Adair and I met many moons ago in our former lives, me in Merchandising and she in Finance, both working for the same multi-billion dollar brand. Flash forward to meeting again in Litchfield, in Milton Market, and making the connection that Adair from Finance was the same Adair Ilyinsky who co-founded the revolutionary NYC nail salon TenoverTen. What began as a nail salon has morphed into a full blown brand of clean nail products ranging from eight-free nail color to the latest best seller The Sole Scrub. I'm thrilled to have these beautiful, and clean! products in the shop. Take a look here to learn more about Adair's journey...
I'm also thrilled that Adair will be in the shop for a trunk show on March 18th. Mark your calendars and please join us! Adair will have the full line of TenoverTen products, and lots of insights to share...
How did you find the transition from finance at a multi-billion dollar fashion company to starting your own brand?
It's so funny that I knew you (Martha) in another life. Thanks to Reed Krakoff, who coincidentally attended both my high school and college alma maters, I got an internship at Coach and then spent 7 years working there as a financial analyst. I had two incredible female mentors at Coach who had taken me under their wings and they were both thoroughly shocked (yet supportive) when I told them I was leaving to open a nail salon of all things. It seems like a crazy leap of faith in hindsight but my close friend and now business partner and I had the idea to open an elevated nail salon in Manhattan, which didn't really exist at the time, and we had the courage, confidence and 'what could possibly go wrong?' attitudes that only twenty somethings can claim. Thus Tenoverten was born.
What idea came first... the product or the salon? and was "clean" always a part of the equation?
The idea for the salon came first and we had a laundry list of things we wanted to disrupt about the typical nail salon experience. At the time, an online booking system was revolutionary (the competition all had those old school appointment books) and we offered a curated selection of nail polishes from luxury brands like CHANEL to indie lines with niche colors like Uslu Airlines out of Berlin. While our list of upgrades to the outmoded nail salon model was ever growing and hygiene was the #1 priority, "clean" was not actually part of the initial business concept. No one was really talking about clean beauty in 2010 and certainly not as it related to nail salons, but working in the salon day in and day out alongside our employees really got us thinking about the ingredients we were using (and thus inhaling) and we were inspired to create a non-toxic salon experience and product line.
Your products are so unique in the market...what is your product development process?
We are so fortunate to have our nail salon business to inform our product development. We always have our ear to the ground as to what products our customers want and what's missing from their hand and foot care routines. We heard so many customers complain about their hands betraying their age by showing sun spots, wrinkles and general dullness and that's when we really moved beyond nail polish and embraced the philosophy of hand and foot care as facegrade skincare in our product development.
We are so excited to have your gorgeous products in the shop, the fact that you are "local" makes it extra special. What's your connection to Litchfield?
My family moved to Litchfield from Cincinnati when I was in high school. My mother is originally from Connecticut and my parents were seeking a more rural lifestyle, especially since my father is a passionate gardener. My sisters and I were a little shell shocked at first as we'd come from a city suburb (we were distraught upon learning there wasn't pizza delivery in Litchfield at the time...) but we quickly acclimated to the slower pace and were awed by the natural beauty of Northwest CT. My husband and I got married at my father's house in Litchfield, spent the pandemic there with our two daughters and visit from Manhattan as often as we can.