Kester Black

Kester Black is exactly what we like to see when searching for a product to sell in our store; local, ethical and sustainable.

They provide their staff with a paid day off on their birthdays, offer ten additional paid days per year to staff wishing to volunteer, and match any registered charity donation made by their employees. Kester Black is currently on track to donate 15% of revenue to charity in 2017.

Kester Black manufactures all of their products in Australia, run their office completely on renewable energy, and are working towards becoming paper free.

The entire product including packaging is locally sourced, in order to reduce environmental impact, and all Kester Black nail polishes are 10-free, cruelty free, vegan and water-permeable.

Kester Black’s vision also aligns perfectly with our commitment to the Lygon Street Green Mile (

So we're happy to support the brand and offer a wide range of their nail polishes, and soaps .

We also happen to think Kester Black make the nicest nail polish we’ve seen! 

We were keen to learn more about the inner workings of Kester Black, so we interviewed founder, Anna Ross.

The Boroughs: Did Kester Black spring from a love of nail polish or were there other influences?

Anna Ross: I actually began Kester Black as a jewellery label and a point came where I started researching enamel paint to use on the pieces I was making. This led me to nail polish, and what I saw was a significant gap in the market!

I had so many ideas and just went for it; everything seemed to grow naturally from that point. 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.  

I decided to create an all-Australian brand that provided professional quality beauty products that did not compromise my social and environmental principles.

TB: Where does the name Kester Black come from?

AR: It was inspired by an idyllic faraway bay in New Zealand. I was out boating with friends and family one day in the Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand’s South Island, when I discovered beautiful St Kester Bay.

Across the bay was a solitary house, inaccessible by road and completely off the grid, which I later realised was owned by a priest, hence the choice of the colour black. That place was the pinnacle of New Zealand beauty to me and I wanted my business name to have a tie with where I came from.

TB: You refer to Kester Black as ‘inclusive.’ What makes Kester Black an inclusive brand?

AR: We focus on making our brand accessible to all individuals and avoid marketing our products to distinguished roles based on gender, race or religion. That’s why with all of our campaign imagery we exclude our model’s face from being able to identify with a wider audience.

Not many people know this but our nail polishes are made from a breathable base so that our Muslim community are able to use our products.

Our endeavours seem to be paying off, too. Our best (but really, our favourite) customer is a nine-year-old boy who visits us each year at The Big Design Market hosted in Melbourne just to come say hi!

TB: We love ethical business and it sounds like you take extremely good care of your employees. They must love you! Do you believe your employee friendly policies are good for business?

AR: Yes absolutely. I always wanted to build a company that people wanted to work for. Staff turnover is one of the biggest costs to small business so I have worked hard to create a positive workplace for my staff. I'm working hard to build a team that will hopefully stay with me for more than a year which seems rare these days!

TB: You made a political statement with the release of one of your new tones earlier this year, Impeachment, which included commissioning Ellen Porteous to make Trump-themed posters ( At the Boroughs, we thoroughly enjoyed this statement and the beautiful soft peach nail polish that came with it. What was the reaction like elsewhere? Did you face any backlash?

AR: This was one of our favourite projects this year. We had so much fun working with Ellen and pasting up our posters around Melbourne. The reception was something else. We took our brand to another area where we haven’t normally and it’s paid off as the response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There wasn't even one word of backlash!

It’s always been crucial to us to allow our customers to feel a strong connection to our brand and we wanted to bring light to an issue which meant a lot to our community.

TB: What local, ethical and sustainable brands do you like to support personally?

AR: I am really passionate about sustainability so one of my favourite local brands is Keep Cup. Everyone in the office has one and I often buy them for family and friends around Christmas. I think single use coffee cups are the worst! We also have Swell bottles so we don't have to buy any single use water bottles. My other favourite brand is Who Gives A Crap!. I buy all of my toilet paper from these guys. I always look for other ‘B Corps’ when I am buying any consumer goods, as I know they are all doing amazing things (Like us!).

Hester MacKinnon