Today's post is a sad one, and a story which has touched me personally this year, as it centres on one of my closest DD pals, Kerrie from Pish Posh and Polish.
For as long as I have, Kerrie has run a blog. As a guitarist, she has short nails, and has endured endless trolling for not having pretty claws like other bloggers. Despite it being upsetting, Kerrie has handled it like a pro, and I salute her response to such bullying.
Last year, she finally did the thing she'd wanted to do for ages, and launched her own indie brand - Quirk (which I named). It was the first UK indie which for me had the same creative and qualitative aspects as the best of the US indies, and I supported her however I could.
Unfortunately, life is full of bitter people, and someone who had a personal agenda against Kerrie reported her polishes to the Trading Standards people. Unlike in the USA, in Europe, each polish has to be tested and proven safe before it can be sold - not possible when the certificate costs £200 per polish you create.
So this person reported Kerrie, and as a result Kerrie lost her business, her future and her passion. Other UK indies closed shop too, out of fear. I have a few other thoughts - but let's hear Kerrie's story first.
I had always wanted to start my own Indie polish line. I like to analyse things (which probably stemmed from my Degree in English Literature) and love polish that represented things. I always wanted to create a line that was inspired by my favourite things, where every single glitter had a particular representation and a real reason for being there.
I had been making my own polish for a long time before the first Indie Polish brands launched in the UK. As soon as I saw polish base (which due to restrictions in the UK had always previously been hard to buy in bulk) was now available in the UK I jumped at the chance to make my dreams a reality.
Two years ago I had come out of University with a degree but was unable to find work so for me making polish was always a business and not just a hobby. This meant I became extremely stringent with testing and the professionalism of my brand.
In October 2013 I launched my first four polishes after 6 months of testing (and countless more of other tests and research).
The Indie Polish scene in the UK was sparse when I started but I already wanted to create a high calibre product. By the Christmas of that year (three months) I had been voted as having released two of the best polishes in the UK indie Awards (for Peace is Free and Fantine) and was overall awarded second place for best brand. For only being open three months this made me incredibly proud!
I only had a small capital when I started Quirk so was unable to create large amount of polish however I always sold out very fast which I hope meant my polishes very quite popular.
The UK indie scene flourished quickly, I helped admin a group of UK polish makers and really supported other makers. I held lots of giveaways that encouraged the makers to take part and expand their following (like my Support small business giveaway and the Digit-al Dozen Giveaway). In all everyone was quite supportive of each other.
After having moderate success with Quirk I took the big step to put Quirk on hiatus. As I said before Quirk was my business, I was now self employed. Due the quality of my ingredients and the time that went into creating a high quality product I was actually selling at a small loss. Therefore I took the big step to sell most of my personal polish / makeup stash to triple my initial investment into Quirk.
I bought all my ingredients and started production again. One day in June just before I started mixing polish I logged onto my laptop as normal (to check for Custom orders) and I found a message from Trading Standards saying that my handmade polish did not meet EU regulations, because they were not tested in a lab, and I must stop production immediately.
So I had to stop, to this day I still have many bottles of stock I cannot sell. Hundreds of pounds of supplies I haven't been able to sell and loads of bottles of glitter / pigments / polish in different phases of testing.
A few other Indie polish makers in the UK shared my concerns over this and decided to stop selling although many continued after me at their own risk.
No one else has been contacted by Trading Standards either before or after me. This includes UK indies that have sold vastly more bottles of polish in my 8 months of selling, EU based Indie makers and UK/ EU stockists of Indie polish.
I have been in constant communication with Trading Standards since then as I am working on the legalities of selling my product and the logistics of getting the appropriate tests done. My base is tested and passes EU regulations and so does my glitter but when mixed together they need to be re-tested in a lab, something that I will never be able to afford.
At the time of my original blog post I thought I had been unlucky that I had been found out, however since then Trading Standards have VERIFIED that they recieved a notice from a 'member of the public' asking if my product was in a legal position to be sold. The only person that would know this would be a member of the polish community.
I really urge you to read Kerrie's own blog post. I've been with her every step of the way on this journey, and it leaves a really unpleasant taste in my mouth. Either someone was jealous of her success, or they did it to be mean.
The only people buying Quirk were nail polish lovers in the nail polish community. It wasn't big enough to be bought by the general public. Additionally, the tone of the letter of complaint to the Trading Standards is not one of a concerned, uneducated customer; it reeks of set-up.
So why tell this story? Well for one, it's changed Kerrie's life, and not in a good way. Secondly, it's robbed her of her love of blogging, and her desire to be creative. But it's also a cautionary tale of bullying, and how this community, despite being generally awesome, has some dark little corners.
Kerrie and I both know who did this. Unfortunately we'll never be able to prove it, and I think it's a very sad reflection that we live in a world where so much can be lost just by one person's mean streak.
This story has defined Kerrie's year, and changed the UK indie scene. Hopefully, that gave someone a lot of pleasure.