Q: Shed some light on what led you to create what is now known as Taupe Coat.
A: At my day job, I am an attorney. I practice civil law, which is not sexy and extremely stressful. Several years ago, I was really unhappy and trapped in the cycle of just waking up, going to work, coming home, watching tv, going sleep and repeat. I realized that I needed a hobby. I’ve always been SUPER into nail polish (it’s a habit I got from my mom), so I figured I’d find a way to make nail polish a hobby. Around this same time, I had just discovered “indie” nail polish brands because they tended to be less toxic that big nail polish. While I was in law school, I had part of my small intestine removed which kind of prompted me to make changes to my lifestyle to live a little healthier.
Anyway, most indie nail polish brands are usually ran by one woman who makes her own nail polish at home. I figured, if they were making their own polish, I could too. So I started making my own nail polish for myself at home and LOVED it. I could make the colors I wanted, I could experiment with glitter, and it was really the first time in my life I did something that was artsy or creative. A few years later when I was getting my financial life on track after years of poor money management, I was on the hunt to create a second stream of income. I had this list of ideas and then one night, I realized that I should start selling my nail polish. I felt stupid that I hadn’t thought of it before. That same night, I came up with the name Taupe Coat, called my brother to tell him about my idea and it's just carried on from there.
Q: What’s the story behind your nail polish names? Particularly Better Half, which was featured in the Love Yours Box and K St.A: I will admit that there is absolutely zero method to the madness of me naming my nail polish, but it’s definitely one of the most fun aspects of this business! I do keep a running list of sayings or words I hear that I think could be a cool name, or names that friends or family recommend (my grandpa has even sent me a list of his ideas). But usually how it works is after I create a shade I spend a few days thinking about a name before its official.
K St. is one of the only shades that I named before I made it. In DC, K St now is where all the lobbyists are, a bunch of law firms, and lots of business takes place. Whenever I have a big meeting or a huge court hearing, I like to wear red nail polish because it makes me feel like a boss. So, I named our signature red after K St. because it reminds me of boss women getting shit done.
Better Half, which was featured in the Love Yours Box is a light pink shade. I decided to name it Better Half because it’s the only shade I’ve made where I use exactly half of one pigment and half of another to create it. Plus I initially released it around Valentine’s day in 2017 so Better Half seemed thematic.
The other shade that I named before making was My Day Job, which is our signature taupe. Taupe is one of those colors that’s not real flashy, but its simple, it gets the job done, and I think is a shade that everyone who wears nail polish should have. It’s a necessity, like my day job, so that’s where it came from.
Q: What advice will you offer to other female entrepreneurs looking to start their own beauty business?
A: I think the best advice I have is to do it! Jumping into entrepreneurship is hands down the best decision I’ve made in my life so far, because it's given me a new perspective on everything, plus it makes me happy. I would say regarding the beauty industry specifically is that, for women of color, you should join the cosmetics space with the recognition that, like most things in America, it was not designed for “us”. And by us I mean non-white women. And I don’t say that as a bad thing, I say it because there is SO much opportunity for us in this space right now. We’ve been ignored for so long that we now have the chance to create the changes and products and marketing that we want to see. So join in! There is more than enough space.
Q: Love Yours Box is all about encouraging women to #loveyourselfmore. A mani and pedi is the perfect way to unwind when I need to relax and recharge. What do you do to #loveyourselfmore?A: Yes! A mani/pedi is definitely a part of my relaxation ritual. Along with practicing law and running Taupe Coat, I also own a warehouse with my brother, and I’m involved in the legal community in California, serving on different boards and committees. So I am ALWAYS on the move. And, I have this bad habit of feeling bad whenever I’m not being productive. So have to schedule time for myself, where I just do me and I picked Sunday afternoon for that. On Sunday its deep condition day for my hair. I carve out a few hours when I grab a bottle of wine, condition my hair, do my nails, put on some R&B, and just chill.
But another practice related to loving myself more, is that I’ve really made a huge effort to speak up for myself and my needs more. Several months ago, I was telling my friend Rachel about how I was having a rough time at my old job because working with one particular person was driving me crazy. I was getting anxiety, which I’d never experienced, and having nightmares, it was ridiculous. So I spoke to my supervisor, told them I didn’t want to work with that person anymore and they actually listened and made the change that I asked for. Rachel made a remark that that was an act of self care, which really spoke to me because I had never thought of speaking up for myself as self care. But it is!