When our founder Marisa first tried SAMA Nail Polish in the shade 'Holly' it was love at first application! The beautiful colour, the fast drying formula and the fact it was vegan and cruelty free ticked of all her boxes and she immediately bought more of their bold and unique colours and she was not disappointed! In fact, she loved the nail polishes so much that she reached out to SAMA Nail Polish founder Destiny to see if she would like to join the Wild & Cruelty Free family and we are so happy she accepted!
In this interview we caught up with Destiny to learn more about the brand, what SAMA actually means and to find out how a nail polish can be halal, who knew?!
W&CF: Hi Destiny, we are so thrilled to welcome SAMA to the Wild & Cruelty Free family. When did you launch SAMA and what made you decide to create your own collection of nail polishes?
SAMA launched in 2020, but was in the works for a few years prior. We were noticing heaps of nail polishes that just weren't cutting it – bad ingredients, boring branding, you know the likes. Around that time, some famous guys were getting creative with their accessories, and rocking nail polish. We thought, "Why not make something cool that everyone can enjoy?" So, we rolled up our sleeves and created a line that's vegan, plant-based, halal, and inclusive. It's nail polish for everyone!
What does SAMA mean or stand for?
SAMA, or 様 in Japanese, is like a way of showing respect when you're talking to someone. My great grandma, Toshiko Toyama, made her way from Japan to Hawaii during WW2, and my extended family still lives there, keeping up with both Japanese and Hawaiian traditions. So, SAMA isn't just a name; it's a shout-out to my family's roots. For me, it's all about treating everyone like equals, no matter what they believe or where they come from.
All the nail polish shades you have created are so bold and unique. What is your process for choosing the colours you release?
We love bold, funky colours here at SAMA HQ! I’ve spent countless hours in Pantone books, strolling the Bunnings paint swatch aisle, and reviewing colour theory. At our core, our colours represent actual people, and we like to think these colours align with their personalities as well. For example, our pink colour Ashley is the pinnacle of femininity. We take a lot of inspiration from our community, and often ask our audience what colours they would like to see, so we can keep building our colour range.
The names of your nail polishes make each one feel so personal. Are they named after people you know?
Yes! Each polish is named after real people. I’m lucky I’m surrounded by some amazing people, so it’s easy to pull out some fun quirks. We believe SAMA is here to show the good in everyone, accepting everyone as equals. What better way to do that then personify people into fun colours?
In addition to being Vegan and Cruelty Free your range is also Halal. Can you share how nail polish can be Halal?
This is a good one! We get asked this a lot. In order for nail polish to be halal, it needs to be cruelty free and water permeable. For people to practice Wudu, water needs to penetrate every aspect of their body to be clean. Traditional nail polish isn’t breathable or water permeable, so people practicing Halal can’t wear it. That’s part of what makes SAMA so great - we can be so inclusive!
It is rare to find plant based nail polishes. How important was this to you and what does it mean for nail polish to be 10 Free?
Having a no-nasty, plant based nail polish was incredibly important in our decision making. We spent a lot of time and money on R&D to find a manufacturer in Australia whose formula was still high quality.
When nail polish is 10 Free, it means that it doesn’t contain the top 10 chemicals commonly found in nail polish like formaldehyde, toluene, parabens, camphor, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), xylene, phthalates, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP), ethyl tosylamide. A lot of these chemicals are quite controversial and found to be carcinogenic.
Pair that with nail biters, and these chemicals have a direct pathway into your body! So, we were very adamant about creating a safer, no-nasty alternative for our community.
We love that your range is made locally in Australia. Tell us how you went about finding a manufacturer who aligned with your brand values and everything you were looking to achieve?
This was probably one of the hardest parts of trying to launch SAMA, as we went through all the different pathways. We tried some samples from Alibaba and manufacturers in China, but their factories and accreditations just weren’t something we felt aligned with our brand. The overall quality of the formula also just wasn’t up to our standard.
So we kept searching over 12 months, and eventually found a manufacturer that was perfect - and they are only 30 minutes up the road from our office!
We are so happy we found our manufacturer, and have built such a great relationship with them. We’ve gotten to know the head formular named Pa, and she’s just a gem. We love that they’re cruelty-free, halal, and ethically certified, and Aussie based!
You have decided on the colours and it's time to start sampling. Do you generally nail (pun-intended) the colour on the first round or does it take some perfecting? Do you ever end up with an unexpected colour and decide to roll with it?
We’ve been really lucky with our first colour release, we actually nailed it on the first go! We definitely didn’t expect some of the best-sellers to be such hot commodities, but we always learning what our community likes.
How is SAMA different from other nail polish brands on the market?
We like to think SAMA is on a mission to create a more inclusive beauty industry, and nail polish is the foundation to it. Our brand is unique and represents that first and foremost, as our bold identity is very different to the typical nail polish brands on the market.
SAMA aims to break down the gender stereotyping in the beauty industry one hand at a time. Talk to us about inclusivity and why this is important to you.
Inclusivity is a big deal for us because we believe that beauty should be for everyone. No matter who you are or where you come from, you should have the chance to express yourself however you want. We're all about breaking down barriers and making people feel welcome. It's about respect, creativity, and letting people be themselves. That's what SAMA's all about!
A little bird told us you might have a new collection launching in early 2024. Can you give us a hint of what kind of colours we can expect?
We don’t want to give too much away, but I can definitely say that we’ve taken a lot of requests from our community and ran with them! Expect even more bold, fun colours :)
1. Favourite TV show…
Oh so many… What We Do In The Shadows for a dry comedy, or Animal Kingdom for a more serious show!
2. The makeup product you can't live without…
Of course my Carrot Colour Pot from Wild & Cruelty Free!
3. You never leave home without…
I’m a chapstick girly. I have them scattered throughout my car and purse!
4. A life changing event or experience…
Moving to Australia at 18. I’m from California originally!
5. What lights you up?
Slow mornings with my partner, beach walks, interior design, fashion, and sudoku!
Thank you so much for chatting with us, we love your work and can't wait to see what SAMA releases next x