Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Beginners Guide to Indie Polish Part 2

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.
Because getting your hands on some indie polishes can be such an ordeal of late night frenzied clicking, some people seem to put huge expectations on the products they manage to get. Which is understandable, to a certain extent. If I stay up for three hours in the middle of the night endlessly refreshing Llarowe's page to get myself a Nerd Lacquer, I'm going to expect to be absolutely fucking mind blowing to make it worth the effort I expended.

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.
If you get a polish, and it's not faulty, but just not all you had dreamed it would be, try and remember that all the creator promised you was polish - not a magical fairy potion of amazingness. Just. Polish. And if that's what you got, no one has been betrayed, no one has been lied to, you just had some bad luck. So deal with it, and for goodness sake, don't go whipping up online drama over it.

This Just Sucks

Image courtesy of EatWatch Run
If you've been fucked around, you have every right as a consumer to say something. I've been extremely lucky so far and haven't actually had any super bad experiences buying indie polish or cosmetics so far, but there are lots of things that can go wrong.

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
Where's My Fucking Polish?

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.
When It All Goes Wrong

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.


  1. This is an incredibly awesome post filled with truth :) I think the other thing to note is that drama perpetuates drama. If you see a vitriol- filled post besmirching the reputation of your favourite indie seller, it is extremely tempting to jump right in and defend their honour. However, this will inevitably escalate and fuel yet more drama, which is not a good thing and may be even more upsetting to the indie seller. Trolls will be trolls.

  2. Awesome post!
    It'd be nice if everyone in the polish world read this. Great for those who have never heard of indie nail polish.

  3. I love your writing style and this series of posts have been great, both on an education and entertainment level. Thank you!

  4. Awesome awesome awesome. Thanks so much for this!

  5. Wicked article ! I am so glad I discovered your blog !

  6. I need to show this article to my sister. I've been giving her a crash course on indie polish, and she's finally starting to understand the indie world :)
    My biggest dilemma that's come from wearing indie polish, is trying to answer the question of: "oh, I love your polish! Where'd you get it?" Don't get me wrong, I love that my mani is attraction attention and possibly helping my favorite indie creators make a sale. But there's no quick answer for that; especially if it's a hard-to-get polish like Enchanted or Takko. Using words like "Etsy", "Llarowe", or "restock" usually just gets me looks of confusion. Lol :)

  7. Great post! I'm researching for starting my own small line when I graduate (and have a job), and this post was both informative and funny!

    Tara xox

  8. I LOVED these 2 blogs!!! As a newer indie maker, myself, I really appreciate that there are people who truly understand what goes on behind the scenes!!! <3


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