Up Close & Personal with Cynthia Decker of Alter Ego

Cynthia Decker
Madison, WI

If you could be from anywhere, where would it be and why?
This is something I've never thought about!  Lots of places I would like to visit but I am happy being an American.  Sometimes I wish I had been born in another era but I can never decide on which one, either.  They all sound romantic and fun but I do think life was a lot harder in earlier times, too, so I am grateful to be living exactly in this time frame 🙂

What 2 things would you rate 10/10?

Living with all the freedoms that America gives us and the ability to speak/function for myself!

What could you give a 49 minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Nail Polish, of course.  I also have done ez quilt making and was certified by a not-for-profit organization MANY years ago to teach ceramics.  The organization is no longer in business so all I have is a card that says I am certified by them.  It was an intense 10 day course that was spilt into 2 5 day seminars held 3 months apart.  I also have 5 different food safety & handling certifications, 1 from DC, 1 from IL and 3 from WI.  As disgusting as they are cockroaches are fascinating insects LOL! 

Favorite food?
I have never met a cheese pizza, cheeseburger or specifically a chocolate covered donut that I didn't at least like!  Some are better than others but I get a taste for them all at one time or another.  I do like my own tomato sauce with any shape/style pasta but am quite fussy about others.  I like a good mayo based pasta salad and potato salad but am a bit fussy about those too. 

Describe yourself in 5 words
Quiet, observant, caring, thoughtful and my back issues make me sedate.

What are your top 3 favorite things to do? (Outside of making polish and filling orders…lol)
I do crossword puzzles, not the ez kind.  I may have to cheat a little to complete the puzzle but I prefer having to think about it and learning new things from them than just filling them out in 10 minutes.  I do enjoy traveling but that takes money so I don't get to do that as often as I would like.  I used to enjoy reading but I haven't done that in awhile-I get so wrapped in the story that I can't put it down and am up all night until I finish the book!  Can't do that with the FT job I have! I also enjoy ez crocheting but that is another thing I can't put down when I start something LOL! 

When and why did you decide to start a nail polish line?
I am WAY older than most in this industry, 62 this year.  I have been "doing mah nails" since I started high school in '69!  I consider nail polish my make-up.  My nails have always been *knocks on wood* strong but I went thru a period where I was having trouble with them, so I thought to research on line what the issue was.  I stumbled across a blogger review and followed the trail of crumbs into the nail polish world 😊 This appeals to my creative "hat", I love colors and finishes.  Ceramics are heavy and can be quite costly and quilting is big and time consuming.  Nail polish is lightweight, compact and just 1 small bottle can be made, also with my bad back I can lift it without help.  The endless variety that can be created with a very small amount of supplies is phenomenal, so here I am!

What makes your brand different?
My opinion is there is a color and a finish for everyone.  I try to offer a variety of colors and do not release just the most popular colors.  If just 1 person in the universe likes that color then my job has been done 🙂

What is one thing you're willing to share that your customers would be surprised to know about you?
C'mon, a girl-even an old one like me-has to have some secrets LOL!

What advice/tips/best practices would you give someone wanting to start their own polish company?
Understand this no quick rich scheme.  Research, play around, find what you do best and own that 😊 Always have back-up suppliers, don't release anything you can't take pride in.  Above all, be respectful, understanding and kind to all!

Besides your own, what other brands do you own/wear?
My personal collex is small compared to others, about 400ish.  When I first followed the trail I found the international brands first and have a nice representation of those.  Then I found indies and these days, that is all I will purchase.  I have no fave or hate for any, they all are beautiful!  I keep all my collex on stands in a corner of the bedroom that doesn't get any sun, so not only myself but others can see and admire them 🙂

What is one of you favorite collections or polishes you created?
Like children of all species, I have no fave 😊 If I don't love it, I can't release it!

How did you come up with your company name and logo?
We all different personas, attitudes, mind sets towards life, actions we'd like to do and people/creatures we'd like to emulate and/or draw inner power from.  In other words, we all have Alter Egos 😊 When I registered my biz in the state of WI I wanted something ezily recognizable, did some searching and didn't see anything like I have now-the capitalized AE offset as you see it now.  I didn't see that Emerald & Ash has just released a new logo using their initials lower case and offset the other directions.  I saw them in Vegas shortly after we both made public our new logos, apologized profusely, and offered to change mine.  They were very kind, sweet and accepting, told me no, their was no reason for me to change mine, I am AE, they are ea, different and people would know the difference.  So that explains the logo itself.  I am spending some extra dollars for the specialized holographic vinyl that I use, I wanted mine to stand out and be ezily seen in the crowd.  If that vinyl could be printed on I would use it for the name and ingredient panel but I haven't found that particular vinyl in a printable version yet, still looking tho!

If you weren't in the indie polish business, what's another product you would have liked to create?
As I said earlier, I did do ceramics, had a small biz at that time and did the local craft shows.  The quilts I made and donated to my local Lioness fundraisers.  The only thing that appeals to me is writing short stories, that is a field that is even more crowded than than indie products!

Any spoilers that you care to share about future collections, products, etc?
I enjoy participating in the collab projects and for special causes.  I am testing a few new colors for the future but I can't promise anything, that is always fluid and ever changing as I find new colorants to work with.  The overall Body Care lines are also always in the testing phase.  I recently released the cuticle oil brush pens and hand sanitizer.  Soaps are a hard thing to market, only so many of those can be made at a time, people with sensitive skin are cautious, but with that I have found my signature formula using unrefined shea butter, babassu oil and kokum butter, this combination has proven to be mild, moisturizing and refreshing :)  I can use it on FACE if yous can believe that!  I haven't used soap on my face for years until this, all the mainstream brands are quite drying at least and make me break out at worst, but my own does not.   I am researching new scents for PUPPegos-they have Egos too!  I would love to find something for cats-some breeds like water and some have health issues that they need to be bathed-but research for cats is scant and what I have found is not sanctioned by any organization or medical authorities, so I have to be even more cautious with the kittens.  

In 10 words or less, what would be your brand slogan?
It was "Who were you, who are you, who will you be" Since some newer Egos are not named after functions I stopped using it.  I have nothing right now.

What do you love most about being an indie polish maker?
The creativity of it!  How one color can be completely transformed into another not in the same spectrum is fascinating!

What other brand (just 1) would you like to collaborate with?
I have deep respect for all makers, I would love to collab with them all!

Favorite nail art technique?
Another thing that I have no faves 😊 I enjoy seeing everyone's visions and what they come up with!

What is your greatest accomplishment to date with your brand?
That legally I just went from sole proprietor to LLC, and did it myself without having to pay another entity to accomplish that 😊 A bit confusing but I got it done!

What is one challenge you've faced in business and how did you overcome it?
Every time something presents itself as difficult, I accomplish that hurdle only to run across another that seems worse!  Some take time, others are a DUH moment but once solved I no longer regard as a challenge.

***Alter Ego***

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