Small-Batch Beauty: Montreal’s Trust Fund Beauty

In our new Small-Batch Beauty column, FLARE features the creative minds behind our favourite new Canadian brands

For our debut column, we dialled up Samara Granofsky, the 30-year-old founder of Trust Fund Beauty, an irreverent line of “5-free” nail lacquers (no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene or camphor). True to Granofsky’s upper-crust theme, the shades come with names like “Prenup,” “I’m Kind of a Big Deal” and “Do You Know Who My Father Is?”—but it’s all done with tongue firmly in cheek.

The obvious question: Are you a “trust fund” kid yourself?
I am, but only in name, not in attitude. This brand is my alter ego…kind of!

Do you have a prior background in the beauty industry?
Does being a compulsive shopper/product hoarder count? In the past, I’ve worked in politics and I’ve been a fundraiser for a hospital. Trust Fund Beauty is now my only job, as I’ve been working round the clock since I launched.

You describe yourself as a polish addict. How many bottles do you own?
Before I launched, I had too many to count! They were scattered all over my house, but now I only wear TFB, not just because it’s my brand, but the quality is so much better than the other polishes I’ve had, plus it’s non-toxic. I now have over 50 different colours in my office, bedroom, bathroom, etc.

What’s your favourite mani/pedi place in Montreal?
I’d have to go with M Salon in Griffintown. They’re great and professional. I love it there!

What inspired you to start a nail polish line?
Other than being polish-obsessed, my mother inspired me. When she was going through chemo, she was looking for a non-toxic brand with an edge but couldn’t find one. Years later, I put my addiction, her desire and our shared sense of humour together to create TFB.

Tell me about how you got your beauty brand off the ground. How long did you work on the idea? Did anyone “mentor” you? Who designed the packaging?
The idea started 10 years ago when my mother was sick, but I never really thought I could do it. About a year ago, I decided to screw my self-doubt and take the leap. So it’s been a year of brainstorming, colour picking, image creation, naming and copywriting. I have a lot of contacts in different areas of business through my family and past careers, so I picked everyone’s brains. The concepts and packaging are all my ideas. I was very lucky to find two graphic designers who could take my crazy and put it to paper. As far as mentors go, I have a couple of really good friends who have helped me in many ways.

What was the most challenging thing about creating your own beauty biz?
Starting everything from scratch and not knowing what I was doing! What kept me from starting this earlier were my own insecurities, so I had to just shove them away and say, ‘I’m doing what I want, how I want.’ Seriously though, breaking into the market was and remains a challenge.

What inspires your palette? What’s your own go-to shade and why?
My colour palette was chosen based on European and North American fashion trends. There are also some colours I’ve added based on my love of drag queens and their fun, in-your-face attitudes. I have some polishes that are holographic, temperature-changing and matte, so as to satisfy everyone and whatever mood they are feeling. Personally, what I wear is sort of all over the place. One day I may like a nude; another day I may go dark. Right now I’m really loving “Money Buys Happiness,” a pale pink, for the spring.

The names of your lacquers reveal your sense of humour—how do you come up with them?
Some people may find me brash and offensive, but I just think I’m funny. You need to find some humour in everything; otherwise life can get too serious and boring. I also grew up in boarding schools, so some of these names come from what I saw and heard throughout those years.

What’s your elevator pitch?
Everyone who has seen or tried TFB falls absolutely in love! The polishes are non-toxic, vegan and not tested on animals. What makes us unique is that every colour comes with its own personal sassy description. [our fave: “Saving is for Jesus. Spending is much more fun.”] We are a lifestyle in a bottle.

Trust Fund Beauty Le Vernis, $15 each