MadameNoire Featured Video
1 of 9

Over the last few years, the multi-billion dollar nail polish market has grown exponentially and currently has no signs of slowing down. With discretionary spending down due to economic volatility, women want more affordable options and opportunities to indulge themselves without breaking the bank.

Thus, a star industry was (re) born, making nail polish and all of its accoutrements a must-have fashion accessory.

Now, with new polish brands and categories (gels, magnetics, adhesives, etc) launching almost daily, it’s easy for consumers to get overwhelmed with so many new options to choose from. Which is why we wanted to highlight nail polish companies that are owned by African-American women.

Keep clicking to learn about the African American-owned nail polish companies that should be on your radar.


Founder: Theresa Williamson

Launched: 2011

What is Polish & Company?

“I would describe Polish & Co. as vibrant, trendy matte colors that help you create a wardrobe for your nails!”

What inspired you to create a nail polish company?

“Being a manicurist for twenty-three years, I’ve been surrounded by different brands and polishes and have always wanted to have my own line. I wanted to create quality polishes that last longer on natural nails. Most polishes last longer on acrylic nails, but I hadn’t been able to find a polish that didn’t chip on natural nails.

How did you break into the business?

“I’ve been in the business as a manicurist for over 20 years so it was only natural for me to develop my own line.”

What is the most popular color in your collection?

“’Jeans Too Tight!’ People always go back to it.”


Founder: Courtney R. Vines


What is CocoRae?

“CocoRae is a ‘4 Free’ nail lacquer collection that doesn’t include four toxins that are found in most other nail polish lines: toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and camphor. Our colors are always on-trend with current fashions and there is a color that works for everyone. And our polish is long-lasting and won’t harm your nails.”

What inspired you to create a nail polish company?

“I’ve always loved getting my nails done, but now that I have a young daughter I really don’t have time to go to the nail salon as often, so I thought, ‘Why not just start my own brand?’ I’m 22 years old and I wanted to have something that I could call my own and something that I could pass on to my daughter as she grows older.”


What is the most popular color in your collection?

“My most popular color to date has been ‘Vonnie,’ the mint green in my Spring/Summer 2012 collection.”


Founders: Tiffany Burriss, Tamika Myers and Tammi Allen

Launched: 2011

What is Studio 85?

“We would describe our product as a fresh funky brand of nail polish that caters to fashionistas from our hometown of Washington, DC. As city girls and blood sisters, we’ve watched DC transform styles from the 1970s through 2000s and you can find colors in our four collections that reflect 30-plus years of glamour and style with unique names to match.”

What inspired you to create a nail polish company?

“The inspiration for our nail polish brand is definitely our city and our family. We wanted to honor our city in our favorite way through our favorite beauty product: nail polish. [We] have been painting each others nails since we were little girls and experimenting with designs. It was a fun experience designing the colors for landmarks and sayings that you find in our hometown of DC. We expanded on the idea of the DC Collection with our City Girl Southern Gal Collection which has colors that highlight our parents’ southern roots.”

How did you break into the business?

“We broke into the business by launching our brand to our city. We have always been involved in community events and so we started there, in the community in which we’re from: southeast, DC. We reached out to our neighbors, local universities, friends, family and colleagues, and pitched our idea. The response has been amazing. Homegrown fashionistas loved the concept of nail polish colors named after things they have been around all their lives.”

What is the most popular color in your collection?

“The most popular color as of now is Mambo Sauce. This is a color named after DC natives’ favorite condiment from our local carry-outs. Since actual mambo sauce can be various colors depending on what part of town you’re grabbing food, we thought we’d merge them all together. Our nail gloss color in Go-Go is a close runner-up, designed after our favorite genre of music. It’s black with gold flakes.”


Founder: Bernadette Thompson

Launched: “The Bernadette Thompson collection was the first black-owned nail lacquer brand. We launched in 2001.”

How would you describe the Bernadette Thompson collection?:

“The Bernadette Thompson Nail Care and Color Collection consists of 75 of the latest and most fashion-forward shades. The colors are bold yet effortlessly chic and sophisticated. Each color is carefully created by celebrity manicurist Bernadette Thompson. The collection also includes spa treatments, hand emollients, a top coat, base coat, cuticle oil, polish remover and restorative nail treatments.”

How did you break into the business?

“I have admired Madam C J Walker since I was a very young girl. I opened a small nail salon in Yonkers, NY where Mary. J. Blige and I were raised. One day Mary sent a 16-passenger limo to pick me up and take me to her house. I began to work exclusively with Mary for 10 years on every album cover, every tour, even her wedding day. Mary introduced me to Puff Daddy who then introduced me to fashion and beauty photographers. I started creating colors, formulas and design patterns for some of the largest beauty companies in the world. I would read Madam C J Walker’s book [On Her Own Ground] from time to time when I needed guidance in business. One day I was on the express bus reading her book and on that day I decided to take a leap of faith and create the first black nail brand.”

What is the most popular color in your collection?

“The most popular color in the line is one that we named ‘Shirley;’ after my mother.”


Founder: Keyshia Ka’oir

Launched: 2011

How would you describe Ka’oir Cosmetics?

“KA’OIR is unique and bold. There is a little bit of everything for everyone: lipsticks, lip pops (also known as lip glosses),
nail lacquers, eye shadows, primer and recently launched Glitzsticks (for the glamorous life!). But what makes this brand unique is the high quality and the assortment of colors we carry for each type of product. When you look at KA’OIR products,
from the packaging to the quality when applied, even the individual names for the products, it represents who I am and my unique style. If I wouldn’t wear it, it’s not offered by KA’OIR. I’ve worn every one of my products personally before launching it to my customers. Make no mistake, KA’OIR also has products for the less flashy type with neutral colors such as pink, red, or nude. As I said before, a little bit of everything for everyone.”

What inspired you to create a nail polish company?

“I was mainly inspired to create KA’OIR for myself initially and then for my fans. I wore blue lipstick for the first time and my fans wanted to know where I got it from. The blue I initially wore was a mix I created. But when I saw that other people were interested, I was inspired to get serious about it and launch a full line.”

How did you break into the business?

“I started out modeling. I used it as a stepping stone to create my own personal brand and then my business brand.”

What is the most popular color in your collection?

“I would have to say the blue color is the most popular because that’s the color that inspired the KA’OIR brand. It’s bold and stands out, so many people want to try it just out of curiosity and are surprised to see that they can rock it just as good as I do.”


Founders: Myrdith Leon-McCormack and Monica Promsavanh

February 2009 during New York Fashion Week

How would you describe DamoreJon?

“m2m damorejon is a cosmetics brand that sells nail polish and is extremely dedicated to giving back to our community and our culture. We want to make the world a bit more beautiful and we use our products, our time and our revenue to support charities that benefit Haiti, cancer research and more.”  

What inspired you to create a nail polish company?

“I’ve been a manicurist for 18 years, so launching a nail polish company was a logical next step. It also seemed like the perfect retirement plan and a wonderful way to leave a legacy for my children.”

How did you break into the business?

“One day while I was doing nails, a magazine editor nameed Dianne Hendy came into the salon, loved the service, wrote about it and invited me to be a manicurist on set for her magazine Black Elegance. There I met a celebrity makeup artist, Peter Brown, and he took me under his wing and trained me. He also introduced me to my agent Bradly Curry Management at my first show during New York Fashion Week. The rest is history.”

What is the most popular color in your collection?

Nudes, Let’s talk (inspired by Tyra Banks)


According to their website, Superstar Nail Lacquer was founded by Stacia and Ariana Pierce (CEO Ariana Pierce, above) so that their customers could experience rich girl beauty on a real girl’s budget. It’s super fast-drying and formaldehyde-free.

*Stacia and Ariana Pierce were unavailable to comment on this story. 


Ginger + Liz is a vegan-friendly nail lacquer collection that was created in 2009 by H. Ginger Johnson and S. Liz Pickett.

Watch this video of the girls chatting with Entrepreneur magazine about their vision for healthy nails:

*Ginger + Liz were unavailable to comment on this story.

– – – 

Sakita Holley is a lifestyle writer and the founder of House of Success, a New York-based lifestyle PR firm. You can tweet your thoughts about this story directly to the writer, @MissSuccess.

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN