Rachel James Is Building Her Nail Empire With Innovation, Integrity and Inspirational Women At Its Center

By Jade Solomon

Pear Nova is an award-winning luxury nail lacquer brand that delivers inclusivity, variety and celebrates brown girl magic. Launched in 2012 by founder Rachel James, Pear Nova employs an “innovative, long-wearing” formula that is both cruelty-free and vegan, and offers over thirty classic, and gel, lacquer shades.

James pulls inspiration from runway trends, global designers and remarkable women;

which is certainly reflected in Pear Nova’s accolades. The brand  is a favorite of Issa Rae’s, has partnered with TNT’s CLAWS , and has even been featured as an exclusive holiday essential in Oprah’s Favorite Things 2020  List .

Read more as she shares what inspired her to take a leap of faith as an early entrepreneur, why it was so important for her to create a holistic nail brand, and how it feels for Pear Nova to be a representation of strong women everywhere.

You launched Pear Nova back in 2012. This was a time where social media platforms like Instagram were still taking form and entrepreneurialism was not as popular or widespread as it is today. What gave you the courage to go out on a limb and launch your own business? And how did you go about conquering the research that was needed, as well as spreading awareness about your line?

Even before the popularity of being a boss, I’ve always had the spirit of entrepreneurship in me – garage sales, washing cars in the neighborhood and lemonade stands to start – so there was no question that I wanted to work for myself. Good examples of indie nail brands were rare at the time so I did a lot of research on color cosmetics, the beauty industry itself, then began to hand mix nail lacquer in my parents’ basement. Instagram and Twitter were my main platforms to share my journey. [And] after seeing the positive reactions to the nail shades and color palettes shared, my confidence grew.

You traveled to Paris, France and attended the Cosmetagora. What differences did you notice between the French and American beauty industries? And what were you able to learn about the beauty industry as a whole during your time overseas?

Honestly it’s so hard to say the difference between the two. I had a nine month old that was teething, breastfeeding and I had jet lag the entire trip. I do remember products feeling luxurious, as well as the significance of having high quality ingredients. Paris and Cosmetagora inspired me to create a luxury product, and the experience was also my first major lesson in balancing mommyhood and entrepreneurship.

Why was it so important to you for your nail lacquer line, Pear Nova, to possess the qualities of having an innovative long wear formula with a wide range of custom color choices? It’s also a line that is cruelty free, vegan friendly and 10 free.

I’m a nail polish addict first before a CEO, so these things are important to me as a consumer. I had to check all the boxes when it came to healthy, long lasting shades for all skin tones simply because – why can’t we have it all? It seemed like our community was so used to compromising, especially when it came to cosmetic shades suited for medium to deep skin tones. In my mind, it was way overdue [and time to fill that void].

Pear Nova ended 2021 with an amazing partnership with TNT for the final season of its show CLAWS. How was it designing a collection reflective of not only the show’s essence, but the essence of  “all female hustlers, visionaries and queens”?

I’m a fan of CLAWS and the actresses both on and off screen! When the show first aired in 2017, I remember tuning in thinking how dope it would be to have my products on the show. To be able to collaborate with CLAWS for a custom collection was proof that the universe was listening and had a bigger plan.

What can we expect next from Pear Nova and your physical location, Pear Nova Studio? And are there any areas, as an entrepreneur, that you haven’t tapped into yet that you would like to?

With Pear Nova we are continuing to develop more high quality, long wearing shades and nail care products. We also have some very exciting partnerships in the works for the future. At Pear Nova Studio we are accepting new clients and are in the process of moving so expect to see a new space by Spring.


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