How do you know you've made it as a beauty blogger? When not one but two major nail polish companies recruit you to design colors for their brands. That's what happened to Michelle Mismas a mere two years into her stint as the voice behind All Lacquered Up, arguably the first beauty blog dedicated to nails, and certainly the most popular to date. Her site has a huge (and we do mean huge) following, and not just because she trailblazed a path for nail lovers to unite. Michelle writes with a smart, witty sense of curiosity, and has that hungry journalist's drive for bringing her readers information they can't find anywhere else (seriously—I've worked in the beauty industry for over 10 years, and in the month since I've starting reading her blog, she's brought five new nail polish brands to my attention that I'd never heard of before. Amazing.). I spoke with Michelle about how she parlayed a love for polish into a full-time career.
Where did nail mavens get their fix before you founded your site? There wasn't much out there! There was a group of us who had a nails message board on Makeupalley.com, but we were always searching for the next big thing from the brands, and we didn’t know where to find it because beauty blogs rarely covered nails at that time. So I thought, I’ll start a nails blog, and when we find photos of new polish collections, I’ll post them and show people what I’m wearing, what I’m liking, and so on.
The site started to grow when other bloggers such as Annie at Blogdorf Goodman posted about it. But the big moment came about two months after I'd started the site, when Andrea Pomerantz-Lustig from Glamour wrote about it on the magazine's beauty blog. After that, I logged on to my site one day, and BOOM—all these people were following me! I couldn't believe it.
Three years later, you're a regular attendee at New York Fashion Week. How did that come about? Back in 2008, another beauty website that I contribute to invited me to the fall shows in New York. They got me backstage access to interview the nail teams, and I just had a blast. The following season, I reached out directly to nail companies about covering their shows, and it became a regular gig after that. It's so exciting that designers now give nails as much attention as the hair and makeup. Diego Binetti does gorgeous, intricate nails. Ruffian has embraced the French moon manicure, and they put a new twist on it each season—there’s always a story behind their nails, which I love. And recently, The Blondes had every model in their show wearing a different set of custom tips. It was amazing the amount of time they dedicated to creating the nails.
You're creating a few trends of your own. Tell us about designing your own limited-edition polishes.Barielle and Rescue Beauty approached me around the same time about doing collaborations. They didn't have a problem with my doing both projects, because the concepts were different: Barielle asked me to design a seasonal collection, while Rescue wanted me to create one signature shade. A lot of my readers were surprised that the Rescue shade I created, Mismas, was purple and not green, because I’m always blogging about how much I love green polish. But Ji Baek [the founder and owner of Rescue Beauty] is known for making incredible cream polishes that really deliver on color, so I wanted to play to her strong suit. And I also wanted to create something I didn’t already have. I’d always searched for the perfect purple cream polish—not too red, not too sheer. And Ji, whom I adore because she's a total perfectionist, did not give up until we got it right!
You've collected over 400 bottles of nail polish—where do you find room for them all?! It's funny, when my boyfriend and I moved a few years ago, he said, “We have to find a house with a room just for your polishes.” We found one with a den that had been converted from a porch. Now it's known as “the polish room.” I store everything in there, organized by color, and I do all of my blogging in there. Luckily because it used to be a porch, it has really good light!
For a collector, what's the most valuable shade? There’s an old O.P.I. shade called Greenforest that's so old, no one even knows which collection it’s from. Someone in Australia found a stash of them and was selling them on ebay for something like $80 a bottle. People were going nuts for it! But it's cool that now there are polish collectors, just as there are for clothing or fragrance. It makes me proud to do what I do for a living. I was an accountant for 15 years, but now that All Lacquered Up is my full-time job, for the first time I’m doing something that I truly love. Sure, a nail blog is a little silly and girlie, but I’m so proud of it because I did it all by myself.