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LVX Founder Branka Tomic Talks High-Fashion, Vegan Nail Polish

Photo: LVX Founder Branka Tomic
Photo: LVX Founder Branka Tomic

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Nail polishes are supposed to be long-lasting. But LVX aspires to be much more, combining long, glossy wear with a vegan and eco-friendly formula, and an exclusive focus on putting out colors seen only on New York runways. The Chicago brand is run by brother-sister entrepreneurs Rade and Branka Tomic, who rely on Branka's background in fashion and Rade's business savvy to get their luxury polishes on yearning fingers. In just two years, LVX grew to be a brand sold in over 60 retailers across the country and in 10 retailers overseas.

We took a minute to speak with Branka about the process of converting runway style into packaged polish and what she has in store for LVX in the future.—Courtney Ryan

Photo: LVX Nail Polishes

Racked: You draw a lot from runway shows. Can you speak to your process and how you use the fashion industry to create your nail polishes?

Branka: Each seasonal collection is based on the top trending colors from the runway. So each season we closely study all of the different shows and presentations and create custom color palettes based off the top six colors we see.

R: With a background in fashion what made you focus so heavily on nail polish rather than, say, apparel?

B: I think nail polish really goes beyond cosmetics. I think the way the trend has been going lately it has become almost a fashion accessory. We wanted to bridge fashion and cosmetics because I think it's incredibly relevant and important the way they complement one another. There are a lot of brands out there that just kind of throw colors out at customers so I wanted to educate customers and show them exactly how and why these are the top trending colors without them having to wait for, you know, In Style to tell them in an editorial. This way we're giving it to the customers freshly at the launch of each season.

R: Going along with that, what do you think has caused the shift from muted cosmetics to nail art and such dramatic nail colors in recent years?

B: I think it's because it has evolved into an accessory. It's a really great way for women to express their personalities and it's a way they can customize something and make it their own. It's also something you can change often.

R: What do you think makes LVX different from other nail polish brands?

B: The fact that our colors are based off the top trending colors of the runway. That's not something that other brands do. Also, our formula is second to none. It's incredibly opaque and highly pigmented. A lot of our colors only require one coat and sometimes a top coat isn't even necessary because our lacquers are that shiny. They're extremely high shine and long-lasting.

R: What inspired you to create a vegan and environmentally friendly brand?

B: I think a lot of brands out there focus on just one thing. So let's say when a brand is eco-friendly or vegan they kind of throw out that whole luxury aspect and fashion-infused aspect. I don't think there's a reason why luxury can't go along with being eco-friendly and I think there's a really big market for it. Also, I love animals, which is where [being a vegan brand] came from. Every April we donate to the ASPCA for the anti-animal cruelty fund and we plan on doing more charity work with animals.

R: You run the company with your brother, Rade. What's it like working with your brother? Is there any sibling rivalry?

B: When we are working together it is incredibly professional and then when we're off the clock we go back to being brother and sister. Running the business together actually made our relationship a lot stronger. We find ourselves spending more time together and we have the same group of friends. I bring the more creative side to the table and he brings the more business-y financial side. It works out very well, actually.

R: What is something you're excited about in your 2014 collection?

B: For the month of October we're donating to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. We're donating 100% of profits from our signature pink, it's called Lolli. So I'm really excited about that. I think it's really important because half of this company is female-owned, so it's a great cause for us to be contributing to.

R: What about plans for 2015?

B: Starting this holiday season we're going to be partnering with a new brand called Model Atelier. They're launching a holiday pop-up shop at the 900 North Michigan building. It's a new women's line created by Ford model Robin Harris for women who are 5'9" and taller. It's local and luxury so it just made sense to work together. Also, I can't say too much, but we're going to be launching a complete manicure system that will provide everything top-to-bottom that you would need for a professional manicure. We're building it so that our spa partners can use it but so can customers at home.

R: What is your favorite LVX color?

B: [Laughs] I get this question all the time and it's so hard for me to answer. But my favorite color from the fall collection is this gray called Oyster. It's really beautiful. It's a medium gray and has a tint of blue in it. I think it's just a really great transition color for fall because I know a lot of people aren't ready to dive into the dark dark colors yet for fall and winter.

R: Where is your favorite place in Chicago to get a manicure?

B: Probably Mario Tricoci in the 900 [North Michigan] building. I just love how much attention to detail their nail techs pay. When you're there you're not just rushed in and out of a chair. They actually take the time and it's always close to perfect, if not perfect.
· LVX [Official Site]
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