November 12th, 2014
When we got word of a brand-spanking new British beauty brand, our ears pricked up instantly. From the simple yet elegant brand name, delilah, to the stunning products themselves – all sleek and chrome and rose gold – we were hooked. Warpaint chatted with one of delilah’s co-founders, MUA Rupert Kingston, who was already an expert at launching products having previously been Creative Director at New CID Cosmetics.
WP: What initially inspired you to work with make-up? What prompted that decision?
RK: I came from a painting and drawing background and was really inspired by theatrical make-up very early on. For a GCSE Art project I wanted to do some body painting, so I took a trip up to London to visit ScreenFace. Walking into that little shop in Notting Hill was just inspiring. I bought some water-based body paint and a bruise wheel, and from then on pursued a career in make-up.
WP: Were you formally trained?
RK: Yes, I trained at the London College of Fashion. It was really one of the only make-up courses in Europe back in the early ‘90s. It was notoriously difficult to get onto the course, but they really liked applicants who had a strong art portfolio. I had spent the last couple of years making alginate face casts of my friends and as a teenager had worked in a hairdressing salon, so I think that all stood me in good stead.
WP: Do you remember what your first job was?
RK: I did a short stint at The Bill for Thames Television in Wimbledon. On my very first day the make-up manager asked me to paint someone’s nails and I made a real mess of it. TV really wasn’t for me.
WP: Do you think it’s more difficult to get into the industry now? With beauty bloggers and self-taught artists, as well as the expectation of working for free to gain experience, have you noticed a shift in the industry over the years?
RK: It has always been difficult to make a living doing make-up; working for free just seems to come with the territory, getting paid is the tricky bit. When I first started as a make-up artist it really didn’t have the exposure that it has now, there weren’t many well known MUAs at all. So I suppose there are more people wanting to get into the industry than ever before. But I also think that there are more opportunities out there. The internet is such a great resource for learning and inspiration, I think it is amazing. I used to have to spend a fortune on glossy magazines to find images that I loved, these days it’s so much more accessible.
WP: How did delilah cosmetics come about?
RK: I had been working as a Creative Director for a while doing brand and product development and had worked with one of the other Directors at delilah, Hannah Nicholson (a former beauty buyer, who specialised in product development), for years and we shared a vision of a luxury British colour cosmetics brand. It was at a trade show in Las Vegas that we decided to take the plunge and go for it, when photographer Juliet White came on board. It was her drive and passion for detail that helped to really complete the concept for delilah. We loved the idea that you could really elevate the packaging so that the products looked and felt gorgeous. We were inspired by the timeless beauty of the old fashioned compacts and lipsticks, products that looked and felt precious. The look and feel of that brand came very quickly, we all shared this ideal of a simplistic approach to colour and an absolute desire to create formulations that really perform.
WP: Where did the name and the branding inspiration come from?
RK: The direct translation for delilah is ‘seductive and beguiling’ – we loved the idea that the name would encapsulate that attitude of feeling empowered by feeling beautiful. Our logo is the delilah rose, a true symbol of British beauty. In fact we are very proud to be a British brand and there are very subtle nods to our British heritage: the pewter colour that runs through the brand was inspired by a material called Britannia Metal, while rose gold was introduced into England by King Henry VIII to replace the gold sovereign. The two colours look timelessly beautiful together, giving the whole brand an understated, luxurious feel.
WP: Which products are your favourites?
RK: It’s difficult to choose: I love the matt bronzers, they have a beautiful velvet finish to them and the compacts are just gorgeous, but I really love our Farewell Cream Concealer. It has such great coverage yet feels smooth and nourishing under the eye; it is quickly becoming our hero product!
WP: With the industry worth more and more every year, how daunting was it to bring a new brand to market?
RK: There is no doubt that during the development years there were many people (mainly bank managers) who thought that it was a crazy idea launching into such a competitive market, but we had a few things on our side. Firstly, we have a lot of experience in the industry in both the commercial and the product development sides. Secondly, the market has changed; customers want to find something unique, something nobody else has got. Smaller boutique brands are doing very well at the moment, and there is something reassuring about products that are not made en masse, that are not found in every department store. The delilah customer knows quality when they see it, is not obsessed with designer labels or fads and trends. This shift in customers’ expectations has given us an opportunity to stand out in a very overcrowded market.
WP: Do you have any kit saviours, from delilah or other brands?
RK: I am really into colour correctors at the moment, especially for under the eye. I have found that sometimes all you need is the right one and you don’t even need concealer – so many people get this wrong. Our Farewell Colour Corrector in Peach is perfect for this. I always carry a light moisturiser in my kit and at the moment I really love the Total Hydrating Bi-Gel by a Spanish brand called Anubis. It’s really hydrating but it doesn’t seem to leave any emollients on the skin, perfect for pre-make-up moisturising.
WP: If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
RK: Everything I have done in my career has somehow lead to this point. As a make-up artist you go through many phases, and you are forced to do work that you don’t want to do, but you learn every time. It is good to know what your limitations are, but everything you have learned – good and bad – will suddenly become relevant, no matter how random it seems. I would tell myself that it is all part of the plan.
WP: What do you plan, or hope, the next 12 months holds for delilah?
RK: We plan to continue with our launch. We will stay a new brand for a long time; it takes time to get your products recognised. I know some great brands that have been around for years and still nobody has heard of them. I hope that people continue to try our products and fall in love with them. We get so excited when a customer gets in touch to tell us how delighted they are that they purchased delilah.