CD: In 2013, Base Coat was founded in Denver as the first non-toxic nail spa in the city and was also one of just a few in the United States to be truly non-toxic. Tell us a little about why you started.
TW: I was pregnant with her fourth kiddo Heshers, I decided I wanted one last pedicure before went into labor. Upon waiting for a treatment at a neighborhood salon, my nose started bleeding and became nauseous due to being so sensitive to all of the smells and harsh chemicals. I immediately walked out and followed my gut, I knew this couldn’t be good – everyone is always so conscious about the foods they eat, but didn’t think as much about what they put on their bodies. After a couple of years of researching non-toxic products especially nail polish, I realized there was a need for a healthy salon environment that everyone could benefit from, especially pregnant and nursing moms and those with allergies. In 2013, Base Coat was founded in Denver as the first clean, non-toxic nail salon in the city and was also one of just a few in the United States to be truly clean and non-toxic.
CD: Your “promise statement” on your site is so strong. Can you speak to it a bit.
TW: Since Base Coats conception has always been creating a non-toxic, clean environment. We believe holding ourselves to very high standards in terms of choosing ingredients and formulations that are not harmful to the health and wellness of our clients and staff. Most importantly, we want to always be completely transparent with our products and services, which surprisingly is not required by law in the United States. Even when we get comments about why our prices are so high than other nail salons. Yes, we can buy cheaper bulk products and nail polish at a nail supply store but those products are filled with so many human damaging chemicals, we can put them in pretty jars, say they are “safe” or “natural”, lower the prices and call it a day. Sadly many high end/boutique nail salons do this. It’s our duty to educate and give our staff and clients correct, thoughtful information as much as possible. Yes, this is a more expensive way to run a business, but in our mind it's the right way.
CD: There is so much confusion in the market around “clean” and “non-toxic”. Can you explain what it means for Base Coat services + products?
TW: Clean and non-toxic is the same thing for marketing purposes to convey the message. Both mean removing the most harmful chemicals from you products, less toxic. Since Day one this has always been our mission to be a clean and the least non-toxic nail salon option out there. A huge reason why we formulated our own spa products we use in all our salons so we know exactly what are in them and what is going on your body.
This is also the reason why it took us over a year and a half to find the right nail polish company to produce our line of 8-Free polish that could actually provide us with lab results and proof of no animal testing. If you can believe it or not a lot of companies could not provide and do not have to. As you all know p olicing of personal care products is not a priority in the United States. The U.S. has not passed a federal law regulating the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. Currently, Europe has over 1,300 restricted ingredients, while the U.S. has only 11. Pretty scary. However, we never want to mislead our clients into believing our polishes have no chemicals. The reality is, in order for polish to stick to your nail and adequately dry, it will have ingredients that allow it to do so. We'll continue to provide the cleanest polish possible without compromising beauty and function.
CD: You now have 4 locations- 2 in Denver + 2 in LA. What has been your biggest challenge thus far with expansion?
TW: I think this is a struggle and challenge for many small business but for us especially it has always been finding the right team that understands the ethos of our company.
CD: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
TW: Owning your own business is very hard, stressful, it’s constant day and night, it’s not always unicorns and rainbows but don’t let that fear of failing stop you from pursuing your dream of owning a business you believe in and that you know in your heart is worth doing. Failure is inevitable when you own your own business, we’ve learned to accept and embrace it. Every single time you fail, get back up, keep moving, learning, and evolving from that failure that in return will always open another door to another amazing opportunity or idea. ALWAYS trust your gut about what is best for your business and only hire people who are experts in their fields to help you grow your business – you can’t do it all! Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and inspire you daily. Good businesses always have an amazing team alongside them. I’m also very lucky to have an amazing business partner like Ali. We balance each other out. She’s way better at things I am not and vice versa. Most important an amazing husband who I literally can not do any of this without him! Also, don’t ever hire friends, family and close acquaintances. I’m learning this lesson the hard way because I always want to give people an opportunity but sometimes that is not the best decision for your business and it always bites you in the ass.
CD: You are a mama of 4. Do you experience mom guilt and if so how do you handle? Any tips for working mamas?
TW: #momguilt #thestruggleisreal For me I think as mom let go of “I can do it all” mentality because at the end of the day you can’t and shouldn’t. This is not healthy for you, your family and your business. Life is hard enough. We all have to make hard decisions that will not always be the best, we make mistakes, not everything goes as planned, but I think that is the best part we are always constantly learning from failures which makes us be better parents, partners and humans. At the end of the day we are all trying our best and that is all that really matters. I also do not believe in work/life balance. I think that is total BS. Stop and listen to what is going on around you. Some days my business will need more of my time and some days my family will. You have to literally stop in your tracks and say “Hey today I really need to focus on my family and tomorrow we will handle this fire at Base Coat” people will understand. Also, I know it’s harder said than done.. learn to ask for help from your partners, be very disciplined with your time, I don’t waste a minute of my workday and delegate which is still very hard for me and I know for many working moms. I’ve been doing this little by little and has reduced my anxiety and stress level dramatically.
CD: How do you take care of yourself?
TW: Self-care has really been an integral part of the success of not only our business but also our personal lives. It’s really hard to take care of yourself as a business owner and mother because deep in your bones to want to take care and nurture everyone else first. It was really hard for me to find time to carve time for myself and it’s not every day but try to do it at least once a week where I take at least an hour to do something for myself that makes me feel good and to help recharge my soul. That can be meditating, start or finish a new book, take a bath, put on a face mask and watch a movie. Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup.
CD: What's your favorite book?
TW: Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. This book has changed me and opened my eyes on so many levels.
CD: Who would you most like to have dinner with?
TW: Nina Simone, Beyonce, Frida Kahlo and Gloria Steinem. Holy cow what amazing conversations would be had.
CD: What's your favorite vacation spot?
TW: Oh boy I haven’t been on a real vacation in years but right now my favorite thing to do is go on motorcycle trips with my husband to Sante Fe, New Mexico and visit our favorite hot spring Ojo Caliente to relax. Riding on the back of a motorcycle forces me to relax. Not constantly looking at my phone for a few hours at a time, enjoying time with my husband and soaking in the scenery, the sun and fresh air.
CD: What are your favorite Base Coat colors this holiday?
TW: I’m loving Westen Daughters on my finger nails and Rust and Varnish on my toes. The right amount of pop for the Holidays!