Retail Therapy: Homemade nail polish makers getting popular

The Fresno BeeSeptember 14, 2013 

So what do a couple of nail polish addicts do when they can't find a color they like?

Make their own, of course.

What started as a hobby for friends Hillary Taylor and Yvonne Vallejo of Fresno turned into an obsession and then a mini business called Illume Lacquer.

Glitter is the star of the show with this brand. All the polishes are clear — often put over a colored base coat — with a rainbow of glitter colors available. The FresYES color is light green with hints of blue. Glitter on the Highway is heavy on the black and gray with a touch of yellow. Lady Stardust has multi-colored glitter reminiscent of cupcake sprinkles.

"She's really popular," Vallejo says. "We tend to talk about nail polishes like they're people."

Taylor, 31, and Vallejo, 30, work as managers at mall stores during the day and make their nail polishes in their living rooms, often toiling away into the night. They sell the polishes for $9 a bottle at events, working the craft show circuit in Fresno, selling at holiday bazaars and other craft events.

Most of their sales are local. The Hoot Nest, at 1427 Kern St. in downtown Fresno, carries the polish. And it can also be found online at

You can keep tabs on where they will be (and see some pretty cool nail art) by searching for Illume Lacquer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. When they get enough interest, they'll often set up an event to sell at.

Taylor and Vallejo are really into nail polish. Taylor repaints her nails every other day and her nails have their own Instagram account at @tallarynails. Vallejo's iPhone cover proudly proclaims "Keep calm and paint your nails."

Today they're headed to San Jose to sell at the Eyes on Indie Nail Party event.

Yes, indie nail polish is a thing (seriously, Google it to see all the gorgeous and wacky things you can do with indie nail polish). It's becoming quite popular.

Customers at their events usually express shock that someone can make her own nail polish, and then usually get really excited about buying locally made polish, they say. They've been making it for about a year.

"It's been amazing," Vallejo says. "We were really surprised."

So just how do you make your own nail polish?

"Do you watch 'Breaking Bad?' " Vallejo asks.

It's not quite as involved as making meth, but it is stinky and involves combining chemicals with glitter that they buy from various suppliers.

The first time they tried it, they didn't realize how strong the fumes were and went running outside for fresh air after feeling nauseous and high. It should be noted that the pair did lots of research before starting Illume Lacquer and this is probably not something 14-year-old girls should attempt alone in their bedrooms.

Now, Taylor and Vallejo use masks.

The polishes they make are "three free," meaning they don't have three chemicals — dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde — that are linked to some health issues.

But above all, the pair — friends since their days at Hoover High School — have fun with what they're doing.

You'd have to be having fun to name a color "Kitty Glitter." The silver and teal glitter polish was inspired by gray and blue granules in cat litter.

It's prettier than it sounds.


The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on

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