Moxie Nail Varnish
Mary Ann “EM” Kilgore, Hugh Kilgore
Headquarters: Laguna Hills, CA
Founded: January 2022
Tell us how Moxie came to be? My mom had one of the first unisex salons in our area. I thought the notion of separating men and women in a salon situation was strange. After all, everyone needed haircuts! I carried this open-minded thinking with me as I started my own career a cosmetologist after high school and enjoyed an amazing career as a hair stylist. I even opened a full-service salon four years after receiving my license. I transitioned from hair into doing nails in 2010-2014 and had a very successful client base in Laguna Beach. During that period, I realized how closed-minded the world was in terms of gender expression. I owned several private studios and attracted a diverse clientele. One of my clients, Jillian, left a lasting impression on me. Jillian was transgender and felt very uncomfortable at salons until she started visiting me for regular manicuring appointments. After hearing how self-conscious Jillian was about getting their nails done, I felt compelled to make a difference one day. In 2014, I started mixing custom nail polish for my clients by mixing parts of other nail polish. This evolved into learning how to make nail polish from start to finish. I launched my first brand quickly (Mystique Nail Luster) and clients loved it. I immediately had companies approach me about making private label products. I switched gears and focused on just that, and OC Minx Cosmetics was born. I put my own brand on the back burner and focused on private label manufacturing. Moxie Nail Varnish was a thought incubating, and I just had to wait for the right time in life to bring it to life.
How do you balance running OC Minx with the needs of Moxie? We keep our businesses completely separate in the areas of production and team member scheduling. Our private label clients are important to us, and we adhere to our schedule commitments and client needs. We are committed to keeping these customers confidential. I started this business in 2015, out of the passion for serving people and doing what I love. Helping entrepreneurs build a brand with nail polish that I personally developed is a great honor. Because this is time-driven, this work is done at the start of the day and we focus on meeting these demands. Production and marketing for Moxie Nail Varnish can be done off of peak hours. It just takes planning ahead. With Moxie, there is the freedom to create and to ship orders by utilizing evenings, weekends and early morning hours. It is a funny thing, but when you do what you love, it really doesn’t feel like work at all!
What sets your brand apart? We are a brand that has a mission to be inclusive, give back to charity and involve people in product creation. First, we are a gender-neutral brand, and involve everyone in our concept. We have a heart for diversity and honor individuality. We believe painting the nails, cosmetics and fashion should be genderless. I love the way people have evolved to become more fluid in the way they dress and express themselves through cosmetics. I want Moxie Nail Varnish to be a part of this evolution. Second, we focus on giving, and connect our products to monthly fundraising efforts. We do this through our influencer collabs and by identifying important causes [Moxie’s Betty shade honors Betty White that benefits the ASPCA, for example]. Third, we involve our fans in the creation of our products. Our fans can suggest a color on our website or we partner with an influencer to design their own color with us. The influencer collabs are very special. The influencer feels a sense of pride and ownership because they create the color, their name is imprinted on the bottle and they get a high sales commission on that product. These collabs are an exciting and unique way to involve people in the product development with this hands-on approach.
If you could have one “do-over” with Moxie, what would it be? I love where the brand has come in such a short time. I interact with our social media fans daily and utilize their feedback to shape Moxie Nail Varnish. My one only regret is that I wish we had launched sooner. I kept the brand in testing mode for nearly five months and lost a bit of the excitement for the October 2022 official launch. I was as certain about the brand as much then as I am now. I think the do over would be to just have more moxie and be bold and just do it!