well.


When creating a new stamping plate, what's your inspiration process?
When I’m creating a new stamping plate, I typically start with a theme, and then try to incorporate images that will work for a variety of fingernail shapes and sizes within that theme. The 100-series (IG101, IG102, etc) each have eight to ten full-nail images measuring 2.25cm (almost an inch) square, which is considerably larger than many of the full-nail designs found elsewhere. But earlier this year, I found that there were some images that couldn’t be contained by that square “box” and began the 200-series plates with IG201. It’s more of a “gallery-style” plate with freeform designs inspired by traditional Indian body decoration known as mehndi. Then, in the last few months, I decided to revamp my plate size and offer a smaller version with “infinity-style” end-to-end designs. Instead of the 12x6cm 100- and 200-series format, the 300-series is 6x4cm and has one or two larger images per plate. This serves the purpose of displaying those images that are too detailed to be captured in the approximate 1x1in “box” but work in a slightly larger format, and it offers a smaller, less expensive plate for new customers to be able to try without committing to the larger format of the 100- and 200-series.
When creating stamping polish, my primary inspiration is making something that will transfer well in combination with the widest combination of plates and stampers possible. After that, I look to nature for color inspiration--precious gemstones, plants, etc., and usually name the polishes after the natural object by which they were inspired.


What is your all time favourite plate that you created?
My favorite stamping plate has to be IG111, which was inspired by the natural beauty of the outdoors, and particularly the Pacific Northwest where I live. It features so many of my favorite things; raindrops, wood grain, fern leaves, a topographic map, and a gorgeous wave pattern.
My favorite stamping polish so far is Olive, which is a deep olive green creme. I feel like olive green is a tragically underappreciated color, especially in nail polish and cosmetics. But I think it’s really chic and fashion-forward, especially in fall and winter!
As for my “regular” polish experiments, I’ve got this pale periwinkle with pink shimmer and a light holographic finish that I’m a little obsessed with. I used it as the background for this stamping mani: https://www.instagram.com/p/BHU8wxhDfr4 and plan to release it sometime this spring!


What are your 3 top sellers of all times?
IG111, the plate which I mentioned above, is the best selling stamping plate. My other two best sellers are Ruby stamping polish from the jewel-tone metallics collection, and my Luxe Cuticle Oil which has been a fan-favorite in the Lemon Sweet Tea fragrance.

From your personal experience what are some pros & cons to being a indie creator?
The pros: It’s still a really exciting moment to see the beautiful nail art that my customers and swatchers are creating with my products--I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that feeling each time I see a new photo. Because the indie polish industry is so tightly knit, I’ve had the opportunity to personally connect with and form friendships with many members of the community. My local area has an unbelievably awesome Facebook group filled with makers, bloggers, swatchers, nail techs, and fans of everything nail polish. We have meetups regularly, and some of my closest friends have come from that group, and many other groups within Facebook and elsewhere.

The cons: Indie nail polish is almost exclusively ‘advertised’ via social media alone, so I’m glued to Facebook and Instagram all day long. Additionally, social media interaction with customers and fans can be a double-edged sword, and there are times when tensions can sometimes overflow. It happens all over the internet, so it’s no surprise that some of it has permeated the indie polish world. I’ve managed to avoid most of it on a personal level, but there seem to be a different set of standards to which indie brand owners are held, and I’m always hyper-aware of that. But the biggest “con” in my opinion, is the frequency with which I see people on social media actually looking for and asking where they can buy “dupes” of specific stamping plates. No matter how you feel about the company that makes the original, no one deserves to be undersold by a brandless overseas factory with an exact replica of the plate they designed and created.

Where is your brand based? Do you ship internationally?
It Girl Nail Art is based in Tacoma, Washington, USA and ships internationally at the lowest available parcel cost. We won’t cut corners on protective packaging or tracking, but we also refuse to gouge our international customers by adding unnecessary or hidden charges to their total.

What's your favourite mainstream brand?
I’ve always been really happy with Color Club polishes--I think we have to give credit to the original Halo Hues collection for really pushing the holographic polish trend forward, and the original Poptastic neon cremes are still some of my favorite colors in my whole collection.

What's your favourite indie brand?
There are so many good ones, it’s really hard to pick! One of my favorites is Pepper Pot Polish, made by another local Tacoma lady. She’s got a really keen eye for color, and she’s recently branched out to lip glosses and eyeshadows as well!

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
We’re always striving to serve our customers better--to that end, we have a fan group on Facebook called the “It Girls Club” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1706336266277419/) where I sometimes ask questions and solicit ideas/feedback from customers and fans. We also keep a “Stamping Plate Suggestion Box” form (https://goo.gl/forms/ec67eLrEpXcqaQmJ2) for images or motifs that customers would like to see included on future stamping plates. We’re launching a handmade silicone stamper soon, and then we’ll have an all-in-one kit available for those who are brand new to stamping, including links to a how-to video! Look for that, plus more polishes, and stamping plates in 2017.


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