Usually, siblings can play but not work together. Not Branka and Rade Tomic, though. The brother-sister duo behind new, luxury, vegan, nail-lacquer line LVX makes the ultimate team. These tastemakers have blended their luxury-goods experiences to create a fashion-forward brand that also happens to be environmentally friendly. Curious where they get inspiration? We followed them around to some of their most frequented hot spots — and captured their style faves, too. Sibling rivalry? Not here.
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Styled by Eric Himel
Photographed by Anjali Pinto
A vegan nail polish line seems like an ambitious venture. How and when did you get your start?
"I’ve always aspired to be an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t until after college that I began to delve deeper. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the classic 9-to-5 because it would restrict my ability to express my creativity to the fullest."
"After months of reading many different books on motivation, success, and self-development, I finally had the knowledge and confidence I needed to move forward. I had the fire and drive to create something great but I didn’t know what just yet. Then one day, after having a rather in-depth conversation about nail polish with a coworker, the idea for the first luxury nail lacquer brand dedicated to high fashion came to me."
Branka is wearing a Blessed Are The Meek skirt, Nightcap bodysuit, Zara shoes, and a custom-made headpiece.
Rade is wearing a Zara blazer, jeans, and T-shirt; Hugo Boss belt; and Aldo shoes.
Styled by Eric Himel
So, would you say the inspiration for LVX was drawn from the fashion world?
BT: "We saw that there was a lack in the market for a truly great nail-polish brand made without compromises. Rade and I wanted to create a product that was truly unique and that people would love. With a background in fashion, I found it crucial to incorporate runway and color trends into the company’s core values and vision."
"We wanted to educate our customers on high fashion, runway, and color trends. What we created was a brand that was long lasting, chip resistant, five-free, cruelty-free, and vegan."
What does the name stand for?
"LVX is a Latin word, and the direct translation is light. Light is the essence of all color."
Have there been any stars spotted wearing LVX?
BT: "Yes! The most recent celebrity seen was Molly Sims. She adores LVX — two of her favorite colors are Vermillion and Dark Matter."
What do you do to make sure you’re keeping on top of industry trends and your competition?
BT: "We analyze the latest trends from the top fashion shows each season by closely studying thousands of runway presentations from renowned designers. I usually watch footage from the shows during Fashion Week, and during the weeks that follow, I examine over 13,000 looks from each season. It’s a tedious process, but definitely one of my favorite tasks as the creative director."
What do you love about RPM Italian?
"First, I love the ambiance and decor in RPM. It feels rich yet very modern and chic. The seating is great for going to dinner with close friends and sharing some great conversation and laughs while sharing some of its amazing tapas-style, Italian-inspired dishes. This restaurant has it all for a great night in downtown Chicago. I recommend the spicy king crab with squid-ink spaghetti, the Tuscan kale salad, and the lobster caprese."
What other beauty companies do you admire and why?
BT: "We admire and are inspired by Paul Mitchell. Founders John Paul DeJoria and Paul Mitchell launched their hair-care system over 30 years ago in an effort to provide professionals and consumers with luxury hair care at an affordable price. In addition to producing high-quality hair care, they are dedicated to making our world a more beautiful place. They were the first professional beauty company to stand up against animal testing, and have long been a leader in the global effort to protect consumers from tampered products."
What do you love about Heavenly Massage?
"I love coming here at least once a month to relieve stress and clear my mind. Whether it’s a hot-stone therapy massage, detoxifying mud wrap, or a manicure and pedicure, I always leave here feeling recharged and refreshed."
What’s your favorite LVX color right now?
BT: "My favorite color at the moment is Fantom. I am in love with the white trend in nails right now. White is timeless and elegant, yet on nails, it makes such a bold statement and looks great with a summer tan."
Tell us about the latest collection!
BT: For our summer 2013 collection, inspiration was drawn from the runway presentations from around the world. From Marchesa and J Mendel’s deep raspberry gowns to Missoni and Chalayan’s playful use of mint green, our summer shades were translated directly from these amazing pieces and many others."
Are there any rules we should follow when it comes to wearing nail polish (i.e. matching with lipstick, our clothing, etc.)?
BT: "There are no rules for nail polish, but I do believe that it is a fashion accessory and should be paired just as any other piece of accessory is. I like pairing contrasting lip colors to nails such as fuchsia lips with emerald-green nails. My favorite combination is wearing MAC lipstick in Lickable with LVX polish in Viridian."
How many stockists are on your list so far?
BT: "There are over 100 LVX stockists, which include both domestic and international department stores, boutiques, salons, spas, and online stores."
How would you describe your style?
BT: "Eclectic and arbitrary. I like staying alert and on top of the current trends, but I keep it at a minimal and incorporate it into my own unique style. I love mixing basics with funky pieces such as a black knit top (usually crop — its been my signature for a few years now) with silk harem pants. Basic pieces are essential to my wardrobe, and heels are everything. The higher the better! Sneakers should never be worn outside of the gym — unless of course they have wedges!"
Branka is wearing a Rails shirt, rag & bone pants, and Zara shoes.
What do you love about space519?
"I love the unpredictability of the merchandise within space519. Whether you’re shopping for makeup, accessories, clothing or furniture, space519 has it all. Most of the props and art pieces used in the store are for sale; it’s a great place to pick up some amazing vintage pieces for your home! The merchandise is assorted and diverse, and everything is unique. You never know what new additions you may find."
Who are some of your go-to designers?
BT: "Balmain, Balenciaga, and Alexander Wang. I love the intricacy of Balmain’s designs, and those signature-structured pieces and patterns are to die for! Balenciaga’s structured pieces and obsession with geometric shapes are incredible. It's great that every creative director that has run the label has kept Cristobal Balenciaga’s original trademarks and philosophy alive."
"I love the youthful attitude behind Wang’s designs. His designs are everyday wearable pieces. As he said it himself, he aims for 'clothes that girls want to wear.' His aesthetic is basic-meets-badass; motorcycle-chic as some may put it. I am eager to see what he will bring to the table as Balenciaga’s newly appointed creative director."
Branka is wearing a Dannijo necklace, H&M sweater, Mlle Mademoiselle pants, and Forever 21 shoes.
What are three things in your closet you couldn’t live without?
BT: "My Balenciaga city bag, Steve Madden black combat boots, and Moschino leather belt."
How is it working with family?
RT: "It's great working with someone I have known forever and someone I am very similar to. We can connect on a great level because we are on the same wavelength. We have different strengths and we make up for each other’s weaknesses."
What’s a typical day like for you?
BT: "There is no such thing as a typical day. We both wear many hats within the company. Creative director, marketing director, social-media coordinator, event planner, and sales director are just a few of our roles. And it doesn’t stop just there. Some days we fly out to conduct product knowledge and sales-training meetings with our retail partners, while other days I am glued to the monitor for hours and days on end studying the latest runway shows and color trends to determine what the next season will hold for LVX."
What do you love about the Peninsula?
"The atmosphere is very decadent and luxurious. It's one of our favorite places to meet outside of the office to discuss new ideas and enjoy a great lunch."
Do you both come up with the names for the polishes?
"We work together to come up with the names for each color. We strive to keep the names simple and sophisticated, yet we love to give names with a historical background and meaning. For example, Rade came up with the name ‘Modena’ for our summer 2013 red. The red is a classic fire-engine red — Ferrari red as some may describe it. Modena is the city in Italy that the founder of Ferrari was born and is also the name for the Iconic Ferrari F360 model."
Branka is wearing a This Is A Love Song dress and Zara shoes.
Rade is wearing a Michael Kors jacket, Armani shirt, and Zara jeans and shoes.
Tell us a little bit about what the production process is like.
RT: "As Branka mentioned, we begin by studying all of the looks and trends from Fashion Week around the world to determine the season’s top colors for our next collection. Countless hours go into narrowing the choices down to the top six shades that define that season. Once the colors are chosen, there is a long process of carefully selecting color names with deep meaning and representation for that shade."
"Next comes the production of the polish. The colors are sampled and then resampled to make sure they match the original shade chosen. Once the polish is produced, there is an arduous process of quality controlling of the bottles, caps, and boxes. We strive to bring our customers a top quality product."
If you could create a nail polish for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would the color be?
BT: "Stella McCartney. The English designer is famous for eliminating any use of leather, fur, silk, wool or any other animal derived fabrics in her designs. As you know, LVX nail polish is vegan and does not contain any animal product including silk, guanine (fish scales), keratin, or carmine. I would choose a dark and sultry color to produce for her. I think a seductive deep shade would pair amazing with her playful and delicate designs."
What do you attribute your success rate to?
RT: "Passion, knowledge, and open mindedness. We have the “get it done” attitude.
What’s your ultimate career goal?
"Regardless of how large our company grows, I want to remain the creative director of LVX indefinitely. In addition, I have plans to launch another company with Rade, but I’ll let him tell you more about that…"
RT: "My ultimate career goal is to create and launch an incubator company; a place where entrepreneurs can grow and develop their ideas and brand their company."