Up Close & Personal with Nicole Bivins of It Girl Nail Art

When I told you that I was taking it up a notch in 2017, I meant it! I am expanding my blog to be more well rounded and setting my sights on more than just indie polish. That’s right, I’m thinking big and bringing you all Up Close and Personal with Nicole Bivins of It Girls Nail Art. I recently had an opportunity to review of Nicole’s products and they are amazing! If you haven’t had an opportunity to read my critique, be sure to do so here.


Nicole Bivins
Tacoma, Washington
May 6th

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
It’s oddly specific, but I cannot stand super scratchy clothing tags. I’ve got a seam-ripper tool in my handbag at all times to get rid of annoying tags!

If you could have dinner with any 5 past or present people, who would they be?
David Bowie, RuPaul, Alton Brown, Michelle Obama, Betsey Johnson

If you had to lose one of your 5 senses, which would it be and why?
I debated this one internally for well over an hour. I’d have to (very sadly) go with taste. If I still had my sense of smell, I could still experience a good majority of “taste” and I wouldn’t jeopardize my ability to release scented cuticle oils!

Favorite/ideal vacation spot and who would you take with you?
I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand with my husband.

Would you rather have the ability to fly or the ability to read people’s mind?
Fly, for sure. I’d save so much on travel, and I fear that mind-reading would just make me really sad and angry all the time!

Do you have any hidden talents or traits?
I’m ambidextrous! It’s come in handy (no pun intended) for a few things, including nail polishing/nail art.

Best gift received?
At the time, I was not thrilled about it, but my husband (then boyfriend) gave me Smart Wool socks and long underwear for our first Valentine’s Day together. I thought it was not frivolous enough for Valentine’s, but am still wearing them 8 years later. I reluctantly admit that he was right. He knew I was always cold and wanted to keep me warm. That’s actually pretty romantic.

Best gift given?
I sent one of my dearest friends a box full of goodies that included things that reminded her of her trip to visit me, and it arrived on a day that school and work had her really stressed out. Just knowing that getting this box from me totally turned her day around is the best feeling in the world.

When and why did you decide to start your business? 
Like most indie nail brand owners, I started as a fan. I was living in Montana after my wedding, and without long-distance event planning taking up all of my free time, I needed an indoor hobby for the winter. It was around that time that I started looking at Pinterest, and discovered nail stamping. Like most things, I can’t be a casual fan and became obsessed immediately. But after collecting a huge, heavy binder’s worth of cheap plates, I wasn’t happy with the quality that was available, and was only really interested in maybe a quarter of the designs on each plate–the rest I thought were really uninspired “filler.” By the time I started toying with the idea of making my own plates, I had moved to Tacoma, and regularly visited with a local group of indie polish obsessives like myself. With their encouragement (and my husband’s), I started the long process of research and testing. Finally, after over a year of that, It Girl Nail Art launched with three stamping plates in August of 2015.

What makes your brand different?
Basically all the commercial stamping plates on the market are mass-produced in just a handful of overseas factories by people with no connection to nail polish/stamping in general, or the indie community specifically. I wanted to change that, and offer a product with amazing quality and quality control. Although there’s a higher cost to produce stamping plates in the USA, but I think the quality more than justifies it. When customers choose to buy from It Girl Nail Art, they’re not only supporting my small, american business, but the small, american businesses in my supply chain. That’s a factor that matters to a lot of people in the indie polish community. 

What is one thing you’re willing to share that your customers would be surprised to know about you?
I went to film school. It took me a long time to realize that a career in the film industry wouldn’t make me happy, but my education definitely gave me experience with some of the software I use, and it honed my aesthetic eye. And I might be rolling my film and video experience into some educational stamping demo videos in 2017…

What advice/tips/best practices would you give someone wanting to start their own business? 
Do. The. Work. There are no shortcuts to experience. All businesses start somewhere–many are tempted to ask for the answers to their research and development questions, but you’ll never be sure how “right” those answers are until you experiment for yourself. The results you obtain yourself will be more rewarding, too.

Besides your own, what other brands do you own/wear/use?
I wear a lot of ILNP, KBShimmer, Painted Polish, Ellagee, and Pepper Pot Polish (which is made by a totally fantastic fellow Tacoma lady!)

Describe yourself in 5 words
Obsessed with all things artistic.

What is one of you favorite collections or product you created?
IG111 is a stamping plate inspired by the outdoors right around me. I am lucky to live in the absolutely beautiful Pacific Northwest, and spend a lot of time hiking and camping with my husband and dog. So that plate includes lots of my favorite things; raindrops, fern leaves, wood grain, a topographic map, etc.

What are your top 3 favorite things to do? (Outside of creating and filling orders…lol)
I’m borderline obsessed with drag and musical theatre, so my #1 favorite thing to do is go to shows. I fan-girl like nobody’s business. I’m an avid baker, and make a lot of complex goodies for my friends and my husband’s students. I’m part of a “stitch and bitch” group, and am currently cross stitching a Harry Potter themed sampler for my best friend.

How did you come up with your company name and logo?
The name comes from my background in filmmaking and cinema history–Paramount Studios had a film called “It” a very long time ago, to which they hired the actress Clara Bow. She was one of the most famous fashion icons of her time, and came to be known as the “It Girl.” The term has since been used to describe confident, fashionable role models, and as I feel like nail art is a real extension of fashion and self-expression, it stuck.

Besides your current business/company, what other product you would have liked to create?
In an alternate dimension, I’d be a fashion designer. I’m so obsessed with clothes, but have very little sewing experience. Someday when I have more free time (lol) I may take a sewing class.

Any spoilers that you care to share about future collections, products, etc?
There are a number of molds in my living room that I’m using to cast silicone and plastic to handmake stampers. From the prototype, to the molds, to the formulations, my Chief Spousal Officer/Engineer has helped me bring my dream of a brand new handmade stamper concept to life!

In 10 words or less, what would be your brand slogan?
Independent, exceptional quality nail stamping tools made in the USA!

How long did you test your product(s) before ‘going live’?
It was well over a year for the stamping plates themselves. For the stamping polishes, the first collection (jewel-tone metallics) took about 8 months, and the cremes about 10 months. I test incessantly and have a lot of good friends in my local area who are willing and ready to test whatever I give them!

Favorite nail art technique?
Well, I think I’d have to go with stamping! 😉
More specifically, I love advanced stamping techniques like decals and leadlighting.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date with your brand?
For me, it’s the number of people for whom I’ve been able to help learn stamping. It’s a technique that takes some time and practice to really perfect, and it helps to have someone available to troubleshoot. I’m always available by email to customers and friends, and have helped several people figure out the little nuances really quickly!

What do you love most about being a business owner?
I love seeing the nail art creations my customers and supporters make with my products. Every once in awhile I see some interpretation of the image that I had not imagined myself, and that makes me smile harder than just about anything!

Chief Spousal Officer/Engineer…lol that’s great! I personally cant wait to see what’s on the plate for It Girl…get it… plate…stamping plate…oh nevermind.

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