Career Profiles

Tran Wills: The Mom Working Hard to Disrupt the Nail Industry


You avoid harmful chemicals in your food and skincare products, so why put them on your nails?

This is what Tran Wills sought to answer when she founded her non-toxic nail salon, Base Coat. At Base Coat, everything that goes on your nails — from the base to the top coat — is plant-based and free of toxins. Expecting moms no longer have to put their nail appointments on hold during pregnancy, and everyone can start having higher expectations for their nail products.

Tran explained how she started her own business, why she decided to take the leap and start Base Coat, and the best parenting advice she’s ever received.


Name: Tran Wills, Founder of Base Coat
Age: 37
Location: Denver, Colorado
Education: High School
Children: Noah, 19, Quynh, 16, Ellie, 13, and Hesh, 8



What advice do you have for women hoping to take the leap into starting their own companies and businesses?  


Do a lot of research about what you are wanting to do, and most importantly find a mentor that you really admire. Do not be afraid to reach out to them even if you have never met them; they all have been in your shoes at one point in time.


After realizing first-hand the dangerous effects of nail salons as a third-trimester pregnant woman, you decided to open your own, non-toxic nail salon, Base Coat. How did you go about doing that?


Opening Base Coat Nail Salon took a lot of research, learning, and trial and error. I grew up in the nail salon industry, as it was a big part of my Vietnamese culture. My mom, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins all are licensed nail technicians or have owned their own nail salons at one time.



What’s unique about Base Coat as compared to other nail salons, and what should all moms-to-be know about toxic/non-toxic beauty treatments?


Everything you put on your skin or nails is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. Be aware of everything you put on your skin. All of our products and services are non-toxic.



Do your kids appreciate art and fashion to the degree that you do? What advice do you have for moms trying to instill a love of the beautiful and artful in their children?


All of my kids have different personalities, but they are creative in their own ways. I always encourage them to do what makes them happy and let them discover for themselves what creative outlet they will take.

My oldest son, Noah, is pursuing his career in Music Production – something he has been passionately working hard at since he was 15, and he has not stopped since. He played his first show in NYC in November, and it was amazing for us as parents to watch him go out there and be himself, even though he is still so young. He has so much courage and determination. I would have been terrified! He also went to NYC so that he can start making connections and learn from people who have made a career in the music industry. He understands that this industry is a bit tough, but he knows it will not be handed to him. Noah realizes it will take a lot of trial and error and some heartbreak, but at the end of the day, if he’s happy and continues to work hard to pursue a career he is passionate about and loves, that is all you can ask for.

You just want them to be happy! As a parent, you just need to love and support your children 100%, but it’s also important to give them room to learn and fail on their own, too.



How do you continue to balance being an entrepreneur and business owner with your life as a mom?


I am surrounded by an amazing support team. Our children are great. They are so responsible and really help out around the house. They cook, they help each other with homework, and they know I’m working hard for their future.


As a parent, you just need to love and support your children 100%, but it’s also important to give them room to learn and fail on their own, too.


How do you and Josh divide parenting roles? And how has parenthood affected your marriage?


Josh, my husband, is amazing. He helps with cooking, cleaning, baths, etc. We tag team everything. He is one of the founders of a design agency called Consume & Create. He is just as busy as I am, as we both have such huge roles in our businesses. We couldn’t do it without each other, and it’s the reason for both of our successes.


What skills from owning your businesses translate to motherhood? Vice versa?


Learning to be disciplined with your time and how to navigate both worlds with patience. Work/life balance does not exist when you are an entrepreneur and have a family. Some days your family will need you more, and some days your business will. Handle what is most important at that moment. Anything else less urgent can wait.



Take us through your typical day.


There is no typical day for me. I am always on the run, as I’m a full-time founder and full-time mom!


5 am – Eyes open and I look at my phone for about 15 minutes to read headline news for the day, checking emails and answering any high priority messages. Then I start getting ready for the day before we wake the kids up at 6 am.


6 am – Get the kids ready for the morning. Pack breakfast and lunches, and get them out the door by 6:30 am for the first drop off by 7:30 am, then 2 more drop-offs after. Having three kids at three different schools presents a long day on its own, with drop off and pick up logistics.


If it’s a workout day, I have to meet my personal trainer Jeff Vaden at Dynamic Fitness Co by 7 am, to work out for an hour. This has all been very foreign to me, and I’m still getting used to it! I have never worked out a day in my life before recently – it has been super challenging, but also humbling, as I really didn’t think I would last a day. It made me realize I am a lot stronger than I think I am, and that my goal to be healthier is no longer unrealistic.


After the kids have been dropped off, I try to stop at my favorite coffee shop and grab breakfast, then head to the office to meet with my Administrative Assistant and lead nail techs. Recently I’ve been hopping on a plane a lot because of our new Nordstrom partnership. My co-founder, Sarah Simon, and I will always be very hands-on owners, regardless of how big we get. It’s just in our nature.


If I’m not traveling, after picking up the kids, my husband and I try to be home around 5 pm to make dinner and eat by 6:30 pm. Thankfully my husband is the chef of the household, and I am the most amazing sous chef 😉 .  During this time, all the kids are doing homework and I am doing laundry, tidying up the house and helping Josh with dinner. After dinner we chill as a family, which typically means a movie. We are a big movie family, and it’s our favorite thing to do together!


After the kids are in bed (around 8:30pm-9pm), Josh and I try to spend the rest of the night together, talking about our day and watching the news or Jimmy Fallon. We are usually passed out before 11 pm. This used to be a lot later, but we are trying to be better at really cutting off working late on our computers – which sometimes would be as late as 1 am. We also instituted a new no-computer rule in our bedroom. We are really trying to create boundaries with work and life, but it’s still a work in progress when you are running your own business. It’s not the typical 9-5.


Since our family is so crazy busy every day, we really try to keep our home life as chill as possible. Josh and I also go on a once-a-week date night. After 20 years, this is still very important for us and we look forward to it every week.


How do your kids inspire you?


They inspire me to always be grounded, live for the moment, and put 110 percent into everything I do.


What’s been your favorite moment from motherhood so far?


Watching these little humans growing up into these awesome characters. They surprise me every day.



Tran Wills is The Everymom…

Favorite treatment at Base Coat? The Luxe Coat Pedi is my favorite when I have time to #treatmyself. It is so dry in Colorado, so when I can, I get this service once a month to put moisture back in my dry feet.

Best way to end a long day? A nice dinner with the family and bedtime stories are my favorite!

Favorite brunch place in Denver? The Universal.

Favorite all-family activity? Going to the movies and the Hot Springs for quick weekend trips.

Best mom advice you received? Do the best you can. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can try.