June 29th, 2020
Cult indie brand Depixym create and sell Cosmetic Emulsions. This is a real multi-use product. It can be an eyeshadow, blusher, lipcolour, lip or eyeliner. It also perfect for more creative looks – it’s waterproof, long-wearing and non-transfer so is brilliant for face paint or body paint creators – and ideal for festival or carnival designs. Available in 20 shades – from monochromes through neutrals to brights – you can also mix them together like oilpaints to create the unique, custom colour to suit your mood or design. They really should be a staple in any MUA kit.
As this month marks the brand’s first birthday, we thought we’d catch up with founders Victoria Feebery and Alice Rhodes for a chat about how they got to where they are and what’s next.
You had both worked in the beauty industry for over 25 years, with brands such as Boots, No7, Sleek, Soap & Glory, Next and Olay. What brought you into beauty as a career in the first place and what made you move from secure corporate roles to starting your own brand?
Beauty is just everything to us. We love it & live it. Both of our careers before had brief dalliances in other areas but nothing sets our souls on fire (sorry, that’s cheesy!) like the beauty industry does.
Both of us arrived in the industry kind of accidentally! Our first jobs in beauty were with major corporates (Vic started at Procter & Gamble and Al with Boots). We both loved product and wanted to see what development was like, but we both never imagined a) how much went into it, b) what a massive industry (especially when you look down the supply chains) it was or c) that we’d be as obsessed with it as we were and that we’d end up launching our own a brand! It still doesn’t feel real sometimes.
We met at Boots where we worked together sourcing Boots own brand cosmetic ranges (No7, Soap & Glory, Sleek, Seventeen, Natural Collection etc) and in the end it just felt right to do it for ourselves. We had each other to hold onto while we jumped which helped too!!!
We never really fitted in to the corporate world. We were always outspoken and not fans of the BS and politics that came with corporate life. We loved the people we worked with, but wanted to do something that we believed in, without death by Powerpoint and a 2 year development time. We wanted to be able to move fast & make decisions, something that you can’t often do in big corporates. We just had this epiphany that maybe we could break out and do it for ourselves… and from then on we literally never looked back. You know when you can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it that it’s right. Neither of us would want to do anything else. Don’t get us wrong, it’s hard work & takes a lot of time & energy but its so so worth it when you are so passionate about it. It doesn’t usually feel like “work”!
What were the first steps to setting up your range and what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Honestly, the starting point was all of the shit that was and still is, wrong in the beauty landscape. The fact that 90% of ads are skinny, pretty white women that nobody really looks like. That the industry so often tells you that you’ve got to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. We don’t believe that, we think that everyone is amazing & they don’t need to be told what to do, or wear or be. We wanted to empower people with Depixym & give them true freedom. To create, to play & to be. That’s the key, to find something that needs to be different. We’d seen a lot of brands starting to talk inclusivity, but it always seemed like a marketing plot rather than something really built into their DNA.
We also knew from being on the inside of several major brands that often products are rebadged or tweaked, then remarketed to give the consumer something new and exciting, which we know people love but couldn’t help feeling it was just encouraging them to buy more stuff they didn’t need. We wanted to do something different that wasn’t driven by % profit margins, but was actually driven by wanting to put a product out there that was truly different and do our bit to try and make the world slightly more inclusive.
In terms of advice, there are the practical things like money, time, a solid idea etc. Make sure you know your point of difference, what is it that sets you apart from everyone else on the market/in the world? Why would someone want your product/ idea over everything else there is?
Also, don’t overthink it. Obviously, don’t just go into it willy nilly, but some of the best ideas are the ones that just come to you. If you believe in it & are passionate, that will show & the rest will follow. We earn a hell of a lot less than we ever have before, but are happier than we ever have been. Don’t hold back because you may not have as much salary as before (as long as you can still pay your bills!) because we’ve found that once you love what you do and look forward to going to work every day, you tend to spend less on other stuff as you don’t need to buy things to make yourself happy.
What was the scariest point on your self-funded start up journey? What’s been the highlight?
Scariest always comes down to money. We have fully self-funded Depixym as we knew what we were doing wasn’t the fastest way to make money, so wanted to make sure while we established at least we weren’t answerable to an investor or a board who may take a dim view as to why we refuse to use paid influencers or airbrush images to make them more ‘commercial’. It’s been rewarding to know we built it from scratch but it’s also stressful as hell and there have been so many times (some very recently, Miss Rona who invited you to the party?!) that we’ve not been sure if we’re gunna make it through the next few months as we sometimes (often) live hand to mouth. We’d love to launch more products & pay more creators & do so much more, but we just don’t have the budget like the big brands, so we have to be patient and hold our nerve, hoping we can scale fast enough to get all our exciting new launch ideas in development soon!!
Highlight, singular? There have been so so many. We’ve been used on Dua Lipa, on the cover of Vogue Arabia, by absolutely incredible MUAs like Katie Jane Hughes, Lisa Eldridge, Michael Brooks, Wendy Asumada… we personally see each and every post our brand is tagged in and it never fails to bring a butterfly to our stomachs. That “oh my god we don’t even know this person and they’re using our products!!!” moment ? Also our launch in Guru MakeUp Emporium was an incredible night to be fair.
Is that cheating? Have we said too many?!
Who were your early makeup or artistic influences, and who influences you now?
We’re pretty different in these as grew up hundreds of miles and a decade or so apart so we’ll answer these separately!
Alice: My early makeup influences have always been my family. We’re a family of mainly women (girl power – woo!) and my Mum, my Grandma, my Auntie… they’ve all always worn makeup & I always wanted to be glam like them as a kid. I was close to my cousins growing up too & I spent a lot of time with them. I found my own style because they all had theirs, which was lovely. In terms of who influences me now, I mean, Instagram has so so many incredible artists. Every single person that uses Cosmetic Emulsions to create incredible looks, the artists we post, my sister is so creative & often does looks I wanna copy haha! (soz Cass). I also love Drag, I don’t do drag makeup myself, but I am in awe of Drag Queens & their creativity! People like Crystal Method, Monet Xchange, Trixie Mattel, Shea Coulee… they are trailblazers and are them, fearlessly. I love people that are just them unapologetically, because why apologize for being incredible?!
Vic: My make up has always been pretty simple really! My main driver was a fascination with beauty products. I remember being a kid in the back of the car with my parents driving past the Max Factor offices just outside London and seeing through the window thinking “wow, I want to work somewhere like that one day”…
What are your first make up memories?
Alice: I had one of those doll heads that comes with the really bright palette of creams. I used to love it (I’m sure Mum did too – I got it in the carpet a fair few times – sorry Mum!). I also used to have those little rollerball lip glosses that smelled very sweet & I was obsessed with them. I had a fair few makeup fails (dream matte mousse anyone?) before I honed my skills haha!
Vic: I remember my mum had a solid cake eyeliner (not because it was fashion but because pencils weren’t really a thing back then!) and I loved watching her use it then seeing the faces she pulled when applying mascara. In fact I still have the original cake eyeliner in a memory box somewhere! (don’t think she knows that either and now I say it out loud I realise how weird it is, haha).
What are the first products you remember using as teenagers, and has this affected your later product choices?
Alice: Dream matte mousse, applied terribly, with way too much blusher. I think that scarred me & now I like my skin to look dewy & more natural. I think that heavily airbrushed images had a massive impact on me for so long. I was always worried that my skin didn’t look smooth enough, my jawline wasn’t defined enough, my eyebrows looked weird, the list goes on. I have definitely developed a much healthier relationship with my image since we started Depixym. Like, fuck looking like everyone else & being self-conscious all of the time. Be YOU & own that! Life’s too short to worry about whether you look weird on a photo.
In terms of my product choices, I try to support smaller businesses & ethical businesses. I don’t really buy into expensive brands because I know how it’s all made. If it does a good job, it works for me. That’s about as complicated as it gets.
Vic: I was of the “Rimmel Heather Shimmer” era, but never liked following the crowd exactly, so as not to be too different I still went with Rimmel but opted for the lesser known “Almond Macaroon” shade instead. That and a cobalt blue waterline. Much like Al though, as soon as I started working in product development I soon realized that so many of the products out there are all the same formulation, just in different colours and different packaging. It kind of burst the bubble for me and freed me up to buy and use products which worked for me, rather than buying into what I thought the brand said about me.
You’re refreshingly matter of fact “No positioning, no gender, no rules, no bullshit”. A year in, has this been a help or a hindrance in getting exposure and coverage?
Thank you! We’ve had a really positive response so far, which has been incredible. This is all so new to us, we’re product development mainly so it’s been so different trying to figure out the world of marketing.
By creating an open, non-judgemental space we’ve been so excited to see a diverse mix of people using our products, many of whom have been kind enough to allow us to share their art which has been amazing because as a self-funded start up finding budgets to pay for PR and compete with the bottomless pockets of the big players is the biggest struggle. If you have a look at the tagged images on our Instagram page, you’ll see an incredible array of artists and styles.
For us, as long as we’re having a positive impact on people, we’re happy. It’s literally just about that. Empowering people & making sure everyone knows it’s okay to be them. Live their truth. We’re here for it.
Within six months of launching you were already being featured on runways and were picked up by influencers. You’re also being used by high profile MUAs such as Lisa Eldridge and Katie Jane Hughes. Did you imagine you’d come so far so quickly?
No freaking way! It’s been unreal! We still can’t actually believe it. We never in a million years imagined that such incredible artists would use Cosmetic Emulsions & love them in such a short space of time from launch. We could not be happier.
At the moment you have one (absolutely brilliant) product. As it is so versatile do you think you will develop others or will you continue to refine the Cosmetic Emulsion and keep expanding the colour range?
We have a very long list of other products that we’d love to develop & launch. We’re just waiting to have enough budget behind us to launch as everything we do is produced to the highest standard with industry leading labs and partners, so it’s not cheap, but for us we do it 100% or we don’t do it.
In terms of expanding the colour range, that’s definitely something that we’ll do as we grow. We basically want to get to B&Q level when you got to pick paint from that massive colour wall. Can you imagine how incredible that would be?!
Obviously things are challenging for the industry at the moment with the current global situation, but what are your future plans for the brand? Are there any collaborations on the horizon or any clients you’d like to see your products being used on?
In terms of future aspirations, we’d love to be truly global, available everywhere. So if there any retailers reading this that wanna talk to us – hit us up! We’re always up for a convo!
We’d love to make a real change in the industry, as much as we love it, there is a lot that needs to change. We’d love to see more inclusivity, less waste, more gender neutral products, more empowerment to name a few. As cheesy as it sounds, we just want to make the world a better place.
In terms of who we’d like to see our products being used on, we’d love them to be used on everyone. You, yeah, you reading this right now. We wanna see it on you & we want you to own that shit. You’re incredible.
Thanks Alice and Vic for your honest and in-depth answers. Happy Birthday Depixym! Here’s to another great year for you.
Depixym have an MUA PROgramme, to support the pro community. Any artist can just send them a couple of pieces of ID to show they use the products for their trade and then get 25% off any Depixym products (excluding kits and brands except Depixym) direct on depixym.
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