Welcome to Indie Insight, the weekly series where I interview an awesome indie nail polish maker! This week we are chatting with Noelie of Smitten Polish. Although she makes a variety of beautiful shades, Smitten Polish is definitely well known for incredible holo polishes. Let’s get started!
How did you get into nail polish in the first place?
I stopped biting my nails when I was a junior in high school, and much to my surprise, what grew in were strong, healthy nails. I started sort of getting into polish then, but options were pretty limited at first. The first different polishes I remember were Hard Candy and Urban Decay. Around that same time, Chanel released Vamp, and the obsession began.
When and why did you decide to start your own brand?
I opened Smitten in May of 2012. I’ve always been into artsy-craftsy stuff, so it was a no-brainer for me to start frankening when that became a thing. I liked doing it quite a lot, and my husband encouraged me to see if I could make a go of it – so I did!
Tell me how and why you chose your brand name.
My husband chose it. We were searching for a name that went well with “polish,” and Smitten Polish was a play on “spit and polish.”
What is your favorite collection you’ve released so far?
Holiday 2013 – the collection inspired by the movie Love Actually.
What is your favorite individual polish you’ve released so far?
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ANSWER THAT?!? Just kidding. 😉 Probably Himalayan Blue Poppy. It’s my favorite shade of blue.
What’s your favorite polish ‘season’?
Spring! I love both pastels and brights so much. They just make me happy.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your polishes?
Everywhere! Sometimes it’s something I see when I’m out and about. Other times it’s an image that pops up on Google. Movies. Books. Everywhere!
Do you tend to keep your collections seasonal, or do you make what you want, when you want to make it?
I’ve been mostly doing seasonal, but I’ve been finding it sort of limiting in a way. I’ll probably start to intersperse seasonal with collections I just feel like making.
Are there any types of polish that you don’t make yourself but buy a lot of from others?
How many bottles do you own in your personal collection?
*checks spreadsheet* 517!
Other than your own brand, which brand do you have the most of in your collection?
Commercial – Zoya. Indie – Takko.
Do you do polish work full-time or do you also have a day job?
Smitten is my full time job.
What has been your biggest struggle in polish making?
The neverending search for new and interesting ingredients.
What is your favorite thing about making or selling polish?
I like so much about it. The creative process is really great therapy for me sometimes. Getting into the groove of mixing existing colors for a restock makes me feel super productive, which is also nice. And I love my customers and interacting with them. =)
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?
Wait, I’m supposed to organize that stuff?
It’s taken over my life. Bottles, jars and baggies EVERYWHERE. I really desperately need a better setup.
Tell me about your creating process- from first idea through to finished product.
Well, the idea part varies. Sometimes I go into it knowing exactly what I want to make. Himalayan Blue Poppy was that way. I saw a photo of the actual flower when I was searching for something else, and I HAD to make a polish to match it. From there it was many prototypes to get the color right, then more trying to decide on the amount of holo pigment, etc.
Other times, I’ll just sit down with a bunch of ingredients and see where they take me. Sometimes it’s starting with the base color; other times, I’ll have a particular pigment that I want to make shine. Basically it’s just fiddling until I have something I like.
How many prototypes do you typically have for every polish that actually makes it into a collection?
Sometimes it’s just one, though the perfect-in-one-shot ones are much rarer. I’d say probably five prototypes is typical for me, but sometimes that number is MUCH higher.
The maker/blogger relationship is one that is pretty important in the indie world. How do you decide which bloggers to work with?
The first thing is the pictures, because that’s the most important thing to me. If the photos are good, then I want to know more. It’s important to me that the pictures showcase the polish – I’m not impressed by fancy hand poses and pics that have lots of post work done to them. I want the polish to look reasonably like it does in person.
The second factor for me is personality. I’m a relatively friendly person, and I do best working with people that I feel are friendly too. Smart, snarky and fun are all pluses too. =) I look for reviews that are honest, without also being mean-spirited.
The last thing I look at is how many people that blogger is likely to reach. It’s not my top concern, but a decent following really is sort of a must since what we are trying to do here is sell polish. =)
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 was honestly one of the lucky ones that got a following right out of the gate. I just posted on my blog that I had started my own brand (I was a nail blogger too!), and then started reaching out to people to swatch them.
What’s your favorite polish not made by you?
Probably Takko Jabberwocky. That’s my answer for today, anyway. 😉
With so many indies on the market now, what do you think sets your brand apart?
This is a hard question to answer! I don’t know. I like doing fun colors with fun and interesting names. I feel like I play to my strengths by making what I actually LIKE – holos and holo microglitters in particular, along with interesting shimmers. Basically if I don’t like it, I won’t sell it, and I think that shows in the quality of my work.
Let’s talk a little about the person behind the brand- what hobbies do you have outside of nail polish?
So many things. I read a ton. I crochet. I’ve just started dyeing my own yarn. I do polymer clay art. I draw and paint, using both traditional and digital media. I’ve been drawing since I was probably 7 or 8 years old. Basically if it’s an arts and crafts type thing, I’m there. =)
Do you have any pets? Tell me about them!
We have three cats – Cassie, Addie and Brie. They were all rescues, and all three are completely spoiled. Brie is the eldest, and she is the most standoffish. She is also the princess of the household. Addie is the middle child, and she is nearly always stuck to me like a barnacle, but she is quite shy around other people. Cassie is our most recent addition, and she is super friendly and a total clown.
Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
Not that I can think of! =)
What’s your favorite kind of food?
Thai. Mexican. Indian. Chinese. Maybe in that order. =)
Thanks again for chatting with us, Noelie! 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!