A gel manicure. A little soaking. Some time under the UV lamp, and your nails look great. But is it good for you? Ever wonder about what all the chemicals in nail products are actually doing to your nails and your body? Meet Suzanne Roberta, founder of Adesse New York, and learn about getting great looking, healthy nails:
1. What inspired you to found Adesse? What were you doing before?
From very early on, I have always had a love of cosmetics and beauty products. My first job out of college was a dream job, working for a color cosmetic manufacturer where my role was to develop new products and colors. I created lipsticks, lipgloss, eyeliner, mascara and foundation for customers including Avon, Revlon, Estée Lauder and Elizabeth Arden.
After twelve years in the beauty industry, I decided to go back to school to pursue an MBA in International Management at Thunderbird, School of Global Management. After graduating, I began working with start up companies in the tech space and eventually worked my way back into the cosmetic industry as a consultant helping clients create their own brands and expand their brands’ global footprint.
It’s funny how it started. We were working with a mineral cosmetic brand and customers kept asking if we had nail polish. Randomly, as things usually happen, we got a call from a nail polish manufacturer and we went to meet them. We were playing around with the mineral eyeshadow, mixing it in with clear nail polish and the result was absolutely beautiful! I can still recall that Ah ha moment when we all realized we just created something really cool. That was December 20, 2013.
I really believe that you meet the people and opportunities you are supposed to when the time is right, so we made the decision to begin developing the Adesse brand and launched in March of 2015.
2. What does the name Adesse mean? Why did you choose it?
Adesse is a Latin word that means any possibility that you can think of can become a reality. My husband and I both went through pretty horrible divorces before we met. It’s so sad because divorce often makes people bitter and angry. But that wasn’t the case for us. We both really believed that it was possible to find true love and happiness, so we both joined eHarmony and that’s how we eventually met. I remember feeling that even after going through something so difficult, that finding happiness again was possible. It’s kind of been our life mantra and when we were researching names for the new company, we discovered it and it just felt like the perfect fit.
In life and in business, any thing you can dream of can become a reality. I really believe that.
3. What is unique about Adesse products? Why are they better for us than regular gel nail polish?
Oh, I could talk about this all day long! Firstly, when we began the development of the brand’ we did so based on a tremendous need in the market. Women were damaging their nails with gels, acrylics and toxic products. So many women were caught in the cycle of covering up their unhealthy nails with products that were making the problem worse, but felt they had no alternative.
We took a ‘skin care’ approach to the nails. Think about this — we have skin care regimes that treat our skin with gentle cleansers, hydrating serums and moisturizers. But when it comes to our nails, we treat them with harsh and toxic chemicals.
We wanted to develop a system that could restore nails to a healthy balanced state, so we began working on the Anti-aging Nail Treatment Collection. We developed products that cleanse, prime, strengthen, rejuvenate and grow the nails. Each product is packed with super multi-tasking ingredients like Keratin, Biotins, Bamboo and Argan Oils.
The color polish is a curated collection of beautiful, sophisticated colors inspired by and named for iconic New York landmarks and style mavens. We infuse every polish with a proprietary blend of organic Bamboo Extract, Shea and Argan oil, which helps to condition the nails during the manicure. Each polish is formulated without the twelve most toxic ingredients found in most nail brands. The polish is vegan, gluten free, cruelty free and we make everything in New York. We also use organic pigments similar to those found in mineral cosmetics, so the result is deep layers of incredibly saturated color. This gives the nails a finish like no other polish. We also add minerals to make the polish long wearing and chip resistant.
4. What nail colors/looks do you see trending for Fall?
Definitely a mix of brights, neutrals and deep jewel tones. For Fall / Winter, we decided to step outside the New York world to pay homage to women and witches with a bold, sassy, Bewitched Collection featuring a range of blues, yellow and neutrals.
We had a lot of fun creating this collection. It’s fresh and urban with a lot of attitude. Stay tuned, it’s launching this month.
5. What is your favorite nail color?
That’s like asking who your favorite child is. (Laughs) But ok, if I have to pick one, my current favorite is Saturday Sky. It’s a sophisticated, deep midnight blue that is one of this season’s most wearable neutrals. It’s funny because before I started my company, I was a classic red and French manicure girl. Now I wear almost every color. I think nail color is a great way to express your own personal style.
6. Do you think it’s harder to be a female founder than a male founder?
No, I don’t think is’t harder for women founders, but I do think women and men have different challenges. In the beauty industry, which is highly competitive, I think women have a distinct advantage because we tend to use the products we market and I think it’s always easier to sell products you are passionate about.
7. What has been the most exciting moment for you since you started Adesse?
There have been many exciting moments since we launched, partnering with Ipsy, being invited to launch on HSN, getting our first distributor…have all been amazing big moments. But there’s also such an excitement every day when we talk to our customers who tell us how much they love our products. That makes me feel like we are doing a really good job and I love that feeling!
8. What do you find most challenging about being a business owner? What do you wish you knew before?
Anyone who starts their own business is taking the ultimate bet on themselves. You have to be prepared for the long haul and find a way to ride out the difficult times, the challenges and financial uncertainty. You also have to know going in that there is risk and the possibility of failure. You have to be somewhat comfortable with that. I can remember so many times when I felt like I was driving through a long tunnel with no light in sight. You have to find a way to keep your vision in front of you and not waiver, even when you don’t know what is going to happen next.
In a perfect world, I wish I would have known all of this before I started my company, but I think this is the kind of stuff you learn as you go along.
9. What’s your advice to someone thinking about starting a business? Are there specific classes that you wish you took and/or are glad you took?
My advise to anyone thinking about starting their own business is the be prepared for the uncertainty but also to know that it is going to take time. Nothing worth doing happens over night, but if you stay committed to your goal and refuse to give up, you will find success.
We do business globally, so the classes I took at Thunderbird in cross-cultural communication, international finance and negotiation have helped me tremendously. I wish there was a class that could prepare you to be an entrepreneur, but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can learn in a class. I think you just figure it out as you go.
10. What do you think makes someone a great leader?
I think great leaders are those who are committed to their vision and open to the input of others. I think they inspire people and encourage them to find and be their personal best. I also think great leaders are exceptional listeners, open minded and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. I think they lead by example, stay true to themselves and never stop being grateful.