Sunday, April 16, 2017

TKB Colors: our ready-to-wear products

Recently, we announced on our site that we had some finished matte liquid lipsticks "coming soon" for sale on our site.

I wanted to briefly explain to our long-time customers what this is all about.

For decades, TKB has focused its efforts on supplying raw materials and offering support to indie businesses.  We started with the soapmakers and quickly added a variety of indie crafters, with a large portion of our customers being makers of indie cosmetics.

Over the years I have often been encouraged by my staff to make "our own line" of products and sell them on our site.  I have typically declined, explaining that being a supplier and supporter of businesses is entirely different than being a seller of a finished product.  The two models require a whole different set of skills, tasks and processes.  Also, I was a little concerned that my customers might feel I was in competition with them.

As my staff has grown, however, I also recognize that their interest in my company also encompasses how one makes a finished product.  They really want to get their hands dirty.  I also recognize that until we were making things in our lab, we were not going to be very good at providing meaningful support to our customers.

So, last year I relented and we set up a small lab for making stuff and brought in a makeup artist and chemistry student to start us out.  We work on projects part time, and not everything we do turns into a finished product.  Much of what we are working on involves trying to answer customer questions or find better raw materials.

One of the fruits of last year was a small line of finished nail polish colors.  We showcase them in our TKB Exclusives tab of our new website.  It has been fun to be able to offer customers samples of a finished product which we make, and also to see our logo on a finished line.  Do we sell a lot?  No. We're OK with that.

This year, we worked on answering the questions we get about making a matte liquid lipstick.  As a team, we learned a lot about making this product, and ultimately we now offer our customers step-by-step videos and instructions.

We also decided to launch about 10 colors of our own in a finished format.  The colors were developed by Sam Tang (with input by others, including the infamous Kat Luu of Customer Service). Sam has been with our company for about 5 years and she does all the photography for our new website.  She is also a big fan of cosmetics and really wanted to try her hand at a line of lipstick colors.

As before, we expect to price the product at the high end of the spectrum and we don't expect to sell a lot.

I hope that our customers will see that TKB's selling of TKB Colors is not a form of competition or dilution of what they do but an attempt by us to be better and more fully engaged suppliers of raw materials to the indie cosmetics industry.

We hope to offer more projects (and raw materials, formulations and tutorials) as the year unfolds.

Kaila Westerman

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5 Tips to Unforgettable Wedding Day Nails

When I was 8 years old and dressing up for my imagined day, I painted my nails with white out and colored them in with permanent markers only to end up desperately scrubbing the ink and paint off before my parents found out. Was your first experience with painted nails the same?

My name is Kimberly Simon and I am the resident makeup artist and product designer here at TKB!  I’m so excited to announce one of our first projects: the sponsorship of a DIY Nail Polish Bar at David Tutera’s April 17thYour Wedding Experience” in Houston, Texas!  At the event, attendees will dabble in the adventure of mixing their own wedding day nail polish. 

For the show, I created 12 unique recipes.  From the fairy tale inspired “Cinderella” blue to a rosy “Blushing Bride”, my favorite is a glittery, white polish recipe named “Bridal Party”.  I created these recipes based on this year’s wedding color trends!

Making a custom polish for your wedding is fun and affordable. The hardest part is picking the color itself!  Here are my 5 tips for choosing the perfect nail polish color for your wedding day:

1.    Try on polish weeks, even months ahead of the big day. 

Consider how each color makes you feel and what kind of attitude it stirs in you.  For example, the color red promotes a classic and sexy tone.  Nude colors represent the more traditional bride.  Pastel colors are incredibly trendy for weddings in 2016, but remember the rule is: There Are No Rules!

2.    Never skip the base coat and top coat.

If long-lasting gel manicures aren’t your style, invest in the most high-performance base and top coat for your wedding day.  Different top coat formulas may slightly alter the color you’re wearing.  Choose wisely!

3.    Consider your wedding accessories.

Unless you’re dressing in anything but white, your nails, makeup and bouquet will be the colors of the show!  Consider how your manicure will pair with your flower arrangement and makeup details.  This trio will make an impression in most of your wedding day photos, so make sure they all get along!

4.    Trust your intuition.

It can be easy to doubt your choices and rely on others for wedding planning advice.  When it comes to your nail color, the only person who will be wearing it is you! Your perfect nail polish color is an enjoyable, rewarding, personal experience.  Don’t let it be anything else.

5.    Be prepared.

If you’re attending David Tutera’s Your Wedding Experience, why not bring photos of your dress?  A binder full of all your wedding theme ideas will be incredibly useful as you gather many more inspirational options at the event, especially at the DIY nail bar.

For more pre-show wedding ideas, be sure to check out our nail polish bar hostess Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez and her beautiful wedding blog-

We are looking forward to seeing all the colors you create- don’t forget to show us your handcrafted nail polish from the show by tagging us #TKBColors on Instagram

TKB Colors Makeup Artist

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Working with Bulk Nail Polish

It is shockingly easy and affordable to work with uncolored, bulk nail polish base to make your own unique creations.

Our company started selling the material in early 2011.  I had noticed that there customers were talking about making "Frankenpolish" where they would blend together polishes from different manufacturers -- a half a bottle of an Essie green, a quarter bottle of an OPI gold, and top it off with some Sally Hansen!

They were having such a blast but my immediate thought was:  Gee that looks expensive.  They should be working with the uncolored base and add our mica powders to it.  So, we made that happen.

As with any DIY craft, it can be hard to scale up from making a few fun polishes with friends to actually running a business.  Among the many problems, concerns and tasks that crop up is coming to see yourself as a manufacturer.  That means understanding that you are working with a material which will have variations "batch to batch" and learning ways to work with that.

The main issues that come up for Indie polish companies, as far as I can tell:

  1. Ingredients List 
  2. Mixing in colors (clumping or streaking) of colors
  3. Viscosity of the base
  4. Reaction of additives
  5. Photography
  6. Labeling
  7. Shelf life
I will be happy to address these various issues in future blog posts.  Feel free to leave feedback letting me know any specific questions or concerns you might have and I will do my best to give you complete answers.

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Pick a Winner for our Halloween Costume Contest?

Halloween came and went. While the cat was away the mice played as, apparently, there was a contest to see who could come up with the most creative "recycled costume" while I was out running errands.  It was hard to choose the winner as everyone was so creative!

In the meantime, I continue to work on improving our new website.  I managed to make some minor improvements, but each of these areas still need work:

  1. Better Search.  The Search Box that came with the website was pretty funky.  If you were looking for something called Blues and you typed in Blue, it would not come up.  It was super specific.

    We have created a much better Search function.  It looks "simple" up there at the top of the page, but once you start searching you will quickly be in awe of its power!  (or at least appreciate it a little more).  You will be able to better narrow your search by thing such as color and use, as well as price.
  2. Shipping of Nail Polish by Fedex Only.  We had a problem with people buying nail polish and then choosing US Mail as a shipping option.  Unfortunately, while we are aware that plenty of resellers of nail polish use USPS for shipping, this is not permitted by the post office and so we will not do it.

    The minor improvement we made was to add a clarification on any product page that contains nail polish.  Yet to be done is setting up the shipping program to not even allow USPS mail as an option.
  3. Knowledge Base and Chat Box.  We added a pop-out Knowledge Base and Chat Box to our site.  Live Chat is only available on days/times when we are caught up with our work, but at least it will be an option sometimes.  The Knowledge Base is something we have been building for a while and should help answer some of the more common questions we get.
 Well, as with everything in a small company, things take time.  We continue to be every appreciative of your feedback and wish you all a great holiday season!  In the meantime, care to pick a winner?
L to R: Kieu (liquids lady), Sam (shipping clerk), Van (containers lady), Hanna (floor manager) and Vi (accounting).

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

 Submit a Ticket

Thanks to those taking time to report goods, bads and uglies on our new website.  Keep 'em coming! We need your feedback!

Today we added the WISHLIST function.  It's like pretty much any other wishlist you see on the net, but you do need to be logged in with an account in order to use it.

Speaking of Logging In . . . many customers on our old site are confused about how to move over to the new site because their existing login info doesn't work.  Unfortunately, because our old site is so old, we are not able to download customer lists and then upload them over to the new site ... or at least we haven't figured out how to do that yet.  So, YES, you will need to create a new account at the new site.  Good news is we will keep your old data on file so we can look it up for you in case you need it.

We also added two new payment methods:  Amazon and Google Wallet.

We are still trying to figure out a solution to get the Search function to work in an intelligent way.  As it is, if you type in "Vegan", it will pull up anything with the word Vegan in the description, including the phrase "Not Vegan".  So, basically it is useless.  We'll find a work around eventually, though.

Oh, we did make our Knowledge Base a little easier to find and search through.  It is in the popout on the right hand side of the site.

Thanks for your continued support.

Kaila Westerman

p.s., forgot to mention we are now gearing up to start adding new things to our product line, so feel free to drop us a line with your requests!  We are really looking forward to getting our hands dirty with you again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Birthin' our New Baby 5.0!

TKB was founded in December 1997.  Over the years, we have had plenty of .... simple-looking.... web designs.

What we lacked in flash and sizzle, we made up for in prices, heart and innovation.  Time has caught up with us though and we really needed to become "mobile friendly".  For this reason we are now launching our new version of "us".  It's a lot prettier!

Here are some functional issues and differences between old and new site that customers have asked us to explain.  We will post more answers to questions as they arise!

Q: Why the change?  A:  We have to be mobile-friendly for our customers.  Our new site will have other awesome functions, but the mobile-friendly was the main issue.

Q:  Is my order history going to come over to the new site?  A:  Sadly, no.  The old site was so old fashioned it did not integrate with any of the new site options we had.  We have, however, kept our old site information active so if you require us to look anything up for you, reprint orders or do any similar research, we are happy to help you.

Q: Are all the products and prices the same?  A:  For the most part, yes.  We have added some new products to the new site and will continue to add at that location. We have also changed how we sell our plastic jars and made some adjustments on prices as a result.  If you see something that confuses you or seems off, or that you simply don't like, please let us know!

Q:  Is shipping the same?  A: Yes, it should be.  Eventually we hope to implement something which will allow the international customers easier checkout without going through a "quote" process.

Q: Did you change your company name to  A:  No.  As tried and true DIYer's we are pretty much making the transition to the new website on our own.  This means a lot of learning curves to navigate.  To make the process a little more tentative we have temporarily had "two" versions of our company.  One at and the other at  However very soon both addresses will point to the exact same site.  So you can type in either address.

Q:  Is the change of a website the first step in some kind of overall plan to change what TKB does, what it sells or who its customer base is?  A:  No. We don't normally have overall plans anyway, usually we stick to mood swings. Of course, we do hope, once the dust settles on the launch we can turn our attention away from website development for a while and back into sourcing new recipes, ideas, products and such.

Anyway, it has been a looonnnggg process to get this baby birthed.  I'll try to blog about the important things I learned, in case they are helpful to those out there, but in the meantime, hold on to your seats.  TKBTrading 5.0 launching soon!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Lovelies

My Colors are So Lovely

In April, I vended at the Handmade Soap and Cosmetics Guild (HSCG) annual trade show in Indiana.

I introduced My Lovelies, a new line of hue-intense pigments perfect for soapmakers.

I offered them in both powder and liquid forms.  The powders are best for the Cold Process soapmakers, and the liquids are popular with the Melt and Pour Soapmakers.   All the colors are soap-stable, strongly-hued and non-bleeding.

Equally important (to me), I make them!  Did you ever make something so lovely and beautiful you had to keep running back to look at it, even in the middle of the night?  That's how I feel about My Lovely Perfect Blue.  In cold process soap, it just glows.

My Perfect Blue

The colors also blend very easily into nail polish.  While the colors are not all approved for use in cosmetics in the USA, I'm not a hater of using in them nail polish.  I'm usually pretty high on my horse when it comes to telling people to follow FDA guidelines.  However, I recognize that nail polish itself is not particularly natural or "safe" and that most indie nail polish makers would really rather be left to make their own decisions.  The things they put in their polish!  I've come to accept that my job is to simply label the products correctly and leave the decision on use to the maker.

Since the April show I haven't had a chance to really promote My Lovelies, but I'm trying to make up for that now!  On our website, keep your eyes peeled for:

Blue Ribbon, Electric Violet, Vivid Tangerine, Rouge Red, Summer Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Perfect Blue, Hot Pink, & Turquoise Blue.