Last time I had good long ramble about the things I think you should know before you get into the woinderful, sparkly world of indie nail polish. Today I want to go through what to do when good polish turns out to be, in fact, bad.
So, You're Not Happy
I apologise if this is a heartbreaking realisation, but there will almost certainly come a time when you buy something and you're not happy with it. Sometimes this disappointment comes when you open a package and pull something out that is completely different to what you'd been eagerly anticipating. Sometimes it comes when eager anticipation for a delivery turns into annoyance, and then rage, as the delivery process drags on and on and on. Sometimes there is a polish you really, REALLY have your heart set on, and you just can't get your hands on it. I absolutely believe that if you've been genuinely fucked around, you have every right to kick up a stink. But I do believe there some things to take into consideration before you do that, especially when dealing with indie brands.
Reputation is Everything
Remember that "chatter" I mentioned in the last post, that I recommend you use as a way of researching indies? That's the extent of the marketing available to many indie makers. They simply don't have the budget, resources, or time to create traditional marketing campaigns, so they rely very, very heavily on word of mouth. The words you put out there, the chatter you contribute, matters in a big way to the success or failure of an indie venture.
Personally, I believe this means you should consider what you say about indie brands more carefully than say, OPI. It's pretty fucking doubtful that you're going to impact OPI's sales by saying that you either loved or hated the Great and Powerful Oz collection. But if an indie maker has put out a new collection, every public statement good or bad matters in the long run. You might be one of only twenty people that make any public comment at all, if it's a particularly small indie brand. Just think about how much weight that gives each opinion - every single person looking to research that brand is going to come across one of twenty mentions, one of which might well be yours. So try and keep that in mind before you comment.
I'm Freakin' Out Maaaaan!
Once you get caught up in the world of indie polish, it can be very easy to get carried away. The sense of community, the way you can often get to know the creators on quite a personal level, the intimacy of buying hand made things directly from the maker are all very intoxicating. And that's before you even get to the utter mania that can come over people when it comes to dealing with limited edition or hard to find polishes. The absolute feeding frenzy that erupts when sites such as Llarowe or Harlow and Co do a restock of very sought after polishes really has to be seen to be believed. And when people get worked up, if things don't go their way, people can sometimes freak out.
|Some of the calmer comments on the Pretty Serious Cosmetics Facebook page over a recent limited release.|
Thing is, it probably won't be. It is, after all, only fucking polish. It can only be SO awesome, even when you love polish as much as I do. When your expectations are pushed up by limited availability and communal excitement, it's pretty inevitable that there will occasionally be some disappointment when the polish arrives and it's not the incredible artefact you were wishing for. Maybe it doesn't suit your skin tone. Maybe you can't get it to sit right. Maybe it's just not as incredibly beautiful as you had hoped, and just a little bit ordinary. None of these things can reasonably be blamed on the creator. But if you spend any time around the Facebook pages of sites like Llarowe, you can see that all too often disgruntled customers are all too happy to make it the creator's problem. And THAT is fucking bullshit.
This Just Sucks
|Image courtesy of EatWatch Run|
Because indie polish is largely made by hand, there is a lot of testing required before you can send a reliable product out into the world. Funnily enough, mixing volatile chemicals together in a little glass bottle can create some pretty catastrophic results if you don't know what you're doing. If the pigments you're using to colour your polish aren't solvent resistant, your polish will fade faster than black denim in a Queensland summer. If you use pigments that are too strong, your polish will leave a horrid stain behind when it's removed, that often just has to grow out. If you use glitter that isn't solvent resistant, it can curl up into horrid little taco shapes, that refuse to sit flat on the nail unless you're extremely talented and/or patient. The wrong kind of glitter can also "bleed" colour into the base liquid, which will stain the rest of the polish and leave you with a funky coloured base and plain silver glitters with a gritty surface. If the polish isn't packed properly before it's sent, it can end up on your doorstep a very smell bag of smashed up glass and chemicals. If you come across any of these problems, you should absolutely call the seller out.
There is, however, a time and place for doing this "calling out". I'm pretty against a public tantrum as the first response to a shonky product, when we're talking about an indie company. The indie creators I've dealt with have been very open to feedback, and very eager to address any concerns - if you remember what I said earlier, reputation is everything to a lot of these creators. If you email them and simply express your concerns, they will often be happy to replace it, or give you a credit, or refund you. This, I think, is a lot more constructive in terms of creating a happy polish world than running to Facebook and telling everyone how much this polish sucks. Firstly, the creator might not even know there is a problem unless someone tells them directly, and therefore it will never get fixed. Secondly, talking about people behind their back is just tacky. And never forget, indie creators ARE people - they are often quite invested in the products they create, and seeing nasty comments flying around without having a chance to defend themselves or address the situation can be really deeply upsetting.
|Making polish is a family activity in the Loki's Lacquer household|
Indie polish is sold a lot of the time by one or two person operations, and this sometimes means delivery times will vary wildly. If the sole person running a brand gets sick, or their kids get sick, or they have a big event they have to deal with in their life, they might not be able to get back to orders in a timely manner. Very, VERY few indie polish makers have polish as their sole source of income - it's not the gold mine some people seem to think it is. If you're ever tempted to have a whinge about how these indie polish creators are "making a mint", try and keep in mind that most of the indie creators I consulted only make one, maybe two dollars per bottle profit. The raw ingredients for polish making are EXPENSIVE, and the market isn't particuarly flexible. Because of this, almost every creator I know has another job of some kind, be it inside or outside the home. This means that sometimes the non-polish part of their lives will get in the way of them getting your polish to you. The more professional indie creators will let you know if something major like this comes up - Femme Fatale, for example, updates their expected turn around time very frequently, and if they will be out of the office for even a day or two, they always let their customers know in advance. Some newer or more casual brands don't have as serious a commitment to communication with their customers, so if your order doesn't arrive in the timeframe you expected, you should feel free to drop them an email.
|Look at all these ways that Sayuri Nail Lacquer lists to contact them, right on their site! You should use them|
9 times out of 10, the creator will respond to a polite email, often quite apologetically, and give you an update. Every now and then, if there's been a major delay, they might throw in a couple of samples to make it up to you - which is lovely, and very appreciated, but you should never expect this as a matter of course. Remember, anything above and beyond delivering the product they sold you is that creator doing you a favour, so be sure to treat it as such.
|Keep calm and think about polish.|
Unfortunately, some people are just assholes. The world is full of them, and the polish world has some scattered around too. Sometimes, if you contact a seller with a concern or complaint they'll tell you to get stuffed. Sometimes they'll insist the bleeding glitter is a feature, not a flaw. Sometimes they won't respond at all. In these cases, fuck politeness. Tell your friends. Tell Facebook. Say what you want to who you want, and maybe these sellers will get driven out so they can't give other creators a bad name. Then we can all get back to swooning over the awesome creators who make awesome stuff and treat their customers awesomely.