I Nailed It! I was featured in last month’s Nail It! Magazine and couldn’t be more excited. I am so thrilled to showcase my Pop of Color fall polish collection, all of which were named after my favorite restaurants in NYC! Get your copy of Nail It! today at Barnes and Noble or any of these locations !
Here is the article!
You may recognize her from Bravo’s hit reality franchise The Real Housewives”; she was the relatively drama free stunner on Seasons 6 and 7 of “The Real Housewives of New York City” (RHONY). Or, maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of her while thumbing through
your favorite magazines; she’s been steadily modeling for an impressive two decades. But now Kristen Taekman wants you to equate her name, face and nails with her newest ventures: her lacquer line Pop of Color by Kristen Taekman and her fashion and lifestyle blog Last Night’s Look (lastnightslook.com).
On the set of the Nail It! photo shoot, she’s candid, warm and-yes-100-percent
drama-free. Taekman gleaned this level of professionalism from years of modeling; she
got her start at 15 when she attended the John Casablancas Modeling & Acting Agency in Hartford, Connecticut, near her hometown of Farmington. By 16, the decision to truly make a go of it brought Taekman to New York City and the fast-paced world of modeling. During that time she witnessed the behind-the-scenes workings of the beauty and fashion industry that aptly prepared her for the development and branding of POC (as she affectionately calls her polish line). “When I first started modeling, I had to keep my nails short and wear natural pink polish,” she shares. For the next 20 years, the more she worked, the more she was forced to wear soft, natural-hue manicures-not bad for her bank account, but it kept Taekman in pigment purgatory. “I felt deprived of bold color!” she laughs. Such depravity pushed her to explore bolder colors when not on set-and such exploration became the whole modus operandi of the POC brand. In a roundabout way, modeling also taught Taekman to nurture her nails. “From the moment I started modeling, everyone told me that I had beautiful hands. So, I decided to meet with a parts agency-you know, the agencies that focus on body parts,” she says. Sitting down with agents and having her hands hyper-scrutinized left her momentarily scarred-but then the lightbulb went off. “After meeting with them and learning about the numerous ‘imperfections’ of my hands, I decided to concentrate instead on my long nail beds and skip the hand modeling. Nurtured, long nail beds are perfect for showcasing fun and fab polish,” she says.
REALITY SETS IN
Fast-forward to Taekman’s time on RHONY, where the birth of Pop of Color played out on TV screens. Behind the scenes, Ricky’s NYC, a chain of beauty stores, approached Taekman about working together. For her, nail polish sprang to mind immediately. “With nails, there’s endless possibilities,” she posits of her nobrainer decision. “I love that you can constantly change the design, shape and color of your nails.” On screen, Taekman enlisted the help of fellow RHONY cast member Carole Radziwill to name polish colors-after all, Radziwill is a published author with a quick wit. And Radziwill’s spicy monikers, like Slide and Thrust, dropped jaws (and made for good TV)-though Taekman noted that Thrust did, in fact, make the cut. “I ran a contest on my blog, and Thrust was the big winner,” she laughs. Other names in the line, such as City By Night, are rooted in Taekman’s reality-her everyday life of being a mom (to son Cassius and daughter Kingsley), wife and fashionista while navigating the streets of Manhattan. When it came to naming her beauty brand, however, there was no negotiation. “It’s the only [name] I ever had in mind,” she says. While taping RHONY, Taekman left behind the soft hues of her modeling days in favor of wearing daring color that “pops” on TV-whether on her lips or nails or as an accessory. Because reality fans have a voracious need to know what their favorite stars are wearing at any given moment, Taekman would blast her on-screen looks to her social media followers with the aptly named hashtag #POC-pop of color. “It was the first name that I thought of when naming the line . … I still can’t believe Pop of Color was available to trademark in the beauty category,” she says. Not surprisingly, vivid colors abound in the line. Hands Off, a rich teal, Bluemoon, a bold cobalt, and Eboost Orange, a supercharged tangerine, all play to the “pop of color” ideal. Even the more subtle hues, like periwinkle Second to None and gray Pajamas, pack a pigmented punch. Neutrals and classics (“go-to colors,” according to Taekman) round out the line. While choosing the name and concept of the line came naturally, navigating through the process of creating a polish line from start to finish didn’t come quite as easily. Therefore, Taekman turned to her longtime manicurist Pattie Yankee to offer some insight. “Pattie has helped me since Day One. She was integral when it came to picking the right polish formula, size of brush and the applicators,” Taekman shares. (See “What’s All the Pop About?” for more intel on the line on page 47.) And in an industry where egos can make or break a brand, Taekman stays refreshingly open to advice-“lt’s great to get an outside perspective”-and has looked to her husband Josh as her ultimate business advisor (he cofounded EBOOST Natural Energy Drinks). “It’s nice to have a partner who is not only supportive, but also knowledgeable,” she laughs.
Like any smart blogger, Taekman documents all of Pop of Color’s progress (including the introduction of a line of matte lip colors and Pop of Color’s presence at New York Fashion Week) on Last Night’s Look. “I started the blog while filming RHONY. The first few posts were based on what I wore on the show, but then it morphed into a mommy, fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel blog,” she says. Posts following her adventures with her kids (think: movie nights at home) and her travels (South Beach, Puerto Rico and Dubai are just a few locales) show a woman whose fashion reflects a mix of her conservative Connecticut roots and her downtown New York City life. “I like to describe my style as Jackie Kennedy meets Carrie Bradshaw,” she says. But unlike other big-name biogs, Last Night’s Look focuses on attainable rather than aspirational-fashion and beauty. Over-blurred filters are banished; affordable brands abound (ASOS and H&M are faves); and the tone is like talking to your best girlfriend who just so happens to have 20 years of beauty and fashion experience tucked under her belt-but she’s still so down to earth. For Taekman, she’s just being herself, sharing what she would wear and do in real day-to-day life. Being relatable is important, and in some ways that boils down to giving the reader access to items and a lifestyle she can actually own. “Fashion should be attainable. I definitely believe there are certain staple items that are worth investing in-like a great pair of boots or a versatile handbag that will last for years,” she explains. “But, that being said, there are so many trendy items that are reasonably priced.” Synergistically, Pop of Color and Last Night’s Look service each other well. Taekman works her beauty brand into most posts without overselling it. For example, focused shots of her hands brandishing a Pop of Color hue are simply a piece of the overall story. There’s an authenticity to it; nothing feels forced-and that’s likely due to Taekman’s modest attitude about it all. To wit: She uses the word “lucky” a lot when describing her start in the beauty and blogging biz-though it should be noted that she puts an ample amount of work in at every level to make each project a success. (One glance at her “bible,” a binder of meticulous notes of each outfit she dons for the blog, and you know she means serious business.) “I feel so lucky to have started a business in the era of social media. It’s been an amazing platform to build [brand] awareness and showcase my products,” Taekman relays, adding, “But when people take social media too seriously or too personally, I think it’s time to cut the cord. Social media should be fun, witty and a true showcase of your personality!” Exactly the drama-free perspective you’d expect from this rising star.
If only creating a polish line came down to selecting colors and naming them. As Taekman learned, the path to a high-performance polish is much more than on-trend pigments and splashy monikers. “The difficult part comes into play when you start sampling formulas,” she says. “And I never realized how much goes into choosing a nail polish bottle. There’s a lot of back and forth when looking at the size of the bottle, cap, color, shape, the brush-so many factors to consider!” Taekman tapped nail tech Pattie Yankee for insight on what a professional would look for-and what the end user would ultimately rave about. The resulting formula is 5-free, as well as gluten-, paraben- and cruelty-free, but the color isn’t sacrificed; it’s pigmented enough to provide full-coverage in one coat, though two is recommended. The brush contains 220 bristles that fan to allow three even strokes. Twelve colors launched in the spring of 2015; six additional shades inspired by Taekman’s love of Elvis Presley debuted a year later. Now, Taekman is rolling out another six hues, including lime Sessanta, pink Little Park and deep marine Lure. “The fall collection is based off of my favorite NYC restaurants that I frequent in Tribeca and SoHo,” she says.