Welcome to Indie Insight, the weekly series where I interview an awesome indie nail polish maker! This week we are chatting with Kim of Smokey Mountain Lacquers. Let’s get started!
How did you get into nail polish in the first place?
I’ve always been a beauty junkie but got bored with the mainstream polishes. I purchased my first Indie polish from Philly Loves Lacquer (can’t remember the name of the polish). I was so impressed with the polish that I decided to start my own brand.
When and why did you decide to start your own brand?
After many months of research I opened shop and launched my first collection on August 25, 2013. I became bored with the usual polishes so I figured I would give polish making a shot!
Tell me how and why you chose your brand name.
I live in the Appalachian Mountains specifically near the Smokey Mountains so it really was a no brainer. Some think my spelling is incorrect but it isn’t. I used the old spelling of Smokey.
What is your favorite collection you’ve released so far?
I would say The Heritage Collection. It allowed me to combine my ancestry with my husband’s ancestry. All polishes were given Native American, German, British and Irish names. I think my upcoming Long Tide No Sea Collection will become my favorite as well.
What is your favorite individual polish you’ve released so far?
My very first polish, Raging Hormones, which was a red linear holo. A lot of giggles were had over that polish because people assumed the name meant something nasty and it didn’t. I swear.
What’s your favorite polish ‘season’?
I enjoy all of the polish seasons so I really don’t have a favorite season.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your polishes?
From the beautiful scenery in my area and ideas that just pop into my head.
Do you tend to keep your collections seasonal, or do you make what you want, when you want to make it?
I do a little of both. I’ll make seasonal collections, certain holidays but mainly what others want or would like to see.
Are there any types of polish that you don’t make yourself but buy a lot of from others?
I don’t make a lot of jellies or crellies. I usually only make those if there’s a lot of interest. I mainly swap with other makers so that’s where my crellies come from.
How many bottles do you own in your personal collection?
This is embarrassing to answer but I only have 28 polishes in my personal collection and that isn’t counting my own line.
Other than your own brand, which brand do you have the most of in your collection?
Gothic Gala Lacquers and Philly Loves Lacquer
Do you do polish work full-time or do you also have a day job?
I am blessed to be able to do polish full time.
What has been your biggest struggle in polish making?
Getting my brand out there among all the other makers and standing out.
What is your favorite thing about making or selling polish?
I love creating everything I make and it makes me smile to know a little of my heart, soul and hard work went into my polishes.
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?
I keep my micas in the original packaging they come in. Same for liquid colorants. I also leave my glitter in the baggies but have them all sorted by color.
Tell me about your creating process- from first idea through to finished product.
Most of the time ideas come to me first. Then I start creating the polish beginning with color. I then decide what finish would look best for the polish (holo, glitter, cream, shimmer) and add it. I then swatch on a nail wheel to see how many coats the polish will take to be opaque on the nail. If I’m happy with all of that then I pour from the condiment cup I mixed in to a polish bottle. Usually the name for polish comes last and is the hardest thing for me to do for some reason. After naming the polish I then write the recipe on an index card, mix a small batch and index card goes into a little alphabetical box I have. I have never thrown away any of my recipes.
How many prototypes do you typically have for every polish that actually makes it into a collection?
I don’t have prototypes because I trash the polish unless it meets all my standards.
The maker/blogger relationship is one that is pretty important in the indie world. How do you decide which bloggers to work with?
First I want to say that I love ALL my bloggers! Without them I couldn’t do this! Things I look for is good photo quality and good nail, cuticle and hand care. Numbers don’t matter to me unless it’s a brand new blogger and then I usually wait for them to grow a little.
What was the moment that your brand really started to take off and be noticed?
I think my brand has really started to take off within the last few weeks especially by larger bloggers. I rely on my bloggers mainly to get my name out there but I also love reposting customer mani’s on all of my social media.
What’s your favorite polish not made by you?
I don’t have favorite polishes by others per se as much as I have favorite brands.
With so many indies on the market now, what do you think sets your brand apart?
The quality of my polishes and my other products, my great customer service and my love of interacting with my customers and fans.
Let’s talk a little about the person behind the brand- what hobbies do you have outside of nail polish?
I love to paint, hike, walk, spend time with my family and pets and cook.
Do you have any pets? Tell me about them!
I have three pets. Two cats. One named Rambo and the other is Lilly. I have one dog and his name is Bailey. My pets aren’t just pets, they are my fur babies. Bailey has had epilepsy since he was 1 and even though he’s 11 now it’s still hard to watch. My cats entertain me constantly with all their playing habits. Rambo is the newest addition. He is a tuxedo cat. Lilly is a blue tipped Siamese. Bailey is a bi-color cocker spaniel.
Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?
I’m very shy and love horror movies
What’s your favorite kind of food?
There’s so many! I love pasta and Indian cuisine.
Thanks again for chatting with us, Kim! 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!