Makeup Makers: Indie Nail Line KBShimmer Develops the Glitter Nail Polish of Your Dreams

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Christy Rose has a penchant for color, rainbows, and crayons—anything fun or bright draws her right in. She also loves a good pampering session with hot, scented bathes and loads of mani/pedis—it's only natural that she would go on to launch bath and body company KBShimmer in 2008, named after her daughter Katy Bug.

Enticing her customers with handmade marbled soaps and fizzing, colorful bath bombs, the beauty entrepreneur realized the popularity of Frankenpolishes (handmade glitter nail color) and eventually introduced her own line of precisely formulated, blogger-adored lacquers. We're hypnotized! As exciting and glitzy as the colors look, there’s a whole other side to running a successful business; Christy tells us the recipe for creating her signature glitter nail color and the secret to building an even greater brand.

B: What did you feel was missing in the nail world before your line took off?

When I started making polish, it seemed that there were not a lot of polish makers that focused on making color polishes; a large amount were glitter top coats meant to be worn over other colors. I wanted to utilize more color in my line, and making a polish that could be worn alone was important to me.

B: Do you think concept of an opaque glitter polish is appealing to your customers?

I think a lot of people liked the all-in-one-polish that I offer.  I also offer other products such as handmade soap, sugar scrubs, lotions, lip balms and bath bombs. Being able to offer one-stop shopping for those wanting bath products from a small business has really been something I have gotten positive feedback on.

B: That’s great feedback! What else do you like about being a small business?

Indie nail polish lines are able to connect directly with the consumer. We can talk to our customers and make changes quickly if need be. Many indie lines do custom polishes, working with individuals to create a unique polish just for them. We also have the freedom to get a bit wild. Where a mainstream line may not want to take the risk of using wild colors and glitters, we can.

B: Can you explain your creative process?

Every color I make starts by something I am inspired by.  It may be colors in nature, places I go, a specific color, or even a specific glitter; I pay attention to trends in fashion too. Each recipe and color is processed many times in my head before I make a test batch. I then take the idea in my head, add the individual components until the mix is where I want it to be.

B: Your colors are hypnotizing. Have any favorites at the moment?

It is hard to pin down my favorite polish.  Right now it is probably Oh Splat, a white polish filled with a rainbow’s worth of glitter in sizes from small to large. I also love Lilac Dreams, which is a pretty purple polish with a pink shimmer. Clown Puke is my favorite glitter top coat.

B: Hand-mixing nail colors in small batches seems tedious—how did you perfect your nail recipes?

The key to perfecting a recipe is testing. Every glitter, every color I use is tested in my nail polish base to ensure stability. I take detailed notes along the way so I can reproduce my successful batches or learn from what’s not working; it’s very much trial and error.

B: What's been the biggest obstacle for KBShimmer so far?

The biggest challenge so far has been finding a look for my brand and product packaging that I love as much as the products themselves.  I redid my logo and packaging about a year ago, and I think it really improved the look and feel of my products.

B: Where do nail polishes fit in your larger business vision?

Since I was in business selling other bath and body products before the nail trend really hit, I think I have a solid place in the indie cosmetics industry as a whole.  Nail polish may be a newer part of my line, but I strive to put out quality products that people love. I also don’t plan on going anywhere soon. KBShimmer is my full-time job so even if others leave the industry, I will still be around for my customers.

I think that indie businesses are pushing nail art to the next level, and are really listening to the wants and needs of the consumers. I see more mainstream lines taking inspiration from indie sellers and feel that we are really leading the way.

B: Any advice to those nail aficionados looking to start their own brand?

I highly encourage them to spend time testing ingredients and getting familiar with cosmetic and selling regulations in their area. The best way to fail before even starting is to not prepare properly. Many think crafting a handmade polish is easy, but with colors that fade, glitters that bleed, curl, or melt, testing all the components you will be using is so important.

Indie polish is new, so often we are learning right along with our suppliers. Right now there are shops opening almost daily—it’s a competitive market out there, so test and do your research before jumping in, and be prepared to work hard at being noticed. It took months for my polish line to get to the point it is at now.

All nail application photos are included with express permission from manicurator.com.