GameChangers | NAWBO


A conversation with Jan Arnold, Co-Founder and Style Director of CND - Creative Nail Design about working with family, revolutionizing the salon industry and the latest chapter in CND's history. 

Jan Arnold, Co-Founder, Creative Nail Design, Inc.

Jan and her brother launched their small business in their family’s garage in Vista, California in 1979, starting with a patented formula and a big dream. Since then, Jan and her team have introduced bold new designs and products that have literally revolutionized the salon industry and transformed the way American women wear nail color.

CND Shellac™, one of the company’s best-loved products, made its debut here in Chicago. We are thrilled to welcome Jan as the keynote speaker for NAWBO Chicago’s 2019 Achievement Luncheon.

Tell us about Jan Arnold as a young person. Were you a science kid, a fashion kid, or some of both?  

When I was young I was always drawing, writing and creating. I loved watching the Miss America Pageant so I could sketch the girls in their gorgeous outfits! When I was 8, I entered a drawing contest sponsored by a morning TV show. It was National Dental Week, and since my dad was a dentist, I drew a tooth dressed in top hat and tails. Imagine how I felt when they announced I was the winner! I won a year’s supply of Hostess Twinkies, which Dad was NOT excited about … but pretty soon, our neighborhood was awash in sugary treats.

How did your father’s patent help launch your company?

One day Dad was fitting a custom crown on a patient who happened to be a manicurist, who told him that she recognized the scent of the compound he was using. In chatting with her, he realized it must be similar to products she used in her salon. That moment sparked an idea for a nail product based on a cross-linked molecular structure. This was the idea behind SolarNail™, our very first product.

Why was this revolutionary for nail coatings?

SolarNail was the very first nail enhancement product of its kind. It gave the nail coating a unique toughness, resiliency and color stability. It was very different from single-link polymer coatings that led to thickness, yellowing and brittleness. The unique chemistry of SolarNail enabled nail professionals to create thin, light, natural-looking nails – and the industry loved it.

Early on, CND made a commitment to help salon owners and nail technicians build a strong, loyal customer base. How has partnering with other women entrepreneurs fueled your success?

Then and now, most nail professionals are female business owners. These women were building a new industry in the 1980s as CND was making its start -- and I found that I loved working with them. They were smart and precise in their work, yet creative and fun, too. This blend of personality traits is what makes nail professionals so good at their jobs. I see them as the most influential of all salon professionals in the beauty industry.

What are your thoughts on building a business with family?

Family-owned businesses can be beautiful, especially when each person has a clearly defined role. In our case, Dad was our chief chemist, my brother was the manufacturing and finance guy and I was the go-to girl for creative marketing and client education. Our individual strengths came together in a unique way. It was especially sweet that we could disagree passionately during the business day, then sit down together at night to enjoy a family dinner, united as one.

What does a great manicure do for a woman’s confidence?

CND Shellac™ is one of the most important beauty breakthroughs of the last 4 decades. This product solved the problem of chipping, sheet marks, dulling, peeling, cracking and color fading. When a busy, active woman wears Shellac, she knows her nails will look great for 14 days or more! Perfectly polished nails say something powerful about us. They express pride in our attention to detail, our love of color, and the fact that when we shake hands and express ourselves, others notice how our hands look. And let’s be honest … it’s just a thrill when our nails look great!

What has been your greatest source of personal strength as your company has grown and changed? 

Staying healthy and happy.  If you take good care of yourself and stay inspired personally, then you are free to support others in a generous way.

Could you ever have imagined becoming part of Revlon? What are your reflections on this latest chapter in your company’s history?

It’s stunning to think that our new parent company actually invented nail polish in 1932! Charles Revson’s original formula hadn’t changed significantly until we came out with Shellac, which revolutionized nail color as a product category. Revlon is an iconic beauty company and we are so proud to have their support and clout behind us.




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