Coloradans maintain a special devotion to all things au naturel. Whether it’s organic, vegan, non-GMO, hemp, oat-milk, or chemical-free, we keep a close eye on what enters our body—but the skin, our largest organ? Not so much. That’s why Tran Wills opened Base Coat Nail Salon, which she says is Denver’s first completely toxin-free nail spot.
Wills opened Base Coat’s first location in LoHi in 2013, with a mission to hold beauty products to the same high standard as the food that nourishes the body. The idea first came to her a few years prior, when a then-pregnant Wills got a nosebleed while getting a manicure, caused by what she believed to be the salon’s noxious fumes and chemical-filled products. Wills, along with her partner Sarah Simon, spent the next couple years developing a non-toxic nail polish formula that lasts seven to 10 days, and doesn’t compromise on vibrancy or shine. Turns out, a health-conscious nail salon was something Denver had been waiting for: Base Coat has since expanded from one location to four (two are in L.A.), and recently garnered a partnership with Nordstrom.
“Sarah and I are so humbled and still in shock really,” Wills says about Nordstrom selling Base Coat’s polishes. “It’s pretty insane to see our brand beside Chanel and Dior. This is huge for us and huge for Colorado.”
Nordstrom.com now sells 38 different colors from Base Coat’s polish line, ranging from vibrant poppy red to luxurious metallics (plus other skin and nail products like lemongrass and rose hip cuticle serum and soy nail polish remover). If you want to dip your toes (ahem) into the world of clean beauty, Wills recommends starting out by purchasing her three Base Coat staples: their nourishing cuticle oil, glass nail file, and emollient body oil.
Wills’ entrepreneurial success serves as inspiration for innovative small business owners and female leaders. As she looks to the bright future of her company, Wills also reflects on the hard work that grounds her. “There is no such thing as success without many, many failures. Even [when] I just wanted to quit, I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” she says. “Cry, scream, laugh, if you have to, with each step—just keep taking that step.”
BONUS: 6 Perfect-For-Summer Nail Colors from Base Coat
For a casual day in the park: Wills recommends Adobe, a fair-pink that compliments all skin-tones and can be worn with anything
For a summer wedding: Wills says to keep the hands subtle but go for a pop of color on the toes. Try Aquarius, a vibrant blue, or Pie, a bright cherry-red
For a night out with friends: Try a sultry color like Western Daughters, a deep burgundy red
Wills’ favorites: She often pairs Robot, a metallic silver on the toes with Svper Ordinary, a sparkly black on the fingers