I have been wanting to do a series of interviews with inspiring indie brand founders for a while now. I enjoy reading the stories behind brands and also about the people who are responsible for bringing a brand to life. Many a time, the unique stories behind a brand makes you appreciate the brand a bit more 🙂
I am happy to kick start this series with Skinzi Cosmetics! Have you been on the hunt for a liquid matte lipstick which does not flake or dry your lips out? Well you’re in luck because the founder of Skinzi Cosmetics, Barby Espiritu decided to solve that problem. A quest to find a solution to a problem most dry lip gals like myself face, resulted in a fun and cool brand! Read on to find out more about Skinzi cosmetics and Barby’s entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a bit about your background and your entrepreneurial journey that resulted in the founding of Skinzi Cosmetics
I’ve always loved makeup since I was a child. I started using bullet matte lipsticks in high school and was introduced years ago to my first liquid matte. I loved that most formulas were long lasting, but I disliked the flaking and drying effect, as well as the bare, feathery patches on my lips after eating greasy food. I immediately had to reapply to cover the weird rim that formed on my lips. I wanted a long-lasting formula that evenly faded like a traditional lipstick instead of flaking.
This lingering frustration, combined with an announcement of possible layoffs in a career that I love (and have been doing for almost a decade) made me rethink the skills that I could offer others.I had worked as a Quality Engineer for years when my company announced a possible layoff. After soul searching to explore my passions, cosmetics was the obvious answer. I started looking for chemists here in the United States to help me formulate a better matte lipstick than what I was used to. That’s how Skinzi got started.
Is there a story behind the name Skinzi?
I was thinking of calling the company ‘Reach Cosmetics’ but my partner said it sounded more like a grooming product for men. My partner then suggested ‘Skinzi.’ We felt it sounded hip and fun, and those two traits embody our brand.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced while bringing your brand to the market?
The biggest obstacle was finding the right team of chemists to formulate the product. I researched custom lipstick formulation. The easier path, called private labeling, would be to use an existing formula and attach my brand to it. However, I felt my customers deserved more from me, so I chose the more challenging path and decided to formulate my own matte liquid lipstick.
I cold-called and interviewed one lab after another until I found one that was FDA approved, ISO/GMP certified and licensed by the California Department of Public Health for cosmetic manufacturing. I met with them to discuss my long list of requirements for what I thought an ideal liquid matte lipstick should be. After obsessive testing and retesting, they were able to deliver on every single requirement on my list.
Favorite part of your current job as the founder of Skinzi
I enjoy engaging with our customers and hearing valuable feedback about our formula. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback so far. I’m also a firm believer in continuous improvement. Even if we tested the heck out of our lipstick formula, if there would be any more suggestions to improve it, I would be all ears. I’m always looking for opportunities to make a better product.
What was the best and worst advice you received when you were working on bringing Skinzi Cosmetics to the market?
The best advice was to make sure we can clearly articulate the problem we’re trying to solve (flaking matte lipsticks) and communicate to our customers how our product solves that problem.
The worst advice was to look for an existing lipstick formula and just slap the Skinzi brand on it. I wanted my own custom made, proprietary formula and while it took some time to get there, it was totally worth it.
Tell us a bit more about the Beyond Beauty Project on your website
Women are multi-faceted. While our outward beauty is visible to the eye, we are not limited to physical aspects. Women in this day and age have a unique set of personal and cultural attributes.
The Beyond Beauty Project gives us a way to delve into these, as well as celebrating our strengths and understanding our challenges. We explore what it is to be modern day women. We celebrate our womanhood in ways to learn from and support each other.
Which is your favorite shade from Skinzi Cosmetics current range of lipsticks?
My favorites happen to be our best sellers. Just Jazzy is a neutral medium berry shade and Morning Love, a terracotta nude. Funny enough, our customers who purchase Just Jazzy are likely to buy Morning Love. It’s as if they were somehow meant to be paired up! 🙂
How did you go about deciding which type of shades to release first? (I love the fact that they are all everyday wearable shades with a special red thrown in!)
I was looking for a versatile range of everyday colors that would complement any skin tone. I also put myself in the shoes of my customers, recognizing their diverse lifestyles and picking shades that would be suitable, based on their typical daily activities.
I then researched the various shades, utilizing the Pantone color guide, before deciding on our final four.
What beauty trends do you think will be big this year?
Most fashion and cosmetic trends are cyclical in nature. I’m definitely seeing a lot of corals early this year and I think they’ll continue to grow in popularity.
I’m continuing to see an increased focus on vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, products that are free of parabens, phthalates and sulfates. I think this trend will continue. Consumers don’t just want to look good; they also want to know that what they’re putting on their skin is safe, responsibly manufactured and a good value.
Will there be more product launches coming up this year from Skinzi?
Absolutely. I have already hand-picked and swatched the next set of beautiful shades of our liquid matte formulas, so watch out for those!
I hope you guys enjoyed getting to know the story behind Skinzi cosmetics and the lovely founder Barby! Stay tuned for a review and swatches of the Skinzi Cosmetics matte liquid lipsticks coming soon! Meanwhile check out Skinzi on Instagram and on their website.