For KC Springberg, applying nail polish is therapeutic.

When the 28-year-old Traverse City woman researched the ingredients some polishes contain, her peaceful pastime turned into her career.

“I read an article about how toxic regular store-bought nail polishes are, so researching how to make my own healthier alternative became a real passion of mine,” said Springberg, founder of Northern Nail Polish and Northern Apothecary. “Making nail polish takes patience, many trials and errors and dedication. Finding the correct ratios of ingredients to ensure the nail polish behaves just how you want it is the hardest part.”

KC Springberg, founder of Northern Nail Polish and Northern Apothecary
Credit: KC Springberg

Springberg’s expansive color palette comprises communities, natural beauty and spectacles found in Michigan, many unique to The Pike.

“Lake Michigan,” “Torch Lake” and “Grand Haven” are among her blues. Other nods include the brilliant red “Cherry Festival,” a bubblegum pink “Tulip Festival,” a grayed-taupe “Petoskey Stone,” the holographic, charcoal black “M-22” and “Gwen Frostic,” a silky, shimmering pastel green named after the late block-print artist who resided in Springberg’s native Benzonia. 

“Inspiration for the colors that I come up with comes from adventures around Michigan,” Springberg said. “I am always snapping photos and thinking of nail polish names and shades along the way. “My creative brain is always ‘on,’ so I take advantage of that wherever I go.”

Springberg creates all of her nail polishes in her studio using natural, vegan ingredients to form a long-lasting, chip-resistant coat easily removable by her soy-based polish remover, she said. All polishes are 10-toxin-free, cruelty-free and vegan. They’re pigmented with natural minerals so they won’t leave stains after removal, she said.

“Torch Lake” nail polish
Credit: Courtesy of Brianna Robles

With the exception of a bit of e-commerce assistance, Springberg is very much a one-woman operation. She designs future colors and collections, makes and mixes current colors, designs labels, fulfills website orders, creates email newsletters for her customer base, posts on Facebook and Instagram, attends arts-and-crafts shows, builds relationships with local boutiques, fields inquiries and keeps the books.

“I am lucky to call Northern Nail Polish my full-time job,” Springberg said. “There is always work to be done.”

Despite her sizable workload, Springberg shows no signs of slowing. She continues to pour her seemingly limitless energy into her affiliate brand, Northern Apothecary, as well.

“It just didn’t make sense to me to stop at making non-toxic nail polish,” she said. “Why not expand to other cosmetics? The hardest part was finding eyeshadows and blush that don’t contain talc or other unnecessary fillers. Even some labeled ‘natural’ contained these ingredients, so it became a project of mine to formulate my own.”

Credit: KC Springberg

Springberg’s core beliefs and standards continue to guide every new creation and business decision she makes, she said.

“The heart and soul of even becoming an entrepreneur in the first place for me has always been making products that are good quality, clean and better for you than the conventional, have low impact on the beautiful environment that surrounds us, and support local economies and other small businesses.”