Nail parlors as inviting as a Starbucks? Seems like an impossibility, but Julep founder Jane Park envisioned nail salons as bonding places for women, much like golf courses are for men, and made it a reality. In 2007, she opened the first Julep nail parlor in Seattle and today runs a brand that specializes in nails but also offers skincare, beauty, and hair products that are sold at Sephora and online. Building a social media community has been key to the brand’s success and now includes thousands and thousands of members. Here Jane shares her story with Beauty in the Bag.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in the beauty business?
I was a lawyer and worked at Starbucks launching new businesses before I got the idea for Julep after an amazing weekend with my two best girlfriends. I’ve always loved pajama parties and bonding over the latest in color and beauty. Men have golf courses, so why can’t women have a fun bonding experience at home, the spa, or the nail parlor with joint appointments or moveable nail stations set up in groups? Beauty should be about collaboration and support of one another.
What’s the philosophy behind Julep, and what sets it apart from other cosmetics brands?
At Julep, we believe beauty is about connection, not competition. By working collaboratively with the women in our communities, we innovate much more rapidly than traditional beauty companies. Last year, we launched over 300 new products. I especially love helping women push beyond their comfort zone with new colors and treatments.
Julep nail colors are named after inspiring women. Who has personally inspired you?
Marion Wright Edelman, who founded the Children’s Defense Fund, has always been an inspiration to me. I love women who are smart and caring, and want to leave the world a better place then they found it.
What is your beauty mantra?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Have fun; try something new! Julep began as a tribute to some of my best friends who wanted a different way to share in the discovery of things that make us look good and feel great. As a result, Julep is more than our collection of beauty products. It’s a community of real women who tell it like it is, root us and each other on, and never let us settle for ordinary.
Which are your “hero” products from the Julep range?
Of course, our innovative nail polish, which leverages the same oxygen technology first used in contact lenses to enable your nail beds to breathe with ultra-fast dry times. A fast emerging cult favorite is our Bare Face Cleansing Oil, which I use everyday—I even wash my hands with it! It’s enriched with our proprietary Power Cell Complex™, a trio of skin-boosting superstars like nourishing rosehip seed oil (a natural source of vitamins A & C) that helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and post-acne marks and bonds moisture to skin, as well as Malvaceae Lipid Extract™—a lipid complex that provides immediate and long-lasting hydration and works to rebuild skin structure from the inside out, and green coffee bean oil—a natural anti-inflammatory that promotes cell turnover (because we’re from Seattle we love our coffee!).
Freedom Top Coat is another—a quick-dry top formula that cures smudge-free under natural light in just five minutes; no UV light required, but the shine is very gel-like. 100% of women who used Freedom Polymer Top Coat passed the “smudge test” after fice minutes, compared to 0% who used the leading regular top coat
What’s next for Julep?
We continue to develop more skincare and beauty products, but nails is where we started and have some very big news for next year. We have some very exciting, patent-pending innovation that we’re thrilled to introduce in the coming year—you’ll see some game-changing new ideas from us.