The name Base Coat was inspired by the philosophy of the business and brand: A beautiful set of nails starts with a healthy base coat. That is the foundation of our business and also the inspiration behind the two X’s in our logo: 10 fingers and 10 toes — XX.
We believe that wellness should not be compromised for beauty. Our custom formulated creams, scrubs and oils used in all of the services at Base Coat Nail Salon™ are vegan friendly, scented with only essential oils, plant based preservatives and never contain petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates or any other harmful chemicals.
To preserve a non-toxic environment, we do not offer nail-damaging acrylic, hard gels or promote the use of UV lights that age and damage the skin. Our nail polish remover is gentle to ensure your skin doesn’t dry out. We thoughtfully curated 100 current and classic colors with options to complement every skin tone just for you without ever exposing you, our technicians, or the environment to harmful chemicals. Our Base Coat nail polish is long-wearing and 8-Free of the most toxic ingredients known to cause health problems including cancer, asthma and even neonatal death. Does not contain Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, and Parabens. All our products are responsibly made in the USA, vegan, gluten and cruelty-free.
When Tran Wills was pregnant with her fourth child, she decided she wanted one last pedicure before going into the hospital. Upon waiting for a treatment at a neighborhood salon, her nose started bleeding and she became nauseous due to being so sensitive to all of the smells and harsh chemicals. She immediately walked out and in her gut, she knew this couldn’t be good – everyone was always so conscious about the foods they ate, but didn’t think as much about what they put on their bodies. After years of researching non-toxic products, she realized the need for a healthy salon environment that everyone could benefit from, especially pregnant and nursing moms and those with allergies. In 2013, Base Coat was founded in Denver as the first non-toxic nail spa in the city and was also one of just a few in the United States to be truly non-toxic.
Over the course of several years owning many businesses, working with artists, planning events and building up the creative community in Denver, Tran had acquired a healthy list of accolades but, more importantly, a keen sense for community-based marketing and brand building. She later put this to the test working as the social media director for a large online retailer. Two years later, Tran realized it was time to harness all that she had learned during her tenure and ventured back into building her own businesses and brands, which is when she opened Base Coat, and later partnered with Ali Elman and Sarah Simon.
Having come from a family of nail technicians, Tran always had a passion for the nail industry and knew that in order to be a better boss, it was essential to also know what it’s like to be behind the chair and have a better understanding of the industry from top to bottom. She is currently pursuing her nail technician certification so that she can continue to support her Base Coat family as they continue to grow and expand their business.
Ali has always been a forward thinker with a drive to pursue her visions. After attending college in San Diego, she began working as a market researcher for a commercial real estate firm which allowed her to cultivate her keen sense and love for finding promising retail and restaurant spaces. She later moved to New York to become an estate manager for two well-known CEOs where she sharpened her finance skills and further refined her design aesthetic working as project lead on renovation projects.
After spending years helping others cultivate and shape their own dreams, she decided to shift her energy into starting her own businesses. In 2012, Ali opened Black Eye Coffee in Denver, a community-centric coffee shop located in the LoHi neighborhood that was promptly named “best new coffee shop” by Westword, with multiple national press features to follow. Years later, Black Eye Coffee evolved as both a business and brand, so Ali and her partners set out to open a second location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and it was recently named one of the “15 hottest new restaurants” by Zagat.
Ali’s next venture came about when she partnered with Tran Wills to launch Base Coat, which was founded on the need for the nail industry to change the way it provides services. It was not only important to create a safer environment for clients, but also for technicians to have fair living wages and working conditions. At Base Coat, Ali and her co-founders strive to prove that their business model works – that a nail salon can be profitable for both the business and its employees and that their work doesn’t have to compromise their health. She says it’s “incredibly rewarding” to have a company that supports other women and she’s always looking for ways to continue growing the brand while staying true to their core values.
Ali is a graduate of the University of San Diego with a degree in business marketing. She is also the mother to a strong-willed two-and-a-half-year-old, her “greatest creation,” who she hopes to one day make proud of her accomplishments.
Sarah Simon is the founder and creative director of The Simon Collective, a boutique venture capital firm within the Simon Private Equity Group, a subsidiary of the Simon Property Group. The Simon Collective has joined Base Coat as its main investing partner and a consultant on design and branding.
Born in Indiana with an upbringing in California, Sarah was raised with an intuition for business and always had a passion for bringing visions to reality. Her career began by connecting with like-minded individuals with the intention of developing conceptual creative ventures. She has since gone on to curate an impressive roster of successfully launched businesses within the hospitality, wellness and retail industries throughout the United States, which ultimately led her to launch The Simon Collective in 2011.
With a focus on supporting innovation, Sarah leads The Simon Collective’s expansion in her continued pursuit of partnering with clients and collaborators that she is intrigued by and passionate about working with. Sarah is proud to be part of the team at Base Coat with her fellow co-founders that she not only admires, but feels inspired by.
Sarah is a graduate of the Steinhardt School at New York University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media, Culture and Communications.