The heart & mind behind … Kester Black

Over the next few months we’re going to introduce you to some of our wonderful suppliers via little get-to-know-you chats in our newsletter. We’ll also be making them available on our blog, as you can see. We want you to know and love our suppliers just as much as we do! Last week we spoke to Anna Ross about her ethical nail polish brand Kester Black, her inspiration, creative process and the best kept secret in Melbourne’s Inner North.


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Tell us a little about the path that led you to create Kester Black.

Kester Black began 4 years ago as a clothing label while I was studying a Bachelor of Design, majoring in fashion, in the South of New Zealand. When I graduated, my wise mother dearest suggested I broaden my horizons overseas. I packed my bags and began searching for a job in Melbourne. I began making jewellery and selling it back to New Zealand where that seemed to be quite successful for a few years.

I had decided I was bored of merely working with sterling silver and began researching enamel paints to use on the jewellery I was making. It led me to looking into nail polish, and I really saw a gap in the market. I decided to manufacture and sell my own nail polish line to complement my jewellery. It was a major turning point in my career when, as the jewellery market had become really saturated and my nail polish sales were going through the roof…I decided to focus solely on the nail polish side of things and lay the jewellery to rest.


How would you describe Kester Black?

We like geometric shapes, clean edges and defined lines. We like captivating imagery and simplistic yet clever designs.


How do you choose/create your colours?

Deciding on colour ranges is always a big task. [O]ne of our latest ranges was almost entirely decided on by laying on the floor in a sunny patch in the office, flicking through Pantone colour charts and chatting about what we did and didn’t like. I think it’s safe to say that only good decisions can be made while lying in the sun discussing colourful things.


Take us through your regular work day.

I’m usually awoken at the first sign of light by my little brown Burmese cat King George Von Whiskers, nudging me to let him get under the blankets for a morning cuddle. This is the point in which I grab my laptop from beside my bed and set up shop for the morning. I check my emails, do my accounting and try to clear my inbox before it gets swamped again…

After breakfast and a shower I hop on my bike and ride to the Kester Black office, a beautiful sunlit space in Collingwood. Once I’m in the office, Cardia (my lovely employee) and I have…”The Morning Cuddle”; our chance to debrief, before packing and sending orders, answering e-mails and brainstorming and implementing new Kester Black campaigns. We have pretty jam-packed days…I could be mixing up colours for a new collection, researching photo shoot ideas, updating the website, or planning for my next collaboration.


What can we look forward to next from Kester Black?

I can’t say too much, but I will hint at some exciting things happening this Christmas. We have decided to get all of Kester Black’s friends together and put on something that I think our customers will really appreciate! It’s kind of like a giant collaboration, but that’s all I can say about that!

We are very much looking forward to being a part of the Melbourne Big Design Market and the Dumbo Feather Christmas Fete which should both be really great…We can’t wait to see what’s being showcased.

Aside from all of that, we’ve recently released our first palm oil free soap range. We actually have The Goodness Bureau to thank for some of the initial decisions that we had to make in regards to the sustainability of our soap. Tyrone gave me a bit of an insight into the so called ‘sustainable palm oil’ industry, and prompted me to go looking further. As a result, our soaps are now completely palm oil free, so thank you!


Which other Australian artists, designers or creative people inspire you?

There are so many artists and designers that inspire me. On the walls of the Kester Black office we have some amazing work by Melbourne artist Carla Fletcher and another artist that I’m loving at the moment named Ti Kunkit.

Kester Black will be collaborating with many of our favourite designers this Christmas, some of whom include Beci Orpin, Dawn Tan, Robbie Sands from Sands Made, and many others. I also have to say that I am constantly being inspired by like-minded friends. Chelsea Bagan and I are always keeping each other on our toes, thinking up wild and wonderful ways to colour the world one nail at a time.


Finally, what is the best kept secret in Melbourne’s Inner North?

There are so many! I’m going to have to go with “Green Park“. It’s a cafe in Carlton North, which has just taken over the old St Ali space. They have just opened up for really lovely intimate dinners and boy the food and wine is to die for. It’s also amazingly priced for something so special!

When I really think about it though, I might even add that there is arguably the best pizza in all of Melbourne being served at La Bussola in Brunswick East. You wouldn’t expect it from the shop front, or even by the very casual staff, but this place is where it’s at! The pizza here never disappoints me, it’s completely perfect in a simple and delicious kind of way.

Big thanks to Anna Ross for taking the time to write such lovely responses to our questions! Kester Black nail polishes are in store and online now. Come in and see them, you will not be able to resist the gorgeous array of colours!


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