How This Woman Turned Her Love of Nail Polish into a Company
Think you love nail polish more than anyone you know? Meet Aja Frierson, a woman who turned her love of color and the practice of painting her nails into an entire company. That’s right. Being a nail polish maker is a real thing, and naming each bottle of polish is a real task on this brilliant maker’s weekly to-do list.
Founded in June of 2013, Habit Cosmetics is an LA-based company that’s on a mission to make the most sustainable bottle of nail polish possible, without sacrificing style. Not only that, but Habit’s here to make your nails stronger. For real. Each bottle of polish strengthens nails naturally with Myrrh extract, is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free and 5-free of Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Dibutyl Phthalate and Camphor. Say that five times fast. And after you do that, head to the B+C Shop where you can browse all of Habit’s awesome color options.
Along with our photographer Chris, I spent a morning with Aja talking ’bout creativity, her story and all of the ideas I have for really cool nail polish names ;) Read on to learn more, and stay tuned for a post all about Aja’s favorite spots in LA!
How did you get your start? And what led you to starting Habit Cosmetics?
While creating color stories for shoes at a major American footwear company, I became obsessed with how small pops of color transform an entire look. At the same time, I fell in love with the ritual of painting my nails, but realized traditional polish left them weak and damaged. I decided to create an alternative. After many (too many!) rounds of experimenting to create the perfect formula, Habit was born in June of 2013.
What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?
Beauty inspires me: beauty in art and nature, in people and in everyday objects. Bringing more beauty into the world of the everyday was a major part of my inspiration to create Habit. Someone famous once said that everything in your home should either be useful or beautiful, but I think products can be both. So I would say that, while I sell nail polish, I’m also selling a beautiful product that hopefully inspires women and helps them to feel their best.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Just start working, with whatever you have, whether you feel you have the resources to complete your vision or not. You’ll end up figuring it out or having another idea that will work better. I know so many people that have great ideas and are probably more talented than I am, but they psych themselves out or make excuses for why they can’t execute their vision, and never actually produce anything. Of course you need a great product that a market exists for. But beyond that, action and hard work trump talent every time.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology hasn’t changed much for me, I guess because I started out depending on it, but it is definitely an integral part of almost everything I do. Apart from handling and shipping out the nail polish, my entire business is created and conducted through my computer! At least half of my life right now is spent on Adobe Illustrator, and going back and forth between millions of open tabs on Google Chrome.
What’s on your studio playlist?
My dad raisied me on jazz, so I’ve always loved it for stoking creavity. Jazz standards like Ella Fitzgerald or Bille Holiday are great, or some Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk. My dad also put me on to Marcus Miller, who plays a great bass guitar. Also, Sade and D’Angelo for everything (thanks Mom!). And electronica/indie is what I think you could call the other stuff? I’ve been into Esthero, Morcheeba and Hotel Costes’ mixes since high school. And Kindness, Woodkid, St. Vincent and Metronomy are amaze.
How do you get into the creative flow? How does it feel?
Honestly, I’m not one of those people that needs to get in the mood to work. I’m a doer, so I just jump into it! But as far as being creative, it helps to set aside the time to create whether you’re feeling inspired or not. Beyond that, music and hot tea are imperative! And when you’re creating products in particular, it also helps to search for inspirational images and ideas on Pinterest, and to put together mood boards.