Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Color Me Monthly review (and interview!), May 2014

Color Me Monthly is a subscription service that, each month, sends out a bottle of nail color that contains no toxic chemicals and that isn't tested on animals. (Both of those are good things in my book!) Each box costs $7, and shipping is free. I recently received a free bottle of Color Me Monthly nail polish to review. Here's what showed up on my doorstep:

And inside this cute little box was...

...a cute bottle of nail color! I love this hue, which is called "Sirens." I find that I've been gravitating toward greens and blues in my nail polish preferences, and I'm not sure why...maybe because they seem "springy" and happy. In any event, I'll definitely be using this polish.

If you're interested in checking out Color Me Monthly for yourself, head here: Color Me Monthly subscription link


I like the fact that Color Me Monthly produces non-toxic, animal-friendly products, and I especially like the fact that it's a business started and owned by two sisters, Meghann Ham and Caitlin Lowry. I enjoy getting all kinds of subscription boxes, but it's the "mom-and-pop" (or, to be more accurate in this case, the "sister-and-sister") services that really interest me. With that in mind, I asked Meghann a few questions about the company, the logistics of starting a subscription-based business, and the reasons that toluene and other chemicals found in some polishes are big no-nos.

SP: Where did the idea behind Color Me Monthly come from? When did the company begin?

MH: Color Me Monthly was conceived on a Sunday afternoon in August 2012, over a few cups of strong coffee and inspired scribbles in a spiral-bound notebook. When we began our research, we quickly realized that there were many subscription boxes available, but none of them seemed to be offering simple, high-quality polish that is toxin-free, cruelty-free, made in the USA, and still affordable. Delivering high quality at a great price felt like the right problem to solve in the beauty industry.

SP: How did you get the business off the ground? What challenges and rewards did you encounter?

MH: We are still a small company, so we are no strangers to tough challenges.

Figuring out how all the logistical puzzle pieces fit together is probably one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business. Additionally, creating a new brand that people will grow to trust and recognize is an ongoing effort.

Despite the challenges, we are proud to be a growing, woman-owned, small American business in this tough economy. Our wonderful Members have made all of this possible. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing our Members say how much they love our nail polish and then referring their friends and family.

SP: What sets Color Me Monthly apart from other fashion and beauty subscription services?

MH: We feel that not every woman needs or wants multiple bottles of nail polish each month. Some women enjoy having one special monthly treat for themselves. We are seeing that CMM appeals to women of all ages, budgets, and levels of nail polish addiction! Additionally, we keep our packaging simple so that we can pass the savings along to our Members. We feel strongly against the idea of charging our members a premium price for fancy/shiny packaging that will just decorate the recycle bin.

SP: Where do you get the polishes that you include in your shipments? Do you manufacture them yourselves?

MH: We develop prototypes of different pigments and formulas, then work closely with a laboratory to produce the final batch. Earlier this year, Chae, our Chief Technology Officer, developed an automated filling machine to precisely fill all of our bottles. Prototyping, engraving, filling, and packaging now happen in our office, where we can oversee the entire process to ensure the highest standard of quality. Having the in-house capabilities that typically only much larger companies have allows us to deliver uncompromising quality at a competitive price.
SP: What makes your polish safer to use than polishes that contain toluene, camphor, and the like? Why are these substances harmful and why are they typically used in polishes? What ingredients do you substitute in place of these substances?
MH: Toulene, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde resin are the main toxins that can be found in some nail polishes. These chemicals, in high doses, have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and damage to the nervous system. Our lab has been a pioneer in developing non-toxic, high-performance substitutes. Thankfully, the industry as a whole is slowly moving away from these chemicals.

But why stop there? We found that the industry standard of epoxy screening/printing labels involved the use of harsh chemicals. The idea of delivering a toxin-free, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly nail polish formula in a bottle labeled with toxic chemicals just fundamentally clashed with our core beliefs. Laser engraving is an eco-friendly alternative in which no chemicals are used and, since there is no epoxy involved, the recycling plant won't have to use harsh solvents to remove and dispose of the toxins before recycling the glass.

To our knowledge, we were the first and currently the only nail polish manufacturer that laser engraves bottles.

SP: What is the most important thing that you want Subscription Prescription readers to take away about Color Me Monthly?

MH: Our mission is to provide environmentally responsible products with the focus on delivering quality ingredients rather than flashy marketing. Every woman deserves to be beautiful without harming the environment, animals, their bodies, or their bank accounts. After all, nail color should be safe, affordable, and fun!

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