Cuticle Deep

PUBLISHED October 10, 2020

I’ve always envied girls with nice nails. When someone with a beautiful manicure says she did it herself, or that her healthy set of long, nimble nails were hers and not a set of press ons, I thought–impossible, no one really has nice nails, right??

It’s actually a semi-secret struggle I’ve never opened up about before now. I desperately want nice nails but assumed because of my complete lack of patience for nail drying and general proclivity for chips and breaks that beautiful nails would never be a reality for me. I simply didn’t have what it took.

So I consigned myself to just keeping them bare and short. The simplest solution. A solution that would allow me to avoid disappointment at the fact that they just wouldn’t grow, or would never be strong and hold up within my daily life. 

Turns out I had a major blindspot in my nail care routine: cuticle oil. Yes, I’ve buffed, I’ve trimmed, I’ve base and top coated, but never had I used a cuticle oil! 

Well, enter Kat Flynn. Los Angeles based founder of the new nail care brand Elixir. Kat sent me a nail-saving care package of delicious smelling cuticle oils that sit encouragingly by my bedside table, inviting me to a little pre-sleep treat. 

I chatted with Kat about the importance of healthy nails, starting a business during a pandemic, and what it’s like to collaborate-at-home with your creative hubby. 

And because Kat is on a mission to build strong nail beds across the world, readers of Peek can treat themselves to 15% off any Elixir oils by using code PEEKMAG

For the first time I’ve stopped trimming my nails short and am letting them grow. Still haven’t mastered the perfect manicure, but I’m on the right track! 

Tell us about yourself! 

I grew up in a very small, small borough in Pennsylvania. Like a lot of other small towns there’s not much that you can do, so I think my main focus growing up was playing sports. That’s definitely how I discovered my competitive side. From basketball to swimming to track I always was looking to find ways to get better and that’s definitely shined through my professional work. 

When I eventually did move to New York City I was there for about six years. I kick started my career in digital advertising and now that I have relocated [to Los Angeles] I’ve been able to still work in digital advertising and at night have been focusing on building Elixir. 

What was the inspiration behind Elixir? Why create a nail and cuticle oil? 

I think it started out when I decided I was only going to go to nail salons that focused on nail health. You start to really notice a difference in your nails when you’re taking care of them correctly and this inspired me to start practicing on my own nails. Eventually I wanted to go to cosmetology school to get licensed, but like a lot of other people, all my goals came to a stop when the coronavirus hit. I remember feeling super confused the first couple weeks about what I was going to do next, but I knew I was still passionate about nail care. That’s when I created Elixir. 

I realized that there were so many of us that saw nail care as an afterthought and sometimes it was completely overlooked, but now more than ever I think it’s time for extra pampering. It was an opportunity for me to create a brand on the importance of taking care of our nails but I’m also able to build a community along the way. 

Why is it important to establish a nail care routine? Why are our nails something we should pay extra attention to? 

I think it’s super important to start a nail care routine, especially at home. For any nail growth I always recommend adding a cuticle oil to your daily regime. You’ll see my messaging everywhere, it’s: Nail Care Starts Here. I already know that taking care of my nails can be difficult and confusing so I try to keep it simple by helping other people create new habits, and it’s simply adding cuticle oil to your routine everyday. It’s such a savior to all nail problems, and it really works to nourish and promote strong nail growth. In return that will keep your cuticles and nails looking and feeling healthy. 

We do tend to think of our nails as an afterthought but you always notice when someone has great nails. 

Especially after a manicure you always hear, “Did you just get your nails done? They look great.” You want to upkeep that [quality] on your nails and a great way to properly keep that manicure through the two weeks when you’re waiting to get your next one is cuticle oil. Cuticle oil is a way to prolong a manicure from any chipping or cracks. 

Your brand overall is super cute and you have a great style and aesthetic. What is some of the inspiration? 

Thank you for that. I think my style is actually pretty simple. I find a lot of inspiration just through everyday things that I enjoy, whether that’s sports or sneakers or art. I personally don’t come from a marketing background, so creating that perfect vibe for my brand actually gives me anxiety. You constantly see these bigger brands doing cool things, [but being] in a small space you get to set your own standards. I found that my best work comes from doing what’s best for me and then people gravitate towards that. 

You moved to LA with your boyfriend and you mentioned to me before that he helped with some of the branding. Can you talk a little about what it was like working together? 

We have an extra den and we’ve made it into our work space. It’s been a way for us to actually work together and collaborate because we both have our own brands right now. I got super lucky with him because he comes from a brand marketing background, so I’ve been able to learn a lot, but the e-commerce business side of it is very new to us, so that’s where we have the most fun. All day we’re going back and forth with ideas about how we can approach our own brands and then after trial and error we’ll exchange our notes and see what works. That’s really helped us both get better individually but also collectively everyday. 

So many people dream about starting their own thing and you actually went ahead and did it and now run your own brand and business. In what ways has your life changed since launching Elixir? 

I definitely stay busy, but I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. When you start a new brand you quickly realize how many different roles you have to take on. It can definitely get overwhelming with the feeling that you have to get everything in motion right away. The most important thing I’ve learned from launching a brand is remember to unplug. I love unplugging. I definitely wasn’t doing this enough at the start of launching my brand. I realized that finding time for yourself is so important for both your mental and physical well-being. That for me can be anything from exercising, taking a walk, going on a bike ride or just watching basketball on T.V. 

What kind of advice would you have for someone considering starting a venture of her own? 
I used to get super frustrated when I would hear the words find your passion because it was so hard for me to pinpoint what that was. What I found super helpful, and for anyone who is feeling stuck, was [simply] writing down the things that I enjoy doing. It literally can be anything, because I feel that anything can be a business it’s just about how you approach it. For nails, I thought I was going to take this traditional route of going back to school and opening a salon, but with everything that went on with the pandemic I was able to create my own opportunities–create my own ecommerce business. I feel that other people can do that too.

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