Hi, I’m Barbra Salet,
Founder and product designer here at ILNP. I’m so glad you’re reading this! Please, follow me - I’d like to share with you our story.
It all started in 2012 with my high school sweetheart here in Las Vegas. We both had very different plans for life. Jason was focused on programming and marketing and I was bookkeeping at the time.Then one day, an opportunity fell into our laps. We had no idea at the time but walking through this door would end up changing our lives forever. Here’s how it all went down.
A girl and a hobby
I’ve always had a passion for color. To me, using color was a natural way to express myself – whether it be through fashion, design, makeup, or anything really.
For as long as I can remember, nails were an important part of my routine. These tiny canvases allowed me to share my mood and add the perfect finishing touch to my outfit. The right manicure was just as important as the right purse or the right shoes.
Many times, finding the perfect nail polish was a challenge.
I tried to take things into my own hands, mixing old nail polishes together occasionally to see what I could come up with. I even found myself buying new polishes just for mixing, trying to get that “in-between” color that I couldn’t find anywhere. Sometimes I’d get it right too!
One day, I discovered a blossoming “indie nail polish” scene.
OMG. I was amazed at the unique polishes, glitters, and inspired by the many talented bloggers that would share photos of their beautiful manicures and nail art. This was where I had to be.
Somehow, I came across a small glitter nail polish kit that had all of the tools to create your own nail polishes from scratch. Of course, I had to have it. After ordering, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive and was already thinking of the endless possibilities.
Once delivered, I was hooked. I would lose track of time, spending hours obsessing over pairings of color, sizes, and shapes. Revising my little blends until they felt just right – until they felt “balanced.”
I was finally able to create those nail polish looks that I used to wish I had!
I’d share my little creations with friends and family. They were always impressed and asking for more.
I was lost in the sauce. Every day I was trying new things, scouring the internet for more glitters, and perfecting my craft.
One day, I was in my office doing nail things as usual. Jason came in to chat and picked up a bottle. This time it was different, he had a surprised look on his face and was amazed at what I made. “You really made this?” he said. “Yeah.” I replied.
At that moment, staring at the bottle, he asked the question that started it all:
“Think we could sell one of these?”
Wait, is this for real?
Jason convinced me to give it a shot and make some new polishes that we could try to sell online.
I didn’t know how to sell anything but I did know that if someone was willing to buy something that I made, I wanted them to be happy with the entire experience. I genuinely wanted them to love what they trusted me to make.
Nervous but excited, I went to work, designing a few glitter toppers that I felt were just right. I also learned how to take product and swatch photos. The nail polishes also needed names, they had to look cute and have a small personal touch.
A couple of days after opening my Etsy shop, after my family and friends bought polishes in support, I got my first REAL sale. It was for a glitter topper called “Little Mermaid.”
The second I saw the order email, I rushed in to let Jason know and started getting my materials together. At this time we didn’t have inventory ready to go, we weren’t even thinking like that. I just had “stuff to make nail polish.”
I carefully mixed up a bottle of Little Mermaid and tied a handwritten label around the cap. I even wiped the outside of the bottle with windex so it would be perfect when the customer got it. I was so excited.
Orders continued to trickle in. Sometimes a few a day, sometimes none.
Jason stepped in to help with marketing, I continued to design new polishes, and customers kept coming back for more.
Then, “Goldie Boo Boo”, one of my halloween polishes, was featured on the front page of Etsy and orders came pouring in. We were shocked, thrilled, scared, and in a strange way, validated.
It finally hit us - we had something special. It was around this time when I finally allowed myself to start believing that people genuinely liked what I was doing.
We got to enjoy what it all meant for a few minutes before snapping back to reality.
Things aren’t slowing down.
Demand is growing and growing.
Late nights, early mornings, long weekends, and blistered hands. A lot of coffee and a little bit of sleep.
Our little operation began to outgrow my room and consume the rest of the house – the garage, the dining room, the living room, spare bedrooms. There are nail polish spills on the carpet and splatter on the walls.
We're running out of space, losing our minds, and also learning the hard way that craigslist might not be the best place to search for help.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have but we can't keep going like this, we have to make a move. A real one. What are we going to do?
Now or never-jump!
We can’t keep doing it all ourselves and we can’t keep doing it here. What if we got a small warehouse? What do those even cost?
Oh, that’s a lot. Oh, we need to sign a 5 year lease and personally guarantee it as well? You’ll need collateral for that guarantee? Our home? What happens if it doesn’t work out?
At this point, banks aren’t really interested in helping out. It’s up to us. What other choice do we have? Either we do this and spread our wings, or we don’t and risk stalling out and losing all of the momentum we’ve gathered so far.
We really believe in what we’re doing. We can’t quite explain it, but we can feel it in our hearts. It’s so real we can almost touch it.
Even on our worst days, when we thought about throwing in the towel because we just couldn’t handle it anymore, this belief was the guiding light that kept us going.
We’re human though, we get scared and second guess ourselves, our skills, and our talents. This is a huge commitment and we have no idea if this is the right time or right way to do something like this.
Despite all of the fear and unknowns, our customers and supporters reminded us everyday that we were doing something right. Thinking back, the best decision we ever made was choosing to trust them.
“Let’s do it.”
The paperwork is signed and we get the keys to our brand new place. It has 2 small offices, a little reception area, and a big empty warehouse. We begin setting up shop, reclaiming our home, and figuring out what’s next. We're all in and there's no turning back now.
“The transformation begins…”
Our first hire
Jason and I knew we couldn’t continue doing things the same way for much longer. We had to find some help.
We couldn’t afford to hire seasoned professionals with impressive resumes. Who do we hire? How do we know when we’ve found the right person?
Well, we got this far doing things we were passionate about, things we would be doing anyway. We need to find someone like us.
For a while, we'd been working closely with a nail blogger, a young lady named Christa. Christa contacted us early on to swatch and review our products for her blog. She was only 16 at the time but she was so good at what she did that we were always willing (hoping) to work with her.
Eventually, Christa began helping us out with social media and other miscellaneous things and continued to assist us here and there for about a year. The thing is, Christa was all the way in Florida and we’re here in Vegas.
One day, I jokingly suggested that we were going to move her to Las Vegas to join us because she’s been such a great help. Christa jokingly replied “I wish!”
Jason and I gave each other “the look” and I had to ask Christa, “no, seriously… for real?” She was for real.
A short time later, Christa flew to Las Vegas to finally meet with us in person and tour our barebones warehouse. We figured out how we could help with the move, what kind of small salary we could afford to pay her, and made her an official offer.
She accepted, and at 18 years old, Christa left Florida and moved to Las Vegas to become our first real hire. Her impact was immediately felt and we finally began feeling like we weren't on the verge of drowning anymore.
Christa was crazy for what she did. She took a huge chance on moving across the country to join a small 2-person company with a dream. For that, we’ll be forever grateful.
“It’s on now!”
Today we’re in a bigger facility with a lot more going on.
Our core principles haven't changed. We still design, formulate, manufacture, bottle, and ship every product from right here in Las Vegas so that our customers always get the best of everything we can offer.
I’m dedicated to product design. Christa is now our VP - orchestrating our daily operations, and Jason, our CEO, helps us navigate through the insanity of tomorrow so that we can focus on being creative.
The ILNP family continues to grow with talented and passionate minds that genuinely love what they do. Best of all - our customers and supporters continue to make it all worth it.
Looking back, we’re tremendously thankful for all of the great personalities, artists, swatchers, brands, and polish makers out there that take the time to inspire and show the world that nails are way more than just an afterthought.
We owe the world to our customers and supporters and are blessed to be able to bring a little sparkle into their lives. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to be here doing what I love.
Time seems to be moving faster and faster. It's been over 10 years now since I made my first nail polish. So many memories, so many mistakes, so many laughs, and so many tears.
… and there's still so much to do.
We hope you’ll join us on our journey and allow us to play a small part in yours!