Nexus Cook, of 25th & June

What is your company?

I have a long lasting, toxin-free, and vegan friendly nail polish company called 25th & June Nail Elixir. I currently have over 30 colors, and every bottle is 7-free, which means the formula doesn’t contain 7 of the most commonly found toxins.

Where did the name come from?

Well, my birthday is June 25th, but I really wanted the name to represent a location…a starting point. I think that accessories, especially nail polish, can be little “places” where inspiration happens. I want the opening of each bottle of 25th & June to feel like the starting point to something new and exciting.

What motivated you to start this business? How long did it take?

To say I’ve always been a nail junkie would be an understatement. But for as long as I can remember, nail polish has always been my “thing”. Before I started my company, I had over 150 bottles, but I got to a point where I was bored with everything I had. So I started to try to make my own with different pigments and ingredients…but that didn’t turn out so great. I then began to do my research and really dig into the cosmetic world to find the best chemists and manufacturers, and eventually, after months and months of research, 25th & June began to take shape.

How do you think your past and upbringing impacted the journey?

This is a really cool question! I think my mother and family have always let me be very free and expressive, and pretty much explore or pursue anything that I was interested in. I’ve always felt like I can do anything I put my mind to. I think having that foundation of freedom definitely gave me the courage to start my own business. A lot of people have amazing ideas, but actually taking the step to make it real is really the hardest part.

Also, I went to the greatest university in the world! Shout out to Temple University!! From day one of my freshman year, I was surrounded by so many cool ass, ambitious people. I know so many entrepreneurs from my university and I think just being around that kind of energy and drive is totally intoxicating.

Have any background in polish or manufacturing? What effect did this have on you and the project?

Before 25th & June, I had no background in manufacturing nail polish. But I had plenty of hands on experience with using it! I’m the kind of person that reads, and questions, and digs deep into a subject when I’m really interested in it. So I applied that same dedication when I started 25th & June. I’m not an expert (yet), but I definitely understand the in’s and out’s of production, the industry, and even the history of nail polish.

Do you have a specific inspiration for the style?

I don’t have any specific inspirations. I really just like pretty things. I think sometimes we overthink style. Just go for what makes you feel good when you look at it or touch it. I do use life experiences when choosing and naming colors. It’s amazing how certain colors can bring up great memories.

How did undertaking this project affect your personal life?

Hmmm. It’s affected my personal life in countless ways, thankfully more positive than negative. It’s opened me up to a larger group of people and places than in the past, and it has forced me to be more outgoing and confident in myself. I believe in balance, but there are of course times when I’m very overwhelmed and don’t always go out or enjoy myself. But I think that’s a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.

Are there any personal values of yours that have become central to the venture?

One of things I want to always keep central to 25th & June is having toxin-free products with no animal testing. There’s absolutely no reason that women need to sacrifice their health for beauty products. As far as personal values, I want to just stay true to myself. If it makes me happy and I’m making decisions and choices with a clear mind and from a genuine place, I think that will shine through in whatever I put out to the world.

Any embarrassing moments?

I’m honestly embarrassed every time I have to present or talk about 25th & June in front of a bunch of people. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. But it’s the weirdest thing ever and pretty much everyday, I talk myself out of feeling so self-conscious about it. I think it’s just that feeling of “putting myself out there” that turns into these moments of embarrassment. I’m a work in progress : )

What's your favorite part of running the business?

I think my favorite part is getting to be totally creative. There’s no one to answer to but myself and that’s an awesome (and sometimes really scary) challenge. But just being able to create something for myself and then share it with the world is pretty cool.

Worst advice you ever received?

I honestly can’t recall the worst advice I’ve ever received…I’m pretty good at blocking out negativity. I do like to hear a lot of different opinions about business and new ideas, but I‘ve learned (and still learning) to be extremely discerning with the advice that I listen to versus the advice I actually take. I really try to just trust my gut.

Any guidance for women looking to start their own venture?

As cheesy as it sounds, I’d say, stay true to yourself. If it doesn’t feel natural, then it’s probably not the right thing. That isn’t to say that starting your own business will be easy. It’s going to be hard, really hard at times. But even with all the ups and downs, it shouldn’t feel like something you have to do, but something you love to do.

Toast Nexus with Vodka Mariette, Order Here.

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