“Wild” and “Chaotic”: Inside the nail polish maker’s job

Beauty trends come and go, but nail polish is here to stay. While this may sound like a bold statement, nail polish has been around for 5,000 years and has continued to grow in popularity. Today, it is estimated that the nail polish industry has Market value $15 billion, which is expected to grow over the next decade by $10 billion.

Whether you enjoy getting your nails done at the salon or painting them at home, you’re probably no stranger to top nail polish brands like Essie, OPI, Deborah Lippmann, China Glaze, and Sally Hansen. But now, a new market is emerging: independent Polish brands.

We spoke to Michelle Lin, founder and CEO of Moncatto find out what it means to launch and run a successful independent purification brand.

Before starting Live Love Polish about 10 years ago (it was renamed Mooncat last year), Lin had no background in cosmetics or product development. Her background in nail polish was pretty similar to that of most of us: “I’ve always painted my nails and spent a lot of time shopping drugstores for nail polish, but I never felt like I could find exactly what I was looking for.”

This was around the same time that Amazon became the online shopping giant we know now. Lynn turned her search for nail polish online: “You can order a pillow online, and it’ll be on your doorstep in a couple of days, which is great. But when it comes to shopping for beauty products and things like nail polish, the online experience is completely lackluster.”

“It’s a very messy process. And we like to keep it that way.”

Lin, a struggling college student at the time, decided to fill that void. “I am proud to say that we were one of the first direct-to-consumer nail brands to bring the nail experience to life. We focused on imagery, product quality, and making unique things.”

The vibrant shades, glossy shine, and funky combos they make aren’t the typical store-bought polishes, and it all started with an online search. By learning the ins and outs of creating a polish on YouTube, Lin wanted to offer a quality product that is safe, cruelty-free, and vegan. Far from searching, creating these unique colors wasn’t something Lin could do on his own.

“I had a team backing me up on this,” Lynn said. To help her create the product she was envisioning, she brought in chemists and regulatory experts.

A chemist is key to creating a long-lasting nail polish formula that doesn’t glide on smoothly. Mooncat uses chemicals to test paint quality, thickness, lasting strength and vibrancy. Whatever problem arises, the chemist looks for a solution to get the desired consistency and color. On the other hand, regulatory experts ensure that all ingredients and formulas are safe for consumer use and follow Mooncat standards.

But before any of these tests can be done, Lynn has to come up with a nail polish color.

Mooncat mainly exports nail polish collections, such as the latest This is surreal Designation. Lane, a pioneer in art history, has always loved the surrealist painter Magritte. “Everything he does is absolutely amazing. I imagined reviving those colors of surrealist paintings.”

The Poseidon Prize is one of the colors in the Moncat Expedition: Atlantis Collection.

Thus the surrealist group was born. Other times, a single color might inspire a polishing group, which is exactly what happened with the last group Expedition: Atlantis.

“Our product designer created this magnetic, reflective blue color. The moment I saw it, I was like, ‘This is Atlantis.’ The bright, deep blue color sparked other thoughts.” I feel like we’re diving underwater or like I’m a pirate looking for treasure. Let’s bring this to life.”

The result was four additional colors in the Atlantis range, all inspired by the story created from blue paint. But this is not the end of the process. Once you’ve nailed the set, it’s time to label each individual polish.

Working with the copywriter, Lynn names her polishes in several ways. It might ask for a long list of ideas, or sometimes a color instantly inspires its name. This is what happened to the aforementioned blue paint.

“With the Atlantis set in blue, I realized that this must be something associated with the sea. So we named the Poseidon Prize to be kind of on the theme of the Atlantis set,” Lin said.

Once the collection is complete, it’s time to market the product. For Mooncat, most of this is done online.

“The reality of this generation is that the new business owner has to be both a business owner and a content creator.”

“You have to prioritize social media. There is no growth for businesses and brands nowadays without social media,” Lin said. “The reality of this generation is that the new business owner has to be both a business owner and a content creator.”

For those looking to get into the nail polish industry, Lynn made it clear that what you’re looking for in a Mooncat employee is likely not what the rest of the market is looking for. “We’re looking at things like thinking outside the box and getting creative and can you get a little wild? I don’t necessarily think those things resonate much with some of the brands out there.

However, I have given advice for those who want to start their own business, nail polish or otherwise. The first step, she said, is to research, “There are a lot of things on YouTube that can teach you how to make a product, whether it’s nail polish, jewelry, or soap.” Once you get more serious, she recommends bringing in the experts and having a strong social media presence to get your name out there.

For her brand, the steps from idea to final concept can get a little wild, but that’s how you want it to be.

“It’s a very messy process. We love to keep it that way,” she explained. “I think a lot of restrictions and a lot of structure when it comes to creativity can stop you from having fun. We’re trying to have a lot of fun.”

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