Thursday, March 28, 2019

Nail Polish Society's March Spotlight: Girly Bits Cosmetics

Hello lovely Society Sisters! Have I got a treat for you! March is almost over but trust me it was worth the wait for this month's installment from the Spotlight Series. For March I have interviewed the amazing Pam of Girly Bits! Pam makes some seriously beautiful nail polish and in addition is very involved and accessable in the polish community  If you don't know much about the brand or the talented creator behind it, buckle up because you're about to be educated. Grab a snack and let's read on..

(Could this photo be any more adorable?)

Tell us a little about yourself-

I was born and raised in a small town in Kingsville Ontario, Canada where I currently
reside with my husband. We have three daughters, and we have recently become empty
nesters. Two of our daughters (the oldest and the youngest) live in the same town as us,
and both have very recently given birth to their first babies.
Our youngest daughter is a trained chef and aspires to be a restaurant owner.
Our middle daughter is living her best life in the mountains of Alberta Canada, is
becoming a world traveller, and we are all very jealous.
Our oldest daughter is a very talented singer/songwriter. You can check out her Youtube
channel here
I have always been a bit of a beauty junkie with sizeable collections of nail polish,
makeup, and jewelry. I also love to cook, travel, and go to concerts. Music has always
been a huge part of my life and now that we are able, we attend as many concerts as we
can reasonably squeeze in to our very busy lives. I have a love of theatre and used to
perform a lot on the local stage but sadly I have no time for that these days. Perhaps
when I retire.

Girly Bits North of 42

Tell us about your brand. What do you feel sets you apart or defines you?

Girly Bits has been around since the literal beginning of what is now known as indie
polish. When I first started selling polish the market was very different than it is now.
Most people didn’t know what handmade nail polish was, so those of us who were
building our brands back then (there were about 6 of us worldwide) had both the luxury
and the challenges of tapping into a new market and finding solutions to the many many
bumps in the road, from sourcing quality ingredients, packaging and labeling, to
managing a website and fulfilling orders, and dealing with shipping mishaps. There was
a whole community of very eager customers who were not any more used to the delicate
balance of supply and demand than we were and dealing with the explosion of the indie
polish market had a HUGE learning curve. Customer service and a positive attitude was
always a number one priority for me, and if you have ever worked in sales or with the
public you know that it is not for everyone. I knew from the beginning that I needed to
separate my personal feelings and my business mind and surprisingly I was able to do
that. I saw a lot of girls really struggle in that department and I think that my approach
played a large part in the success and stability of my brand. Girly Bits has become
known for consistently producing quality products and having excellent customer
service. We have managed to grow and keep up with the current trends while still
producing our signature finishes. We have a loyal customer base, many of whom have
been with us from the very beginning. I guess Girly Bits doesn’t have a starkly defining
characteristic, but we do sort of touch all the bases. I think adaptability would be one of
our strengths. =)

Girly Bits Pegassused

When did your love for polish begin?

Ohhh boy. A long long time ago. Like eons ago. I am old as dirt and I don’t recall a time
that I didn’t love nail polish.

Girly Bits Sequins and Satin Pants

How did you choose the name Girly Bits?

Back in about 2008 I was really doing a lot of nail art and because I was active on the
nail board on Makeup Alley, I started taking pictures of my manicures and sharing them
there. So I decided to start a blog to house all the photos. I was struggling to come up
with a name for it. I knew that my blog posts would feature various things like nails,
makeup, hair styles, beauty tutorials, etc. I was in the car with one of my kids and I was
asking her opinion on a blog name. I thought to myself, well it’s bits and pieces of girly
things, so how about Pam’s Girly Bits? I jokingly said that to her, and she was kind of
mortified to be honest. But, it made me laugh and I am very sarcastic and a bit cheeky,
so it stuck. Since I began showcasing my nail polish creations on my blog and had
accumulated a sizeable following on the blog, I decided to stick with the branding I had
created and carry the name over to my business. I knew I wanted to leave room to
expand my brand to include other things like makeup or bath & body products, which is
why I didn’t include the words polish or lacquer in the brand name, but rather kept it all
encompassing with Girly Bits Cosmetics.

Girly Bits I've Got My Ion You

Do you miss blogging? What did you enjoy about it?

Blogging was so different back then. I did it mostly as a fun way to catalogue and share
my love of nail polish and to connect with the community. I never received any PR
packages or anything, but I really enjoyed doing tutorials on nail art and just sharing the
pics. Once my business took off I had less time for actual blogging so eventually it
stopped. I missed it at first but it was replaced with a new love. Since then blogging has
become so serious and incredibly time consuming. We, as indie polish makers, rely
heavily on bloggers for reviews, photos and as a liaison to our customers. Bloggers are
a very very important and often under appreciated part of this community and I am
forever grateful for all of them.

Girly Bits The FoMo is Real

How did you make the leap into creating your own brand?

Girly Bits began as a hobby that fed my need to create and my love of colour. Honestly it
truly began when I was active on the Makeup Alley forum, and really got into the idea of
layering nail polishes which led to mixing nail polishes together to create new colours
and finishes, (then known as frankening) and dusty hunting (finding discontinued or hard
to find nail polishes). That led me to look for places to purchase glitter and shimmer to
put directly into nail polish. Once I tapped into the sources for raw ingredients, I was all
in. I began showing my creations on my blog and found that there was a lot of interest
from readers, in purchasing what I had made. With a growing investment in the
ingredients it started to make sense to start a little side hustle to share what I was
creating and justify my investment and reduce the amount of space all my supplies and
creations were occupying in my home. My first few launches were actually blog sales. I
did not have a website at the time. It did so well that I had to move to a website just to be
able to keep up, and to streamline the process. From there it just grew organically, and it
became my full time job in 2013.

Girly Bits Up to Gnome Good

What do you think is more challenging- starting your brand when indies were up and coming, or
now in a more saturated market?

That is a very good question. Being part of the OG indie revolution had very different
challenges and hurdles than being a new brand today, and I honestly don’t think one is
any easier than the other. I think if I had to choose, I would stick with being one of the
first because it definitely gave me a solid footing. Being an indie brand owner is not for
the weak, I can tell you that for sure. I work harder now than I ever have in my life.

Girly Bits Stormy Skies

You are also a Canadian stockist. Tell us a little about how that started and how you choose
what brands to carry-

Being a Canadian brand or a Canadian consumer has always been a challenge in the e-
commerce market. We have a weaker dollar, higher taxes, shipping costs are
outrageous, (both for importing and exporting) and Canada is just a smaller market in
general. So for businesses our operating costs are higher than the US brands which is
reflected in the retail prices of things, and for consumers buying products from US
brands it is more expensive and things take twice a long to get here. Since I had gained
a solid and loyal customer base at Girly Bits, I began to think about how I could better
service them. Being a polish addict myself, I found that buying from multiple brands and
paying individual shipping fees was getting really expensive. And of course, there are
US brands who we couldn’t get at all since they don’t ship internationally. So it just made
sense to offer a one stop shop where you could shop multiple brands and pay one
shipping cost. Since I offer free shipping on orders over $80 CAD, having a wider
selection of products to choose from would make it easier for customers to reach the
free shipping threshold. I started with stamping plates since that was something that I
didn’t make myself. I had met Brittany from UberChic while we were in Vegas for
Cosmoprof, and was really impressed with her products and her entrepreneurial spirit
and decided to add her products to my shop. From there I added a few brands here and
there, and somehow I have ended up a full blown stockist. I should mention that since I
also stock with Harlow & Co, and value that relationship, Katie and I decided that we
would not carry the same brands as each other so that we don’t create an overlap, and
are able to offer a wider range of brands to the Canadian customer base.
When choosing brands to stock at Girly Bits, I select brands that I have personally used
and love, and brands that I know my customers would like to have access to. And
sometimes, I bring in a smaller brand that I love and think deserves to be seen.

Girly Bits Denim and Diamonds and Love Yourself First

What is Indie Expo Canada all about? When is the next event?

Indie Expo Canada is my extra side hustle. IEC is a two-day event in Toronto that
brings indie brands, bloggers, and consumers together. On day one we have workshops
for creating your own nail polish, learning about product photography, and talks by social
media experts for both bloggers and brands. Day two is a vending event where indie
brands (polish, bath & body, makeup, etc) display and sell their products. We have an
exclusive press preview where invited bloggers and media can connect with the brands
before doors open to the public, and we also have several interactive tutorials on various
nail art techniques, hosted by some of the most amazing nail artists and nail technicians
where attendees can learn how to create the hottest nail art trends, and try it out
themselves. We have live entertainment, and a silent auction with proceeds going to
Mount Sinai Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, and we also have a speaker’s panel
featuring several of the brand owners and bloggers, and we stream that live on
Facebook. It has been incredibly successful, and to the best of my knowledge it is the
only event of its kind in Canada.
The first two years were in June, and this year it will be in August. Details TBA. Once we
are home from Polish Con, the IEC website will be updated with this year’s details.

What inspires you?

I find that I create very organically, and many of my creations are inspired by events in
my real life. For example, the Concert Series is inspired by concerts that I have
attended, so it is a progressive collection with new additions as I see more concerts, and
the Oh Baby Baby Trio was inspired by the birth of my first two grandchildren. (which by
the way is crazy, since I am only 30 yrs old. *ahem*)
I definitely see things out in real life that makes me think, Ohhh that would make a pretty
polish. But I find when I actually sit down to create, most times the ingredients inspire me

Girly Bits Sequins and Satin Pants Collection

You have an ongoing series inspired by music (specifically live concerts?). What band/musician
living or dead would you like to see most perform live?

My husband and I are both huge lovers of music, and while I have a more diverse taste
than he does, we do share a lot of the same tastes and we both love and appreciate live
music. We started our family quite young, so we did not have the means (or the time!) to
attend many concerts years ago. We are making up for that now though. We have
managed to see many of the OG musicians that we missed seeing in our younger days,
and thought many of them might have been done touring by now. We have ticked most
of those bands off our lists, but there are a ton of new bands that we really enjoy as well
so I am sure we will never really finish our ever-growing list. Some of the musicians that I
am super bummed that I never had the chance to see are Chris Cornell, Prince, and
Michael Jackson. Some that I really hope to see yet are Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars,
Heart, Metallica, Disturbed, John Mayer, The Black Keys, Bob Segar, Volbeat, Lynyrd
Skynyrd, Ed Sheeran, Slash, and Paul McCartney.
So far this year we have tickets to see Pink, ELO, and Rival Sons with the Sheepdogs.

(Totally feel you about Chris Cornell :( He was #2 on my list of artist I wanted to see live *sniff*)

Girly Bits Sparrow of the Dawn

Do you have a dedicated space for your polish making? Can you tell us about it?

I have a dedicated workshop in my home. It was the loft space above the garage, so we
insulated and drywalled it, added heating and cooling, a separate entrance, an air
exchanger, a sink, and oodles of counterspace and built-in cabinets. That was in about
2013. That space is about 15 x 30, and it is more than full to the brim. In addition to that
space, my stock also occupies two unused bedrooms, and part of the garage, and a
storage shed. 

We have recently moved many of the supplies to a warehouse space for
storage and will soon be moving the rest of the business there so we can stop tripping
over things. I really like the 20 foot walk to work in the morning, but we are reeeeaaallly
running out of space here so a warehouse space was the logical next step. Especially if I
want to continue to expand the stockist portion of Girly Bits.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favourite part is a tossup between actually creating polish, and the interaction with
customers and other polish lovers. The job wouldn’t be the same with out it.

Girly Bits Sprout and About

What’s your least favorite part?

UGH paperwork. Hands down.

Girly Bits Depeche a la Mode

Can you pick a favorite shade of yours? Or collection?

This is the ultimate impossible question. My favourite polish changes a lot and often
depends on what I have created recently. The Hocus Pocus collection always speaks to
me because it is in one of my favourite colour palettes. And I love the Fall 2018
collection of cremes.

Girly Bits Unicornucopia

Was there a specific polish or collection that “put you on the map” so to speak?

Hmm. I don’t think so? I guess realistically it was my first collection which is the Sea’s
the Day collection. My first sought after limited edition was What Happens in Vegas,
Ends up on Facebook.

Girly Bits Warrior Goddess cremes and How to Find a Naked Man (In Vegas)

What was your most popular shade of 2018?

In 2018 my most popular exclusive polish was Antici…pation! from Polish Pickup, and
my most popular regular release was Sparrow of the Dawn from the Concert Series.

Girly Bits Antici... pation!

Is your polish preference any different for your toes than your fingers? Since makers and
bloggers don't keep manicures the same for long, how often do you have a fresh pedi? Or do
you even have time for that?

I never wear the same polish on my toes and fingers. It’s all about options =) For my
pedi I usually choose something somewhat seasonal. I treat myself to a pedi at a salon
every 6 weeks (I usually bring one of my most recent releases, or a prototype for her to
use) and I don’t usually have time to change the polish in between. For my mani I will
wear anything and everything. Most times I have a combination of prototypes and
upcoming releases on my fingers and very rarely are all 10 fingers polished at the same
time and almost never all the same colour. If we have somewhere to go, I try to do all 10
nails but I suck at time management, so I paint them just as we walk out the door. In that
case I use what ever I can polish quickly and neatly with. We have a cottage on Pelee
Island, and when we spend time there I bring an arsenal of polish and stamping supplies
with me and spend an entire day playing around. I usually end up changing my polish
daily during that time.

Girly Bits Hot Stuff

Is there someone who inspires you in business or life in general? Any mentors?

My husband is my biggest inspiration in life. For real. He is everything, and then some.

Girly Bits High Functioning Sociopath

What can we expect from you in the future? Are there any goals you’re aiming toward?

With the new babies around one of my biggest personal goals is to be more efficient with
my time so I can snuggle with them as often as possible. On the Girly Bits front I plan on
expanding the stockist portion of the business, offering more regular Girly Bits polish
collections and expanding the non polish offerings, and continuing to grow Indie Expo
Canada. I would also like to be able to hire another part time employee.
Girly Bits My Peony Has A First Name and The Shaft

Extra tid bits and thoughts:

*One of my favorite things about Girly Bits is the playful punny names given to most of the polishes. Pam likes to involve her fans in naming contests over in the fan group and I've ended up naming a number of her polishes!

*When I got into blogging, Girly Bits was almost immediately on my radar. Their popular Shift Happens and Street Magic had been on my wish list for years and I just recently got my hands on them! Finally!

*It's kind of a dream of mine to take polish making classes from Pam. Wouldn't that be the most amazing thing?

Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this Pam! I hope you all had as much fun getting to know her better as I did!
Thank you for reading. For more Girly Bits goodness and to keep up-to-date with what's new, check out the links below.

Girly Bits

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