This Genius Tool Makes Painting Your Nails at Home Pretty Much Foolproof

After decamping to New York City from a small town in western Pennsylvania, I distinctly remember the girls in my dorm being particularly impressed with my ability to paint my own nails. I was completely baffled by these “big city” kids who hailed from exotic locales like California, Connecticut, and New Jersey, as they were far more worldly than I in many respects. (I mean, they grew up eating sushi, which seemed very sophisticated to me at the time.) Camping out in front of the TV with a bottle of nail polish was a near-meditative activity I’ve enjoyed since the age of eight. Like riding a bike or learning to swim, an at-home manicure was a life skill most of my friends growing up had mastered — mainly because we didn’t have another option. There was no corner nail salon with a mani/pedi deal for $30. Getting your nails done was an expensive endeavor reserved for special occasions only, like prom. And yes, we all went to the local mall and splurged on acrylics with airbrushed French tips.

Olive June The Poppy 16 Polish not included

Olive & June The Poppy, $16; *Polish not includedCourtesy of Olive & June

While it is said that necessity is the mother of invention, innovation in the at-home manicure category is scarce. At least until now. According to Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Olive & June, a chain of superchic nail salons based in Los Angeles, I was not alone in having a limited amount of affordable resources. My DIY skills, however, were in fact rare. After polling people around the country, Gibson Tuttle discovered that women outside of metropolitan areas like New York, L.A., and San Francisco treated themselves to six professional polish jobs a year compared to a whopping 45 salon manicures for coastal city dwellers. “We realized that women were not participating in the nail category as much as they wanted to because services were double the price and there was a shortage of manicurists and nail salons in the rest of the country,” explains Gibson Tuttle. “Another common complaint we received when we surveyed people is that there is a lack of education around DIY manicure.” Without changing the labor market overnight and setting up shop in every town that warranted demand, the business-savvy beauty entrepreneur decided to “deliver Olive & June happiness” to everyone via The Poppy. This millennial pink, soft-touch rubber tool fits over the cap of any polish bottle and provides control and comfort so that nail polishing novices can easily paint with their dominant and non-dominant hands.

Admittedly one of those city girls who hadn’t perfected the art of the at-home mani, Gibson Tuttle committed to a full year of DIY polish jobs (i.e., no cheating at Olive & June) in 2018. She road-tested every prototype, experienced the struggles routinely faced by her customers, and created an ergonomic solution in tandem with manicurists and industrial designers that would help stabilize shaky hands and provide a bigger surface area for a more comfortable grip. “Most polish bottles are pretty, but the handles are small and difficult to use, especially with your non-dominant hand,” she explains. “It also takes most people at least seven to eight times to get good at doing an at-home manicure, so you often lose them on their journey. I wanted to find a way to empower and excite them while they were learning. If you feel a sense of accomplishment, you’ll keep going.” Think of The Poppy like a set of training wheels that build your self-esteem while you work out the wobbles. “The Poppy is a gateway,” says Gibson Tuttle, who compared her confidence-boosting invention to the game-changing Beautyblender. “I was never able to properly apply my own foundation, but when I started using the sponge, I understood the concept and achieved a certain level of success. I wanted people to say to themselves after using The Poppy, ‘I can do this every Monday night while I watch The Bachelor.’”

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