Nexus Cook is a self described “nail polish junkie.” Six years ago she was feeling bored with the giant collection of colors she’d stockpiled and decided to mix up something of her own.
“I actually tried to make my own concoction of stuff,” Cook says. “I did some research, and
I went to an art store and got a bunch of pigments and oils, but it was a disaster.”
She came up with some great colors, but the texture wasn’t quite right. The experiment didn’t work, but she was inspired. She’d noticed that besides the major cosmetics brands there weren’t many other nail polish options on the market. She wanted to create an independent line of polishes with a new point of view. She sought professional help and tried again. “I found a chemist and distributor,” and Cook’s line, 25th and June, was born. The company that she works with is headquartered in Florida and California. “It’s all made in the U.S.,” she says.
The interesting name comes from her birthday, but she wanted it to sound like a location or a cross street.
Polish without Poison
“It’s all toxin free and vegan friendly, so it’s cruelty free,” Cook says. “That’s the most important thing about my products.”
Cook says that all her company’s polishes are “7 Free.” This means that they do not contain toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, camphor, xylene, or parabens, harmful chemicals often found in nail polish formulations. “There’s no reason why that needs to be on any part of your skin,” Cook says. Yet these ingredients are still used by most major companies. “I bought all those big brands. After doing my research and just getting older I was more aware. I want women’s nails healthy. It’s at the front of my mind with everything that I do, even with brands that I partner with. It doesn’t take away from the product. You don’t need these things.”
Nail Polish Narratives
While running her company Cook still works her day job in advertising as a senior creator for McCann World Group. The skills that she’s built at work have helped her run 25th and June. “I understand the inner workings of how to market a product,” she says. She uses her writing background as well. “Every single polish has an actual story,” she says. “I think that people connect to that.”
The story behind Cook’s current spring line focuses on her most memorable travel experiences. Shades include Cinnamon Kiss, Paradise Found Me, Supreme Cream, and EastWest, a lavender hue that was inspired by Croatian nightlife.
The company’s summer options are bright colors from the Ego Trip collection. These shades include Royal Highness, Drama Queen, Very Expensive, Queen in the Courtyard, and Magical As F*ck, a bold, trendy yellow.
Polishes and Punches
On the horizon for 25th and June are many events and partnerships. Cook plans to collaborate with several artists and host popup shops in the New York area. She is also partnering with Reese Scott, founder and head coach of Women’s World of Boxing as well as Reebok’s brand ambassador. The pair ran a women’s empowerment event in the spring that combined self defense training and pampering beauty treatments that included Cook’s polishes.
Cook also plans to seek out Jersey City boutiques that would be a good fit to sell her products in their retail spaces. The brand is currently available online at 25thandjune.com.
“There are so many small businesses and women entrepreneurs in Jersey City,” Cook says. “I am slowly building a community.”
Her advice to budding small business owners who might be creating products in their Jersey City living rooms? “Whatever it is you’re trying to create, whatever you’re trying to do, you have to do something toward that every single day,” Cook says. “That one thing will spiral into a ton of different things.”
She also says that entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, have to learn to advocate for themselves. She used to rely on friends and family to talk about and promote 25th and June, but these days she’s as bold as her favorite nail polish shades.
Cook says, “Now I’m my own spokesperson.” –JCM