We love a fresh mani, especially when there is a cute name that we can Instagram to go along with it. What’s even better is being able to make up the cute name to go along with it. Think about all of the phrases that go along with your life, now imagine them sitting pretty on a bottle of polish. Enter Pretty Please and founder Sara Alter.
Tell us about the inspiration for Pretty Please Nail Polish! What is the background story?
It was a complete surprise how the company came about. I was looking for a gift for my mom for the holidays and I was over the same old scarf, jewelry, and spa gift card routine. I was falling asleep one night when I came up with the idea to name a nail polish after her. She has gotten weekly manicures since I was a kid and the idea just clicked. I made a note to buy her the polish the next day but when I went to order her gift online, I couldn’t find a company that personalized nail polish bottles anywhere! After a lot of planning and research, I decided I had to make the nail polish myself.
With so many nail polish colors to choose from (and there are many!), I loved the idea of taking something we already love and making it feel unique and personal. When it comes to a special occasion, like a bridal shower for example, you want a favor that will really represent the day and the bride. Sure, you could easily buy a bottle of nail polish and put it in a gift bag, but there is something about seeing your name personalized on a bottle that shows thought, effort and love.
Today anyone can create their own nail polish with Pretty Please! You select from 27 pretty shades and give it your own unique name. Yes, YOU name it yourself! How fun is that? You can name your polish for wedding events, party favors, baby showers, company branding, and the list goes on! It’s the perfect personalized gift for the lacquer loving gal.
What was the hardest thing about launching your own business?
Like most entrepreneurs I learned a lot about the challenges of launching my business as they came up. No personalized nail polish company with this business model existed before Pretty Please so I had no road map to follow. Initially, the biggest challenge was finding a printer who would work with such small quantities. We sell a minimum of one bottle which is not the norm in the printing world, where the minimum order falls into the hundreds. As the business grew, other challenges arose like having to learn how to understand and juggle multiple industry roles all at the same time. I initially thought I would need to learn about the beauty and gifting industries, but in reality, any given day requires that I understand and execute the role of CEO, accountant, customer service rep, business development strategist, public relations, marketing and social media executive, website developer, and everything in between. It’s been an incredible, and challenging, learning experience from day one, and continues to be every day.
It’s Saturday morning, what can we find you doing?
It has taken me years, but I really try and use my weekends to relax and have fun, instead of doing work. The first couple of years after starting Pretty Please, weekends didn’t really exist. I’m currently 6 months pregnant so I’ve been doing a lot of organizing, furniture shopping and “nesting”, as they say.
What is your go-to Pretty Please Nail Polish color?
I have a soft spot for color #5 (hot pink) because it’s the color that started this crazy adventure, but right now I’m really into color #1 (dark purple shimmer). There is something about this festive shade that’s getting me in the mood to dress up for all of my holiday parties.
We’re sure there are some fantastic name creations – what has been a favorite that you have seen?
I have seen a few proposals come across my desk (“Marry Me Rachel”), which is always heartwarming but I have always loved “Hold my Dress while I Pee”, from a bride-to-be asking her MOH to stand by her side on the big day. So funny, and so true.
What does a day in the office look like for you?
As I’m sure you hear all the time from business owners, there is no such thing as a typical day. Depending on the time of year (holidays, wedding season, etc.) some days have a more creative focus (i.e., photo shoots, picking new polish colors, social media collaborations, public relations and marketing efforts), where other days are less glamorous (i.e., re-stocking inventory, website maintenance, budget overviews). The only consistent part of every day is my morning trip to Starbucks.
What piece of advice would you give twenty-somethings looking at creating their own business?
If you want to be an entrepreneur, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. They have been in the trenches and that’s where you will really learn and understand what it takes to run your own business. Having an awesome idea and a profitable business are two very different things and any entrepreneur knows that. Your family and friends will be there to cheer you on and tell you your idea is awesome (because, it probably is!), but building a network of like-minded, knowledgeable, and passionate business owners will be extremely beneficial to help you execute and achieve success. Apply for internships or reach out to a business owner you admire and ask to take them out for coffee to pick their brain. You will be surprised how open entrepreneurs are about sharing their experiences and expertise.
What word defines the twenty-something years?
Hangover. Just kidding, “growth”.
What are two things we couldn’t find out about you by looking online?
Let’s see… I’m only 5 feet tall and I love watching kitten videos, especially when I’m stressed out. It’s hard not to soften up and smile and I highly recommend trying this (or a puppy video if cats aren’t your thing) before sending any angry emails!
What is it like living in New York City as an entrepreneur? Would you recommend it?
Being able to start a business in New York City has been amazing. There are so many start-ups here, so many creative people, and I have been able to network with and befriend so many awesome entrepreneurs who have helped and supported me along the way. It doesn’t come without its challenges though. The cost of living is really high and so is the cost of office space (hence everyone working out of coffee shops). Your profits are also spread very thin here. It’s certainly a trade-off but I really can’t imagine having started my business anywhere else.
Did we miss anything? Let us know!
Your 20’s are an incredibly fun but often overwhelming time. If you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do “when you grow up”, my advice would be to work hard wherever you are, pay attention to what gets you feeling passionate and energized, and take it a day at a time. I started Pretty Please when I was 30 years old. There is no deadline for your next great idea so try not to get discouraged and enjoy the ride!