Base Coat founder Tran Wills has been busy: launching Matriarch Mercantile (a new shop-in-shop at her Five Points salon), expanding into nine additional Nordstrom locations and a new brand partnership with Ideal Market by Whole Foods in Denver and Boulder. Not to mention, earlier this month, Tran was selected by the Denver Strategic Partnerships Commission to receive the Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award from Denver Women’s Commission. She was one of ten business owners who overcame adversity to better the interests and wellbeing of marginalized groups in Denver.
While it’s one thing for Wills to expand her brand commercially on a national level, with Matriarch and the Denver Community Fridge, it’s apparent that her local community is just as important. During this time, when many Denver businesses and Denverites are in need, Wills is using her platform to provide support and a helping hand.
This past November, Matriarch opened inside Base Coat Nail Salon’s Five Points location. In case you’re not familiar with Base Coat, it’s Denver’s first non-toxic nail salon and one of only a few in the U.S. Matriarch, a shop-in-shop project from Wills, is four years in the making. The name aims to embody the spirit of a matriarch; a woman who fearlessly cares for her family and community.
The product assortment at Matriarch includes sustainable, inclusive products that are quirky, beautiful and made for everyone. Locally crafted, hand-tied fresh flower bouquets are available from Bloom & Noosh, a company founded during the pandemic by Millie Boateng. Shoppers can also find Sisters Body products – locally-made hair and body products that gives 40% of all profits to women’s nonprofits. The list goes on: from embossed leather goods to Animal Handmade to retail showrooms and plant orphanages (yes, that exists), there’s so much to discover. As an extra bonus for locals looking to support local, over half of the store’s inventory comes from creators in the Denver area.
One of Wills’ driving motivations to open Matriarch was to continue supporting more women, BIPOC and LBGTQIA, independent artists. While this has always been a passion for Base Coat, she noticed that representation of these groups was lacking in Denver. “Consumers have started to become more intentional about the products they’re buying,” says Wills. “While Colorado is an extremely diverse place, we aren’t all represented equally in retail. I wanted Matriarch to be a diverse and inclusive space where everyone can see themselves in a product or brand we carry and feel comfortable coming in to shop.”
Matriarch is now open at 2700 Walnut St., Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To protect the health of employees and visitors in the dual-use space, temperature checks, health screenings and sanitization stations are available, as well as mandatory masks and social distancing. A selection of products are also available online.
Denver Community Fridge
On December 16, Base Coat Five Points became home to a community fridge that is local in its support and sourcing. Wills worked with Sandra Belat to create the concept, the fridge was a donation from local design studio Consume & Create and local tattoo artists Sandi Calistro and Rachel Paton designed and painted it. The fridge is open, food is available and it accepts donations 24/7. It’s fully funded on community aid and operated on a “take what you want, leave what you want” policy. More information can be found on the Denver Community Fridge Instagram.
In case you aren’t located near one of Base Coat’s three Denver locations, you can still find Base Coat’s coveted spa products and 50 polish colors at Nordstrom locations around the country (and online either from Nordstrom or Base Coat themselves). At Nordstrom’s salon and spa outlets, you can find the same non-toxic gel that’s used at the Base Coat salons. Base Coat products are available in Nordstrom stores in California, Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Texas and Washington.
Whole Foods’ Ideal Market
As the first salon-quality nail polish to meet Whole Foods’ standards for clean beauty, Base Coat products can also be found in Ideal Market – Whole Foods’ “smaller, neighborhood” grocery stores that stock organic produce and more local products. At the Denver and Boulder Ideal Market locations, a selection of polish colors and spa products are available.
It’s clear that where there is a need for improvement in the community, Tran Wills answers the call. Whether providing a space for local artists to showcase their work, providing food for the community or fighting for higher product standards in national retailers, Wills is making the world a little less toxic, one half-ounce bottle of polish at a time.
All photography by Chandler Kim.