Cosmetics | Passport Polish
A Polish is Worth a Thousand Words
For Marion Alejos-Puente, inspiration knows no borders
New Orleans based and Latina-owned, Passport Polish was born from founder and owner Marion Alejos-Puente’s love for both travel and nail polish. Each handmade product is inspired by a different country, and Alejos-Puente determines the exact colors and shades by identifying a unique aspect of the polish’s namesake: everything from flags and national flowers to local agriculture have been represented in her extensive line. She’s constantly inspired by new cultures, cuisines and experiences and has traveled to 13 countries on her quest to find her next source of inspiration.
Passport Polish is certified by Leaping Bunny cruelty-free standards, as Alejos-Puente carefully creates her ten-free, vegan polishes without formaldehyde, toluene, camphor or other harmful materials. As her business grows, she’s passionate about remaining environmentally and socially conscious, which led her to create a small business grant at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s all part of an effort, she says, to keep our communities vibrant.
In what ways are you thriving and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19?
When the news of the state shutdowns began, I thought my business was over with. I sell handmade nail polish. Who is going to want that during a crisis? However, with nail salons being shut down, my business began to thrive. I recently started to offer press on nails, and those took off immediately! I then shifted my strategy to offer nail kits with easy-to-follow instructions for sizing and application so that people could do their own nails at home. It is a form of self-care and a tiny piece of normalcy for my customers during these uncertain times.
Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ve embraced?
A major lesson I have learned throughout this has been that you should always be ready to change your strategy at the drop of a hat. My initial plans for Spring 2020 were to expand to a full range cosmetic brand offering a wide variety of products. These last two months, I instead have spent most of my time making press on nails more than anything, and I have really enjoyed it! I know each set is going to bring some comfort to the customer it is being made for. A product that didn’t even account for much of my sales before has become a brand new baby that I have enjoyed watching grow. As far as new technology, I have done one-on-one Zoom tutorials with customers to teach them about nail care and give tips on making their nails last. I will also admit that I joined Tik Tok (like every other 30-something year old) to connect to a bigger audience (the kids are hilarious, too!)
…you should always be ready to change your strategy at the drop of a hat.
– Marion Alejos-Puente, Owner
What has been your experience with the change to remote working?
Passport Polish started in my parent’s dining room, so I was familiar with working from home; however, meetings with my vendors and customers are now all on Zoom. Product photoshoots are also home based now. I do a series of backyard photoshoots to display current items for sale, and I post more videos of myself on social media announcing any updates. I usually like to display my work and not myself, so having more of an online presence has been a major shift, but I am happy to discuss my company!
Do you anticipate your business will change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how?
I do expect my business to shift once nail salons open back up. I will go back to B2B sales with nail salons and then expand my cosmetic line. My hope is the customers I gained during this time will stick with us to see the new products that we have to offer!