Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Madeline Zinn

butter LONDON, a nail care company based out of Seattle, is determined to “reshape” the nail industry by providing, natural polishes, cremes and other nail treatment completely free from formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP.

These days everyone is concerned with labels. Not Prada or Marc Jacobs, like hormone-free, organic, and natural. Products like soy shampoos, free-range chicken and eggs, fair-trade coffee, chemical-free and animal friendly products, and clothing made by adults in the U.S. rather than five year olds in foreign sweatshops are available on the market. But when it comes to our nails, we seem perfectly content to put carcinogens (albeit FDA approved ones) into our bodies, with nary a thought as to what effects they may have.

One company, however, is determined to “reshape” the nail industry, and provide safe, chemical-free products, made all the more glamorous and alluring because they are toxin-free.

Based out of Seattle, butter LONDON was founded in 2005 by CEO Sasha Muir after she felt dissatisfied with the options available in regard to nail services. She found small salons were want for adequate hygiene and selection, while larger spas required advanced planning and tended to be too expensive and time consuming. With the development of butter LONDON, Muir said she sought to “bridge the gap between high and low end nail salons,” and offer products and services that were not only affordable and hygienic, but also chic and non-toxic.

To accomplish this, Muir brought Nonie Crème on as Creative Director. With a degree in Art History and Fine Art from Scripps College in California, and an impressive resume as a manicurist in London with clients that included Kate Moss and Jimmy Choo, Crème brought her knowledge of the business as well as her artistic sensibility to the position. Together the two have created a company poised to push the nail service industry in a new, positive direction.

butter LONDON, true to its name, is steadfastly British. Crème cites the company’s core values as “rock and roll, Great Britain, and fashion”. Crème said she returns to these values for inspiration when developing a collection. Though she never did become a curator, Crème believes she uses her art and art history education daily. She said it influences the way she views items in the company including color, shape, product packaging, store interiors, and the employee uniforms.

The butter LONDON Web site contains a dictionary: a catalogue of names and descriptions of each of the company’s colors. They are thoroughly British, and entirely entertaining. The lacquers names are decidedly tongue in cheek, and include such gems as Tramp Stamp, MacBeth, Nothing Hill and Prince’s Plums. If you don’t get the references, they’ve got definitions for each. One color, named Hoorah Henri is defined as “A posh young man, usually loud-spoken, narcissistic, and terribly, terribly English.”

Despite its base in Seattle, butter LONDON is in no hurry to branch out and create a collection in homage to the city (Caramel Frappuccino lacquer, anyone?). The company sees London as an important part of its brand. Crème said she would “hate to dilute that” by breaking off into other avenues- literally (Portobello Pink is London. Rodeo Drive? Not so much).

The butter LONDON company is a 3 Free company, meaning its product lines are completely free from formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP. The previous ingredients have been linked to a variety of health issues including headaches, eye, ear, nose and throat irritation, nervous system disorders and damage to the liver and kidneys. butter LONDONpolishes are also completely non-toxic and entirely waterless.

Crème said she believes thatbutter LONDON has a responsibility to their clients, staff, and themselves to “build a company that values ethics.”

“How can we knowingly expose people to harmful chemicals?” she said. “And for what? To save a few pennies? I don’t think so.”

butter LONDON is committed to its brand, its clients, and its employees. It is important to the company that its team of nail specialists thrives in a career that treats them with respect and allows for growth in the industry- an industry that, if butter LONDON has any say, will “bring nails and nail products to the forefront of the beauty world”. What’s next for the company?

Crème and Muir hope to expand and bring more affordable, efficient butter LONDON spa kiosks to airports, malls, and office buildings throughout the country and world. In fact, Crème said she would like to see the brand become a household name. butter LONDON is also working on a pedicure range, which Crème said she has been obsessing with.

“It is a phenomenal lineup of products that make feet officially sexy,” she said. “The packaging is so beautiful, and the scents are gorgeous. This collection really takes the “EWWW” out of foot care”.

With a wonderful line of products and services, glowing reviews from publications throughout the country, work with magazines and ad campaigns and its own area backstage at the European MTV awards, butter LONDON is poised to accomplish exactly what it’s set out to do. The company has succeeded in creating a glamorous, affordable brand that isn’t just charmingly chic, but is also eco-conscious.

In a word, butter LONDON is luxury- done very right and with clients’ health and budget in mind.

butter LONDON sells their products and has a list of services on their Web site. The company has several salons in U.S. airports, including the Sacramento International Airport in Terminal A, the Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Concourse C and a brand-spankin’ new location at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC., Concourse B. There are also several butter LONDON stores in the Seattle area.

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