NONTOXIC NAIL POLISH FOR VARIOUS SHADES OF BROWN SKIN
Picking the perfect shade of nail polish can often be the most overwhelming step in getting your manicure. The process gets even more complicated when you’re trying to commit to shade but are unsure if it will compliment all your skin tone. Thankfully, this process has become much easier due to People of Color, a vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic nail polish brand that compliments various shades of brown skin. We caught up with Carrington to find out what inspired her to start her business, what she’s learned along the way, and what it means to share shelf space with other Black-owned brands at Sweet July’s flagship store.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start your brand?
I was inspired by my daughter, Monroe, who was three at the time, in February 2019. Her and my son would spend the night at my mom’s, and when they came home, Monroe’s nails were always painted. Her interest in nail polish rekindled mine and made me think back to my childhood. Growing up, I played basketball, so I usually only wore a topcoat. I also realized that I never saw nail polish shown on brown hands. It made me skip wearing nail polish altogether. I thought, what if someone made a nail polish brand called People of Color that picked out colors that complemented the various shades of brown skin from all over the world as the first thought, not an afterthought? So I did!
How did you get your business off the ground?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur and tried many ideas. I’ve also successfully launched and ran a commercial cleaning business in the past, so I knew the basics of starting and running a business. However, I didn’t know much about nail polish, so it took a bit of research to find a quality manufacturer to launch with and to hone in on the quality of the product I wanted to have while also being what I could afford. Behind the scenes, the website and social media had to get built out, and we officially launched on May 17, 2019!
Can you shed some insight into your creative process?
Our nail polish collections always launch with a theme, so we are inspired by a theme to choose our colors and the names of the polishes. I am creative by nature, so most times, things just come to me as far as ideas and the visions I see for the running of the brand. I think staying inspired helps me remain creative.
What keeps you inspired?
I’m continually inspired by our growing community of customers and supporters, nature/outdoors, my children, seeing what started as an idea grow into what it has, legacy building, and making an impact in an industry that typically viewed brown skin as an afterthought (or even no thought). Also, our collective stories and varied cultures among PoC communities from around the world inspire me for the brand, as we want to share those stories and celebrate us through our nail polishes.
Growing up, I never saw nail polish shown on brown hands. It made me skip wearing nail polish altogether. I thought, ‘what if someone made a nail polish brand called that picked out colors that complemented the various shades of brown skin from all over the world, as the first thought, not an afterthought? So I did!
Sweet July Oakland is located on The Block—an area known for its community of Black women-owned businesses. How does it feel to share space with this group of entrepreneurs?
It is such an honor to be sold in a store that carries such a strong sense of community and pride that is represented within “The Block.” We are grateful to Ayesha and the Sweet July team for providing such a beautiful space both in-store and online to share our nail polishes with the world! It is a testament that we can do anything we put our minds to and that we can make a bigger positive impact together.
How has the push to support Black-owned businesses fueled by the racial reckoning of 2020 impacted your business?
The push to support Black-owned businesses has had a positive impact on People of Color. Although we were trending upward with our growth and social community, the accumulation of events in 2020 really propelled our brand into a bigger audience and opportunities that may not have happened otherwise at that time.
How are you navigating the struggles and woes of running a business during a pandemic?
The biggest struggle has been navigating running a business from home with three toddlers–ages 1, 3, and 5. Trying to keep the kids busy, doing Pre-K schoolwork, and all the other day-to-day operations of a business and a household is very draining. However, the fact that I am living my dream of working for myself while being home with my kids is truly a blessing that I don’t take for granted. Giving myself grace when I’m not able to achieve all the things I planned for a day has helped me a lot during this journey.
How do you practice self-care while balancing the rigors of entrepreneurship?
My self-care comes by way of working out in the mornings and doing Bible study in the evenings. Those are my much-needed moments to myself. I also love going to the beach; it’s my happy place
What are some challenges that you’ve faced, and how have you overcome those obstacles?
Some challenges that I’ve faced since launching were learning about social media marketing and the financial burden of scaling. Thankfully, I discovered some great social media and marketing accounts that teach social media marketing strategies via IG Live. I also discovered you can buy Threads comments from themarketingheaven.com if you want your posts to perform well. I started implementing what I was learning and started to see results. As far as the financial burden of scaling, I was able to get business loans from friends and family to help fulfill retail orders. Because major retailers don’t pay upfront for their purchase orders, a brand has not to know fund their order while maintaining enough cash flow for their own operations; they also have to wait 30-90 days to get paid. It is a considerable burden to overcome if a business does not have capital to tap into.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your entrepreneurship journey?
Keep going, even if it seems like nothing is happening. Someone is always watching, someone is always inspired, someone is always motivated by watching you build brick by brick, day by day. Eventually, the sum of your actions will start to equal wins. Keep going!
What advice would you give to others who have dreams of launching their own business?
Start, and start today! You may not be ready to launch today, but you have to start taking the steps to launch–whether that be research, putting money aside for a start up costs or securing a domain and social media account name. Also, tread lightly on who you share your dreams and ideas with. Not everyone can see or understand your vision, so they may project their negative thoughts and fears onto you, which may hinder your belief that you can achieve your dreams.