When we last checked in with Pear Nova founder Rachel James, we were enjoying an in-person mani-pedi at her then-newly opened studio space in our shared hometown of Chicago. The pre-COVID space was one where clients—and particularly Black women—could relax, unwind, and bundle their beauty regimens—booking appointments for brow shaping and braiding along with their Pear Nova nail treatments.
Two years later, the CEO, creative director, mom and Black Ink Chicago alum has done the hard work of steering her business through a global pandemic, reopening her studio and innovating along the way. In addition to managing her luxury, vegan, cruelty-free & 10-free nail brand line to sold-out status online, James navigated a climate which saw an unprecedented uptick in interest in Black-owned brands, as consumers sought their own ways to express that Black lives—and businesses—matter.
“We were sold out for for months; we could not get new products in,” James explained, adding that the business boom came with a caveat. “I don’t want to only be supported because I’m Black. I would love to just be supported because my product is great.”
Pear Nova’s products are indisputably great, and endurance is part of the brand’s ethos. It’s part of its namesake, which James chose for her late “sister-in-love” Nova, who was murdered in a domestic violence incident alongside her 9-month-old daughter in 2009. James’ brand was equally inspired by the Nova pear tree, which is extremely hardy and resistant to external forces.
“When I was creating the brand, I knew hands-down that I wanted to name it after her,” James shared. To further reinforce Nova’s legacy, the brand partners with domestic violence advocacy groups to raise awareness and funds wile providing services and a spa day. “This is the why,” says James. “Of course, the nail polish is the why, but now the reason why I really created it and who I created it after, it’s finally coming full circle.”