Jessica Bellinger, the founder of non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free nail polish company Bess & Color, is no stranger to the concept of hard work. Before starting Bess & Color, Jessica’s main gig was wedding photography, a business she still runs. And, before she discovered her love of photography, Jessica was a stay-at-home mom to three young boys (her youngest is five-years-old, her oldest is 6-years-old, and her stepson is nine-years-old). Needless to say, when Jessica was inspired by a cute targeted nail polish ad to start her own unique nail polish business, the feat wasn’t too big of a stretch for her.

The Melbourne, Florida native admits that she wasn’t always super into painting her nails. “I always associated nail polish with being kind of really bright and neon … and that just wasn’t me,” she says, mentioning she’s very into earthy tones in contrast. However, when Jessica saw the targeted ad, it made her want to buy the polish, even though she didn’t paint her nails often. Which, haven’t we all had that I-don’t-need-you-but-I-want-you moment? The difference is, Jessica appreciated the product and the vision, wished there were more companies like one in the nail polish ad, and thus decided to create one. Talk about motivation.

When planning the polish for Bess & Color, it wasn’t so much a question of ‘Why vegan?’ as much as it was ‘Why not vegan?’. Jessica explains that she doesn’t know, “why there should be animal products in beauty products,” and that she doesn’t think it’s a necessity. “Maybe the only reason people do it is to cut costs.” On top of being vegan, Bess & Color polishes are also cruelty-free, paraben-free, made in the U.S., and 10-Free. 10-Free nail polishes are free from the 10 most toxic ingredients commonly found in nail polishes: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, parabens, animal by-products, and fragrance.

For anyone who loves a good color scheme, scrolling through Bess & Color’s collection will definitely feel like a mini spa day. The brand’s aesthetically-pleasing Instagram also has many innovative examples as to how you can have even more fun with their polishes, whether it’s incorporating gems or creating tricolored swirly designs. Jessica—whose nail art and beautiful photography is often featured—says that she paints snap-on nails with designs, lets them dry overnight, and snaps them on the next day. (P.S. If any of the nail polish shades or names remind you of a certain collection of indie movies, it may be because Bess & Color’s color palettes are inspired by Wes Anderson films!)

Jessica’s current go-to clean beauty products are Native Deodorant and coconut oil. She advises that when searching for clean beauty products, shoppers should educate themselves on ingredients. She says that she wouldn’t always immediately trust something labeled ‘clean’ at a store without first checking the product’s website, learning about the brand, and reading reviews. Jessica also recommends finding a resource you trust with good information that is knowledgeable on clean and cruelty-free beauty. 

While Jessica thinks clean beauty may not ever rule the world, she believes it will probably rule the majority of people because, “especially with the way that we’re going, it’s almost becoming a standard.” She follows up with, “I think the U.S. and Europe are doing a really good job at trying as hard as we can. [Clean and ethical beauty are] really becoming mainstream in both places, and we basically lead mainstream media around the world, so it will tackle other countries and become a thing.” 

Here’s to hoping clean and ethical beauty become the new normal! If you’d like to do your part (and get a fantastic manicure out of it), head on over to Bess & Color. The Yellow Tent is the perfect bright hue for the season, inspired by the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums.