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Insider Scoop: Interview with Floss Gloss Co-founder Janine Lee

If your digits are itching for some new and trendy nail inspo, Floss Gloss Ltd has got you covered. Known for their unique color selection, high-quality lacquers, bold packaging and bumpin’ Instagram account  Floss Gloss is the up-and-coming nail polish company you should have on your radar.

Not only are these polishes bad AF, but each formula is vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and 7-free (AKA crafted without:  Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) or Xylene — chemicals that are often found in other nail polish brands). Cheers to that!

The brilliant minds behind this brand are power duo Aretha Sack and Janine Lee. The pair first met in college, and became friends through their passion for — you guessed it — nails and nail polish. In 2011, they launched Floss Gloss Ltd in San Francisco and later moved to Brooklyn to further grow their brand — and oh how it’s grown!

I had the wonderful opportunity to ask Janine Lee some insider Q’s on the beginnings of Floss Gloss, her inspirations and her story. Here’s what she had to say:

Floss Gloss Nail Polish in ‘Lipliner

Why nail polish? What about it inspired you to create this company?

“I love color – all sorts.  And I like wearing it on my nails, maybe not my face.  When Aretha and I met in college, she was mixing her own nail polish colors which re-sparked my passion for nails / nail art.   I really saw potential in our small vision we had in the last year of college and I just ran with it.  Like a crazy person.”

What were some of the difficulties you and Aretha Sack faced when starting up your brand?

“There were, and are, still many.  To this day, [the] biggest difficulty is knowing what decision to make + gaining capital/funding to make sure we stay afloat.  We were very under capitalized when we started Floss Gloss in 2011.”

Why was creating a cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and 7-free product important to you?

“We’ve always designed for the consumer and what is important to them/us.  As avid polish consumers, Aretha and I were already very in-touch with products available on the market, their ingredients, ethos, etc.  It was obvious to us to design for the conscious shopper, especially in the Bay Area.  Plus, you’re putting your hands in and around your mouth and body.  I don’t want my manufactures, their suppliers, and what I’m using on my nails to be toxic or tested on animals – ever.  But I also don’t want that to be like the point of the product.  We’re creating incredible color, and it just happens to have those qualities, at a budget-friendly price point.”

Did you face any challenges creating a high-end product that is cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and 7-free?

“Of course, we needed to find someone to actually work with us.  It took months in 2011 before we were able to find someone to take a meeting with a 22 year old with no trade or business experience in the industry – or any money for that matter.   But what was lucky, is that when we did find the right match, we were able to work on our formula and colors for almost a year before releasing our first collection.” 

What is one of your brand’s biggest accomplishments thus far?

Probably the fact that Floss Gloss is still around 5+ years later and with every year we grow stronger.  And last month, Emma Watson name-dropped us in an interview.  Because the product actually functions.”

What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

“So many things.  But [the] biggest is take care of yourself.  Self-care is so important (esp in 2017).   If you give everything away without re-charging, your work will consume you.

When ‘they’ say it’s gonna be hard – it really is x 100000.  Every entrepreneur’s experience is unique, but it really is a labor of love.  Try and mentally prepare for lots of decision making, put on your metaphysical helmet and trust your gut.”

Where do you draw inspiration from?

“I draw inspo from music, nature, history, art, experiences, fashion, color – basically like anywhere it feels right.”

How did you and Aretha Sack allocate lacquer colors for the Zodiac collection?

“We interpreted the colors based on the feel and research we did on the 12 zodiac signs.  Also thought a lot about our friends and their signs / color gravitation.”

What nail polish are you rocking today?

“Currently in Night Palm!”

What does the future hold for Floss Gloss?

“If I knew I would feel a lot more secure!  But good things!”

To check out their amazing products, visit their website: — you won’t be disappointed!


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