Welcome to Indie Insight, the weekly series where I interview an awesome indie nail polish maker! This week we are chatting with Christy of KBShimmer. If you’re familiar with indie nail polish, you’re definitely familiar with KBShimmer- one of the pioneers of the indie polish movement, KBShimmer has grown a reputation for quality product and great customer service. Let’s get started!
How did you get into nail polish in the first place?
I remember loving polish even when a little girl, but I think high school was when I really fell in love and got into polish. I was hooked on manicures and pedicures, part of the fun was picking out new shades to use each time, still is!
When and why did you decide to start your own brand?
When I met my husband, I was amazed to see that both his parents had owned their own business for years. For me, my parents has worked at the same company for years, and expected myself to do the same. But I saw my In-laws heading to craft shows, and selling online and I was I love with the idea of working for myself. I started with making candles to sell at their shows, but set that aside when my daughter was born. Years later, after walking into a Basin and realizing I wanted to get back into a craft, and make something I could sell and enjoy, KBShimmer was born. We started with soaps and scrubs and later nail polish. It has now been 7 years this August and just like my In-Laws did, my husband and I both work full time at KBShimmer, and we employ three others.
Tell me how and why you chose your brand name.
KBShimmer is a nod to our daugther’s nickname, Katy Bug. When starting to pick names, we wanted something that had meaning to us, but was unique and not something you would find used for every other bath shop. So we decided to use the initials from the nick name, and then wanted to add something to it. At that point, we used a lot of shimmery mica colorants, still do really, so adding Shimmer was just a good fit. So KBShimmer it was!
What is your favorite collection you’ve released so far?
I can’t think of one collection I like more than others, but the Blogger Holiday collection from 2013 was a blast to work on.
What is your favorite individual polish you’ve released so far?
My personal favorite is Ice Queen. I fall hard for holographic glitters, and Ice Queen was one of my first polishes I made. I still reach for it to add bling to my cream colors. I think I have a new favorite that will be releasing soon though 😉
What’s your favorite polish ‘season’?
I am drawn to darker shades, so I think fall is my favorite. Many of my individual favorite colors have come from Fall collections.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your polishes?
From the world around me, nature is a huge inspiration for polishes. I have been at the zoo and been inspired, by the bird, the flowers, even the people there! I look at fashion, artwork, trending in colors themselves, to find inspirations. But sometimes I just stare at my glitters get a spark of creativity.
Do you tend to keep your collections seasonal, or do you make what you want, when you want to make it?
I tend to make polish when I want, then fit it into a seasonal collection. Without “themes” in collection, I find that most everything can fit in a season, or if it is year round, then I just fit in where it looks best.
Are there any types of polish that you don’t make yourself but buy a lot of from others?
Before we brought creams to our line, I would say cream. Now, if I buy anything it is special effect polishes like thermals or glow-in-the-dark, which are not something KBShimmer does.
You were one of the first brands to start creating indie polish. How have you seen the community change since you began making polish? Do you do anything differently now than you did in the past?
When I started, there were few establish makers, Etsy had 500 or so nail polishes listed, and Indie polish was still a mix of Franking and creating from scratch. There were many lessons learned, many failures, and new things being learned every day, and many in the nail world had never heard of Indie polish. Now, we have Indie makers featured in major magazine and we inspire the “big guys”. There are many supply shops, over 20,000 Etsy listing alone, and groups and blogs devoted to creating polish. I think that has brought the community together, especially on Facebook and social media as we learned and grew together.
Past failures have taught me to test longer. I may not be the first to put out polish with a new glitter, but what I use I know works.
No one can deny that your brand is still immensely successful in the indie polish world & often is the one recommended to first time indie buyers. What do you attribute your success to?
Soon after I started selling polish, there was a shortage of polish base. There was a limited supply spilt between many sellers. This lead many of us to do “restocks”, limited amounts of polish listed at a pre-determined time. That lead to frustration from buyers, as cart jacking and products selling out in seconds was common.
I knew that as soon as I could get my hands on supplies, I wanted to do what I could to keep polish in stock at all times. So, I bought as much base as I could afford when we located it in bulk, and ordered more glitter then I had seen in my life! I put polish on my website and let buyers order when they wanted and made sure I had the supplies to fill all the demand.
I think this really helped my brand. No longer did my customers have to stalk websites or worry about products selling out, they could get what they wanted, when they wanted.
How many bottles do you own in your personal collection?
No clue. Right now I have three helmers filled with a mix of KBShimmer polishes I have for my personal use and polishes from other brands.
Other than your own brand, which brand do you have the most of in your collection?
Probably OPI or China Glaze. I have a lot of creams from those two brands.
Do you do polish work full-time or do you also have a day job?
Both my husband and I work for KBShimmer full time. We also have three employees that help us out!
What has been your biggest struggle in polish making?
I think that figuring out where to get supplies was my biggest frustration at first. Now that we have quality suppliers, I think that the biggest struggle has been figuring out how to make and bottle larger batches. We first started by pouring from mixing container to the bottle, then with syringes, not we use squirt bottles and have a filling machine for huge batches.
What is your favorite thing about making or selling polish?
Easily naming the polish is my favorite thing. I giggle thinking about some of the names. I love using puns and plays on idioms to name polish, and it is so fun to think of crazy ways to twist sayings!
We all know glitter can be really messy and stick to everything- how do you keep all of your glitter, pigments and mixing tools organized?
We have a huge wall of glitter on shelves, and fire cabinets for our base and colors. Everything is in its place, if it is not, we would go crazy looking for stuff!
Tell me about your creating process- from first idea through to finished product.
We usually start with a color combo, from whatever inspired us. Making the base color comes first, and that happens drop by drop until we are happy. Then we usually have a good idea of what glitters to add, but it is still a lot of trial and error. Adding, stirring, looking, swatching, rinse and repeat. We often find ourselves getting out the flashlight or heading outside to test the bling factor.
How many prototypes do you typically have for every polish that actually makes it into a collection?
The way we work, it usually takes only 2 or 3 tries to get a polish perfect, so not many. We do have quite a pile of “fails” though, things that we discarded as not right for the next collection, or too close to something else we have. We have a huge prototype pile right now!
The maker/blogger relationship is one that is pretty important in the indie world. How do you decide which bloggers to work with?
Working with bloggers has been a huge benefit to my polish brand. Bloggers can make or break a polish, actually both the company and individual shades depending on their critiques and swatches. I look for bloggers that are/can:
-Drama free (in the past and currently, both on Facebook and on other social media outlets), professional, well written and on topic.
-Active and frequently post with new, author created material.
-Create timely material and showcase products shortly after receiving samples or within stated timeframe.
-Has a readership that is active, commenting, following links to site, sharing material.
-If applicable, swatches that are in focus, well lit, neat, and color accurate. Hands that are taken care of and pictures that are close and focused on the polish.
-Live within the US. We do not ship outside the US
-Not currently (or planning to) in business selling nail polish or bath and body goods.
– Although not required, showing support of KBShimmer through previous blog posts, purchases, guest blog posts, posting press releases, etc is a plus.
What was the moment that your brand really started to take off and be noticed? When you first started, what did you do to get your name out there?
I think it was when a nail group was looking for white creally polishes. They found and old polish I called Party, and I sold all that I had in an hour or two. From there, it was just communicating about new releases on social media, working with bloggers, and making sure to communicate with customers.
What’s your favorite polish not made by you?
OPI I’m Not Really A Waitress. Has been a favorite for years!
With so many indies on the market now, what do you think sets your brand apart?
There are three things I think set KBShimmer apart. I think that we have kept our prices reasonable since the beginning. We have done what we can to make our products accessible and easy to purchase but keeping stock at all time, and being on several venues like Amazon, Etsy and Harlow & Co in addition to our own site. I also think we have some pretty unique polishes!
Let’s talk a little about the person behind the brand- what hobbies do you have outside of nail polish?
I am a pretty boring person. If not working you will probably find me on my kindle reading. I love paranormal books with a touch or romance. Like Outlander, The Dresden Files, Sookie, etc. When we can, we love to travel to warm places. My husband loves Disney World and we try to head there once a year.
Do you have any pets? Tell me about them!
We have three cats, two were adopted from the shelter, and one was rescued from being a barn cat. Charlie came first, then Shelly and last Ozzie. Shelly and Ozzie are both black cats, and Charlie is black and white.
Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
I love Bingo. Sometimes I feel like an old lady with my reading and bingo. But, I also have magenta purple, blond and blue hair, so I guess that keeps me young!
What’s your favorite kind of food?
Pizza, with pepperoni and green olives please!
Thanks again for chatting with us, Christy! Talk to me in the comments and let me know what you think of this brand- have you tried them out before? What other brands would you like to see interviewed in the future? Let me know!
If you liked this interview, make sure to check out the other ones in the indie insight tag!