A fresh coat of paint can make almost anything look and feel brand new, and the same goes for your nails. “It makes people happy; uplifts each other,” says Megan (Meggie) Merkosky, co-founder of Peppi Gel, a nail polish company founded in Manassas in 2016.
Merkosky, along with business partner Tiffany Jacobs, aren’t only focused on creating nail polish in peppy colors, but are determined to bring women together through the mutual love of painting their nails. “We call our customers Peppi Babes,” Jacobs says. “We’ve built a community around the product, and it’s ended up being a really tight-knit community.”
The product comes in dip powder form: nail polish that creates gel polish sans UV lights. The result is a long-lasting (up to three to four weeks of wear) manicure that’s organic, vegan and three-free, meaning toluene, DBP and formaldehyde are not used as ingredients. “We’ve met people who say they have gotten skin cancer from the UV lights used for gel polish, so we wanted something that was a healthier alternative to gels and acrylics, and a healthier alternative overall,” Merkosky says.
Peppi Gel offers over 150 nail polish shades, including glitter dip powders and polish that changes colors based on temperature. Products, including Peppi Gel Basic Starter Kits ($64.99 each; includes one dipping powder, three liquid bottles for setting and shine, one buffer block and instructions), can be bought online or at the brand’s Manassas storefront, which will also serve as the location for Peppi Gel’s three-year anniversary party on Sept. 7.
Opening a full nail salon may or may not be in the company’s future (“We’ve definitely talked about it, but we’re neutral on that right now,” Jacobs says), but either way, it’s clear that the Peppi Gel founders will continue to stick with what really drives them. “The community makes each other feel special,” Merkosky says. “And through it, you get to express yourself. It’s pretty amazing.” // 7757 Ashton Ave., Manassas
Probase (1): Used to prepare the nail to be dipped into the powder. Apply to about 85% of each nail.
Dip Powder: Dip your nails in at a slight angle when applying the powder—never facedown.
Activator (2): This sets the polish. Apply two coats.
Finish Gel (3): After applying the finish gel, your nails will be dried and ready in two minutes.