I think most of us who are in the indie beauty sphere, particularly for the makeup, have heard of Devinah Cosmetics. They have a beautiful range of matte and shimmer eyeshadows, as well as face products of all kinds. One of my all-time favorite collections from them was their Xploders Collection.
The brand’s creativity knows no bounds, and their collections are always inspired by something that, in my opinion, is clearly reflected in the collection itself. Another of my favorites, the Spartacus collection, is a prime example of this.
We had the chance to ask the owner of Devinah Cosmetics, DeAndra DeArmas, a few questions about what it is like to run Devinah, and we are so happy to be able to share them with you all!
*This post is not sponsored, but we do have an affiliate code with Devinah Cosmetics if you would like to purchase from them. Use code INDIEMOOD for 20% off!
IM: What inspired you to start Devinah Cosmetics?
DeAndra: I was tired of spending so much money on MAC eyeshadows that, back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, were super pricey yet so lackluster in pigmentation. I had hit pan on several fan favorites and was dreading the day that I would have to go back to the MAC store and replenish my shades. So, I started to research and dabble into handcrafting my own shadows.
I spent several years playing with different raw materials and ingredients. Read tons and tons of collected research from many different sources. After a few years of testing, I finally found a formula that worked well for myself and a few friends for our skin types and skin tones, and Devinah was born! Fun fact – Devinah is pronounced “Duh-vee-na” and is the name that I would have wanted for a baby girl. Instead, I birthed two beautiful healthy baby boys, lol! So I felt that it was just fitting to be able to name the brand after the girl that I had hoped for!
IM: What was the most difficult part of starting Devinah?
DeAndra: Capital. That was the hardest part of starting out. Devinah Cosmetics was started with just 11 colors of eyeshadows and they were all shimmers. I was still finalizing the formula of the mattes when Devinah was launched in October of 2015. A fully 100% independent brand funded solely by my personal income. Starting small was the only way to go. We had launched on Etsy and within one year, moved over to a larger platform to handle our growing line. The second hardest part of starting Devinah was marketing. We started on Instagram only and worked so hard every day to take pictures of our products and post to put our name and brand out there.
IM: How did you develop your current branding? For example, the way you swatch your products and label your photos on Instagram (which I love!).
DeAndra: Geez… this is still a learning curve. We have developed better skills and continue to change our style from where it was on day 1. It is almost like a nonstop whirling spin of learning what works and what doesn’t work. We also look at other brands in our industry and try to set ourselves apart from them so that our work is noticeable and recognizable even without seeing our Instagram handle when posts are reshared.
We try to be as unique as possible with everything we do: marketing our product, photos, website, and even naming our products. I do admit, we pick some wild names that are VERY hard to pronounce. But we do it for a reason – to bring attention to new unusual words with beautiful unique meanings behind them. Try looking up what some of the names mean -you’ll find some words whose meanings are so cool!
IM: Y’all come up with beautiful color stories and collections. Where do you find inspiration for them?
DeAndra: The color stories and collections vary. Sometimes it could be a name that comes to mind that I build a color story off of, other times it is an TV series or episode that gives me inspiration!
For instance, we just curated a 6 shade color story called Baby’s Breath that we posted on Instagram for fun. I was thinking of the flowers baby’s breath to use for a valentines day photo and immediately thought, “oh, I need to grab some colors together inspired by different weddings I was in as a flower girl and wore crowns of baby’s breath in my hair.” So sometimes it’s simple little thoughts like that that give me inspiration. Another example was watching the popular TV show Sparticus, which inspired the Spartacus bundle in which we named all the shades after characters within the show. This mind of mine never stops – the hamster is always running on the wheel! LOL!
IM: What is your favorite collection that you’ve created? What is your favorite product?
DeAndra: My favorite product is my contour shade Dosne and our bronzers. I can wear some mascara and dust a little Dosne on my face and feel ready for the day – no shadows, no foundation. My favorite collection would have to be Eternal Night. It has all of the best cool-toned shades that form a gradient from white to black with a little twist. We did a soft release of that collection with hardly any marketing and it actually sells very well. I had no clue that there were so many folks interested in such a color story, it’s amazing!
IM: What does the development process for a product look like from conception to creation to release?
DeAndra: There is a lot of trial and error. Lots of mixing and testing that can take from 4-16 weeks at times. When ideas come to mind, we have a journal in our studio where we jot down our ideas for colors or formula textures and then we get to work on creating. Once we are happy with the product we test it on ourselves by wearing for 10 hours a day at the least and for 5-6 weeks.
IM: How does social media play into how you run your business?
DeAndra: We try our best to make social media the most cultivated aspect of our brand. We feel it is extremely important to provide a presence on our social platforms. Engaging with our supporters is #1 on our list; it feels good when a brand responds enthusiastically from a consumers standpoint, we totally get it. That is what we try to provide in order to build a rapport with our supporters so that they “get to know” who it is that they are supporting. We want them to know that we care about them just as much as they care about us. It is important to us and has been since the beginning.
IM: What are some growing pains that you have experienced and how have you overcome them?
DeAndra: There are definitely some growing pains when owning a brand. Days are long, nights are short. Some holidays are missed due to brand sales. But that all is part of the business. We have learned to adapt.
IM: What is one of the hardest parts of the day to day for Devinah? What is one of the best parts?
DeAndra: The hardest part is wearing the hat of the shipper, the maker, the mixer, the presser, the marketer, the photographer, the packager, the email responder, the social media poster, and then being the wife and mom after all that is taken care of…phew!
The best part? All of it. When you love what you do, you feel like you don’t work a day at all! We truly love what we do, we love our brand and are dedicated to supplying our supporters with beautiful artisan products. (But seriously, I looooooove being on Instagram and engaging.)
IM: Where do you see Devinah going in the future?
DeAndra: Devinah is a true hand made artisan brand. Our raw materials are mixed, blended, ground, poured, and pressed all by hand. We may be just one of few small indie brands left that still and will continue to hand-press our powder products by hand. The way we see it is that if we stay true to being artisan and not using heavy machine press equipment, we can then grow as a brand and provide jobs within our community.
Think of Devinah as being similar to the brand Lush – you know, where all bath bombs are made by their employees? That’s where I would love to take Devinah – to be that brand to be a staple in its physical community and support its residents by offering jobs. Plus provide the high-quality cruelty-free makeup that many have grown to love!
Thank you so much to DeAndra for agreeing to this interview! They are currently working on a late February 2020 release to celebrate their recent move, so keep an eye out!
We would love to continue interviewing the makers in this wonderful community – let us know who you want us to interview next in the comments or on Instagram!