Sunday, 9 June 2013

Crumpet Chats To ..... Smitten Polish

Hi Goddesses

Welcome again to Crumpet Chats To.  This week it's the turn of a polish maker, and I am joined by the lovely Noelie from Smitten Polish.  

Smitten Polish was born on 31 May 2012, but it's a brand I have come to quite late.  Initially, a lot of Smitten's polishes were milky glitterbombs which are just not my thing.  However, towards the end of last year, the colours started smashing through, and ever since, I've been in love. 

The polishes all apply beautifully, and Noelie seems to have a special affinity for blues.  As we go through our chat, you'll see photos of some of her best polishes - many thanks to Manicurator, Edie 4711, and Things I Love At The Moment for the use of their images.

What’s your earliest polish memory

I remember being fascinated by my mom's nail polish. She just had a few, and they were all Cutex polishes. They had these massively long, skinny brush handles. I was young enough that I had to stand on the toilet to be able to look into the medicine cabinet to see them, so that was quite a long time ago!

What was the polish that started it all for you

The 1994 release of Chanel Vamp. I was sort of into polish before that, always on the lookout for more interesting colors and finishes, but Vamp was a game changer. I remember having to be on a waiting list for it at Macy's, and I think I went through three entire bottles of it in the '90s. I was hooked after that!

Travelling By Bubble

When did it go from enjoyment to full on polishaholic-ness / obsession

I reckon that was probably about five years ago now. Once I realized that there were nail blogs, it was all over. The sheer amount of colors and finishes that were available was mind boggling to me, and I dove right in!

How many polishes do you own

I honestly stopped counting once I started making polish because I just don't have time to keep track, but I'd guess between 350 and 400. 

Merry and Bright - HOW stunning?

If there was a fire and you could save only one polish, what would it be

Sally Hansen Turquoise Opal. I own the same shade in a different brand now that's better and more opaque, but Turquoise Opal was a gift from a dear friend, so that's the one I would grab. 

Which is your favourite brand and why

Probably Zoya. Of the mainstream brands, they are the one that tends to put out the most colors and finishes that seem to call to me. I also have small nails myself, and their brush is just perfect to me. I also really love China Glaze though.

Which brand do you own the most of

Last time I checked, it was China Glaze... but Zoya was a very close second!

Look To The Western Sky

As a polish wearer, what’s the best tip you’ve picked up along the way

Wrapping tips to prolong wear. It's insane how much longer my polish lasts now that I always wrap my tips.

Do you also have a day job

Smitten is my day job... and my night job! 

What prompted you to start making polishes

I had been frankening for myself and for friends for a while, and I found that I was pretty good at it. Once supplies starting becoming more readily available for making polish from scratch, my husband encouraged me to give it a try, and Smitten Polish was born. =)


How difficult is it to get started – what’s involved

Getting started was a lot more work than I was expecting. You have to decide which components you want to start out with (glitters, pigments, bases), order small quantities of them, and begin testing for stability, as well as starting to formulate colors. Then there's the nuts and bolts parts of it - bottles, caps, brushes, labels, coming up with your logo, deciding where to sell, figuring out how to keep track of everything, figuring out what works and what doesn't for your workspace and work flow, accounting, taxes, shipping supplies, the best ways to promote your brand. It is a LOT OF WORK!

How long did it take from the idea to the first saleable polish

It took a few months for me, I don't exactly remember.

How did you decide your brand name

My husband came up with the name... thankfully since I couldn't come up with anything good!

Spice Cake

What was your vision for your brand

I can't really say I had a vision, per se. I just thought I'd make some polishes that I liked, and see if other people liked them too. My expectations weren't really high; I figured at best, I'd have a few extra bucks a month to spend on more polish. I could never have predicted the kind of success that I've achieved, and I'm incredibly thankful for it. 

How do you decide where to sell eg Etsy v an e-tailer

I went with Etsy primarily because I feel that Etsy has a built-in buyer base. People are familiar with it, and there were already other brands selling polishes there. Etsy isn't cheap, but I've stuck with it thus far because of that, plus it is super user-friendly. For the time being, it's worth the extra cost to me to stick with something I know and that's easy for me to manage. My polishes are also sold through several distributors now too. They approached me, and I just had to decide if it was something I could handle - which it turns out I can!

What was the first polish you made and did it ever make it to sale
The first one I made with the intention to sell was Blueberry Crumble, and yes, it made it to sale. =)

What’s the proportion of prototypes to saleables – how many make it through the process

At this point, I'd say probably 60% of them make it through - but it's worth mentioning that that number has gone up exponentially as I've gotten more experienced and gotten better at the whole process. I have a far greater understanding of the proportions of various colorants and glitters that work for me, so there's less guesswork than when I was first starting out. I still have some that take a LOT of work to get them where I want them though, especially if I'm working with a new pigment. 

Hocus Pocus - purple wow!

What defines whether a polish makes it through the process – why do some of them “not work”

Some are just plain ugly! There are times when the concept sounds great in your head, but the execution is just terrible. There are others where the pigment doesn't end up with the right opacity, no matter how much I tweak it, or the application is bad or I can't get the glitter mix right. There are lots of reasons why something might end up in the junk box, really. 

Which polish is your favourite child
This one changes all the time! If I had to pick an all time favorite, it would probably be Hydrangea. But I love so many of the other ones that they sort of rotate into my top spot. =)

How do you decide on polish names

It really depends on how the polish is created. Some of mine are made with a very specific thing in mind, like the collection that I did based on the musical Wicked. The names of those polishes were part of the entire concept of the polishes from day one. But sometimes I'll just sit and play with no real concept in mind - either I have new pigments or new glitters that have passed the testing process that I'm ready to work with, or I'll just be in a creative mood and sit down to see what happens. Those are generally a beast for me to name since I had no concept going into it. Those often end up being named by either my fans and customers or by my husband. He's really great at names! 

How do you decide on themes for your collections

The themes are usually whatever I'm obsessed with at the moment. =) I started formulating the Wicked collection the week after seeing Wicked for the first time, for example. I'm a research oriented person, so when something catches my interest, I start reading about it. I know a ton of useless little factoids about Wicked, and I probably know a lot more than I need to about shipwrecks now!

Sunken Galleon

How did you “get your name out there”

I had a nail blog when I started, and I introduced Smitten there. I know that it helped that I was somewhat known in the nail community already. I built a Facebook page and started working with bloggers. It was a pretty organic process for me since I was already in the nail community. 

Can you pinpoint moments where your brand has grown, and what triggered them

I know that there have been moments where there were surges of growth, but I usually have no idea what caused them. I always suspect that some blogger that I'm not aware of posted some really stunning pictures that sent people to my shop - but I'm never quite positive!

What’s your most popular polish and why do you think that is
Adeste Fidelis, and I have no idea! It was part of my first holiday collection, which for the record performed rather dismally overall, but that one really took off. I conceptualized it as sort of a riff on the traditional red/green motif, with colors that reminded me of the opulence of some of the European cathedrals that I've seen. It absolutely never occurred to me that it was a shade that would translate outside the holiday season, but it does, and people have been gaga over it! 

Do you get tingles when you see other people post swatches of your polish?

I do now... it actually used to sort of creep me out though. It was just so weird and surreal, but I've gotten used to it. =)

Siren's Song - duochrome

How did you decide which bloggers to work with – how important is it to pick the “right” blogger, or has it been about getting the most exposure / using many bloggers to spread the word

The most valuable thing to me are really excellent photographs. I find most indies to be super difficult to photograph well, I think maybe because they're so complex, and finding bloggers who can make them look as good as they look in person is really important to me. The second most important thing is that I get along with and like the person. That might not be the most professional way to go about it, but hey - this is my business, and that means I'm gonna do my best to surround myself with people that I like! =)

How do you feel when you see people do nail art with your polish – does it give it a new life or ruin the aesthetics?

It really depends. I've seen swatches where the nail art completely obliterated the polish, so it's hard to see what it even looks like. For me, that kind of ruins the whole point of having the swatch. But if there's a picture of the polish on its own and then a picture of it with the nail art, that's something I really like to see! 

Pink Lemonade

Where do you see your brand a year from now

This industry is still so new that it's hard for me to imagine where Smitten might be in a year. I'm hopeful though, and I'm just going where the road takes me. =)

Whose nails do you wish you had

Sarah from Chalkboard Nails! Gah, I have such a crush on her nails. 

Whose blog do you wish you had

Probably Chalkboard Nails again - I'd just sit and admire my beautiful nails and pictures if I were her. =)

Which blogger inspires you

I can't think of one in particular, but most nail bloggers inspire me because they work so hard to support this hobby that we all love so much. =)

Which polish brand do you wish you owned – indie

Pahlish! Shannon is such a genius with color, and her formulas are always simply fabulous. 

Pink Goes Good With Green - one of the very rare green polishes I like!

If you were the CEO of one of the major brands, what changes would you make

I would hire people with real creative chops, people who could come up with new and innovative shades and finishes and combinations.

What are you proudest of that you’ve achieved as a polish maker

I'm just happy that I'm able to provide for myself and my family while doing something that I love. =)

Where do you create – describe your workspace

My workspace is in a spare bedroom. It's two big folding tables arranged in an L shape, with tiered shelves along the walls for the glitters and pigments that I use. I try very hard to keep it organized, but it is honestly a train wreck most days. The creative process is not even remotely neat for me, and things always end up scattered around. This is how it looks at its neatest, but it nearly never looks like this:

How do you stay original – how many polishes do you test and then find someone else is doing something similar

Yeah, this is a challenge because we're all pulling from a relatively small pool of ingredients that work in polish. I just create what I'm moved to create, to be honest. There are a few that I've pulled for being too similar to something else. I've had a handful that I've gone to other creators and asked, "Is this too close to yours? Is it okay if I release it?" 

This can be extra challenging for me, I think, because I am extremely detail oriented, to the point that sometimes it's hard for me to see the big picture. I've seen blog posts where people have compared two polishes that they think are similar - to my eye, the polishes are nothing alike, and I end up baffled that anyone could think they're the same. That's just the way my mind works, and I struggle a lot with seeing things the way other people might see them. 

If you could only be remembered for one polish you’ve made, which would it be
Grey Matters
Probably Grey Matters, the polish I did for brain tumor awareness. That's the one that meant the most to me personally, and it also meant a great deal to me that I was in a position to raise awareness and also raise funds for something important. 

You can follow Smitten Polish on Facebook HERE.

You can buy Smitten Polish from her Etsy store HERE.  The Shipwrecked Collection launched this week with some really intense hues - go and check it out :)

You can also buy Smitten Polish from various e-tailers including Llarowe, Shoppe Eclectico, Femme Fatale and Edgy Polish.

Enjoy xx :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips