Your Beauty Obsession Could Become Your Job

A true tale of turning a passion for nail polish into a dream job, straight from Tanisha Lawrence, the founder of LAW Beauty Essentials.

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When I was about 6 years old, my mother began taking me with her to get manicures and pedicures every Saturday. I first came to love nail polish because of this weekly bonding experience. As I grew up, I found I just had a personal connection to colors. Even if it was as simple as wearing black polish when I felt funky or dramatic, or pink when I wanted something ultra-feminine, I realized that nail polish was a highly concentrated form of expressing personal style.

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Before starting LAW, I worked for Chase Bank, Progressive, and United Airlines—that is, about as far from the beauty industry as you can get! But I had a lot of face-to-face interactions with customers, and there was a lot of networking involved in these positions. I learned about selling points, what it means to build rapport and maintain important relationships, how to manage accounts.

When my customers tell me what they're looking for, I listen and try to make it happen.

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I found I had this passion for working with customers and giving them something that enhances their lives. And since I love connecting with people through nail polish, I applied my skills from these previous business experiences toward building my own beauty brand.

There's nothing a little shimmer can't fix.

Devising nail polish shades is challenging, but when my customers tell me what they're looking for, I listen and try to make it happen. I do pay attention to trends—there are times when metallics are big, other times everyone wants pastels, then I'll have customers telling me they want more nude shades, then they'll ask, "Hey, are you coming out with a red anytime soon?" I determine the colors by what's in season and also by what customers feel is missing.

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Polish in 2 PM Wine, $9, law-beauty-essentials.com.

When it comes time to name each hue, I look at the nail polish and see what mood it puts me in. For example, one of my most popular shades is "2 PM Wine." It's red, and I think if you feel like having a glass of wine at 2 p.m., that's OK!

It just seemed right to make my formula 5-free. The nail industry is always evolving, and even big companies use fewer and fewer toxins. I felt like a great start for the product to be vegan-friendly and toxin-free, because I just foresee this being the future of nail polish.

It's hard to please a million people, but if you have something that you believe in and you stick to that, people will come to you.

When I first founded LAW, this wasn't such a big deal, but even just three years later, it's more common to see vegan nail polishes. I want to stay in tune with the way the industry is changing, and be up-to-date rather than outdated.

I feel like the most important thing when you have your own brand is never losing sight of why you started it in the first place. It's really hard to please a million people, but if you have something that you believe in and you stick to that, people will come to you; you'll always have an audience. That's what's kept me going. I knew what I wanted to put out there, and I knew that if I just stayed genuine to the product and to my brand that I would always have return customers.

And Now: Lawrence's Simple Guide to the Perfect Manicure

That's their name, do wear it out.

I like a fatter brush because I can coat my nail bed in two strokes. Also, try not to push down too hard on the brush. You want to do one light brushstroke, and then another light brushstroke. Don't worry making the first coat perfect, because that's really just about coverage. The second coat is when you can start tidying things up. After the second coat, wait a minute or two for the topcoat application—you'll be surprised how it kind of smooths out the texture.

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