The French entrepreneur behind your new favourite nail polish
Marine Crouzet is driving nailmatic’s expansion to North America.
In the two years since nailmatic expanded to North America, the French nail polish company has already made waves in the American beauty industry. Known for its non-toxic, cruelty-free polishes, the company boasts partners like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and J.Crew and earned features in Refinery29 and W Magazine. The driving force behind this success is Marine Crouzet, nailmatic’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director for North America.
What Marine loves best about the startup is “they never stop having brilliant ideas.” Founded in 2012, nailmatic is committed to natural products and corporate social responsibility. They make the solvent in their polish from organic plants and all of their packaging is recyclable. nailmatic maintains a low carbon footprint by keeping production within a 200 kilometre area of France. Marine’s favourite nailmatic colours include Dita (a bold red), Gala (a shimmering gold) and Grace (a deep red).
Marine is particularly passionate about nailmatic’s line of gender-neutral nail polish for kids that rinses off with just soap and water, no toxic nail polish remover needed. She loves seeing customers share photos of mothers and fathers enjoying nailmatic polishes with their kids: “That whole bonding time where suddenly it doesn’t matter what sex you are is really cool.” By selling a line for both girls and boys, Marine hopes that families will start to see nail polish as a form of expression for both genders and have conversations about toxic masculinity and the importance of acceptance.
The next innovation from nailmatic’s labs is the company’s new DIY nail polish kits that allow consumers to customise their own nail polish colours. The kits come with liquid pigments, mixing bases, pipettes and labels so you can create your unique colour from start to finish. Marine shares that the kits are designed to foster creativity and individuality, making them the perfect activity for birthday parties, sleepovers and bridal showers.
Expanding nailmatic across North America involves a lot of meetings and a lot of travel. Marine meets with retailers, department stores and distributors to discuss potential partnerships and how to get nailmatic on their shelves. At trade shows around the U.S., Marine educates retailers on the importance of toxic-free polishes, a growing trend in the industry. Thanks to Marine’s hard work, nailmatic products are now sold at Barneys, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Papyrus and Maisonette.
Before joining the nailmatic team, Marine spent several years helping other French companies expand their businesses internationally. Her love of business development and strategy began in an unlikely place: an air filtration company in suburban Philadelphia. As a student in business school, Marine interned at a company that manufactures air purifying equipment. It wasn’t the most typical university experience, but the internship helped Marine to discover something important about herself. “I realized that [developing a business] was something I was really interested in,” she shares. “Not so much the research on asbestos, but I really liked the fact that I was trying to figure out a strategy to implement in the business somewhere.”
From there, Marine worked at Business France, a government entity that helps French companies expand internationally. Marine advised beauty, décor and fashion companies on how to adapt to the North American market and make connections overseas. Taking the skills she learned in this role, Marine founded her own company, Convergent Concept, that helped European companies with international development. Her first client was nailmatic. After Marine consulted with them for three years, nailmatic eventually persuaded her to join full time and lead their growth into North America.
While nailmatic is growing rapidly in the new market, Marine acknowledges that striking out on this venture definitely comes with its challenges. She gets support from her bosses in France, but as head of the North American office, she must often figure out business challenges herself. “You have to be OK with yourself and you have to be OK with trusting your decisions no matter what,” she says of the experience. “Some of them are good, some of them not.”
Marine also deals with people underestimating her because of her age or gender. “Even in my position today, the number of times that I get a comment because I’m a woman or because I’m young and that I shouldn’t be here is kind of shocking,” she laments. It’s common for her to be called darling, lovely or girl at business meetings: “I don’t think you would say those to a man, no matter how young he is.”
“I think a lot of people feel threatened by the fact you can be young and successful,” Marine shares. But as an entrepreneur leading one of the beauty industry’s most exciting new brands, Marine doesn’t have time to let it phase her — she’s too busy thinking ahead to the next client, the next idea and the next challenge.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tess Thomas is editor of Assembly, a digital publication and newsletter from Malala Fund. She loves books, cats and french fries.