Eclectic Beauty Cosmetics is one of my favorite brands that we have found through working with here on Indie Mood. Alejandra Duran, the owner, creates beautiful collections inspired by her culture and family. She is also re-opening the shop today (June 1st, 2020), and there is a huge sale! We are so excited to see what products she will launch in the future and how she expands the brand. We have a past brand review here.
A quick note: If you follow us on Instagram, you know we are doing a week of featuring black-owned brands, black creators, and charities fighting discrimination, police brutality, and racism on our feed. There is a blog post coming in the next few days with a list of resources that you can support, so please stay tuned!
Without further ado, here is the interview!
IM: What led you to opening Eclectic Beauty? How did you decide on the branding and the name?
Alejandra: The decision to start Eclectic Beauty Cosmetics started with the Ofrenda palette. During my last year of university, while getting ready to help my family set up our Day of the Dead Altar, I wondered why no one that I knew of at the time had come out with a Day of the Dead themed palette. Then I thought, maybe I can create this palette. I started researching how to start a cosmetic business and reached out to everyone I knew of who had their own small business, made their own cosmetics, or knew someone who had their own business. I started to realize that this was something that I could try to do myself. The next step was researching cosmetic chemistry and regulations around selling handmade cosmetics. The chemistry is actually one of my favorite parts of owning a beauty brand.
Naming the business was one of the hardest parts of starting Eclectic Beauty. I needed the name to give me a lot of versatility in product concepts, be something I love, and, most importantly, not already be taken. I read through the dictionary until I came across Eclectic. The “Beauty Cosmetics” came from trying to secure the domain and social media usernames.
IM: How does your culture help you create collections? For example, the Ofrenda palette!
Alejandra: If you ever go to Mexico, you will see vibrant colors everywhere. There are so many sources of inspiration there (food, history, art, architecture, locations). All of the vibrant colors of Day of the Dead altars inspired the Ofrenda palette. I made a list of some of my favorite elements and added them into the palette. Additionally, I wanted Ofrenda to be educational and show that there is so much more to Day of the Dead than just sugar skulls. So, I researched the background, history, and significance of each element that the shades are named after. I wrote about them within my Instagram posts when I was introducing each eyeshadow. A photo of my family’s ofrenda is on the cover of the palette, edited to create a more nostalgic feel.
IM: I have to know how you came up with the Birds collection as well! I love birds and the collection was beautifully done!
Alejandra: My parents inspired the Birds collection. They both enjoy going out to watch birds whenever they have free time. Plus, my dad takes the most amazing bird photos (you can see some of these photos on my Instagram). With the exception of Galah and Lilac Breasted Roller, the Bird eyeshadows are named after birds that we’ve seen in Los Angeles County.
IM: How did you formulate your lip products? You mentioned you formulated them for sensitive lips – can you expand on that process?
Alejandra: I’ve always had really sensitive skin, especially around my mouth. When formulating lip products, I try to avoid ingredients that my friends and I have shown sensitivities to. Some of these are menthol, salicylic acid, and essential oils. Additionally, I thoroughly research the function, safety, and usage instructions for each ingredient before experimenting with it in a formula. Then, while making prototypes, I test them out on myself, friends, and family members before putting them up for sale.
IM: Rose Red, your red-orange lipstick, is one of my favorite lipsticks of all time (as I am constantly DM-ing you about). Can you talk about how you formulated both the shade and the lipstick itself? You mentioned you were releasing other shades as well – can you go into how you decide what shades to create?
Alejandra: The storyteller lipsticks were probably the most difficult formulas to create. Most lipsticks are made with beeswax, which affects the structure and melting point of a lipstick bullet. Finding the right ratio and mix of waxes and oils for a vegan lipstick formula that isn’t too stiff, won’t break easily, and has a good color payoff took a lot of trial and error. The soft matte finish created another level of difficulty. I had to learn how matte formulas work, find the best ingredients that I could get my hands on to create the effect, and figure out how to integrate it into the formula.
The colors for Rose Red and Snow White came from customer demand. At the time, I only had eyeshadows in bright colors, and many customers asked me for a “wearable” lipstick. So, I had to create colors that would not only flatter a wide variety of skin tones but also be appealing to people of all ages. With those conditions, I decided to make a neutral pink and an orangey-red lipstick.
The colors are formulated from a mix of lakes (ex. Red 7, Blue 1, Yellow 5, and more), Iron Oxides, and Titanium Dioxides. Lakes have beautiful, vibrant colors, but are very sheer. Iron oxides and titanium dioxide are therefore added to the lake to adjust the final color and enhance the overall opacity. When I need help achieving a particular color, I watch youtube videos of people mixing acrylic paints. This gives me a general idea of what direction I need to go in to create the color I want. Once I have a base formula and a color mix relatively finalized, I have to find the optimal ratio of color mix to base. Too much base and the lipstick will be on the more sheer end. However, too much color mix and the formula will fall apart and break.
IM: Your Faerie Dusts are super unique products – I haven’t found a similar loose pigment. Can you speak more about what they are made of and how you formulated them?
Alejandra: The Faerie Dusts are a mix of synthetic fluorphlogopite (synthetic micas), calcium sodium borosilicate, and pigments. These are an eco friendly alternative to glitter approved by the FDA for use around the eyes and lips. I came up with Faerie Dust when I was messing around with pigments in my lab while attempting to make a pressed highlighter formula. The pressed formula failed epically, but I fell in love with how the product looked on my skin. The more I stripped down the formula, the more the faerie dust glittered. I was left with an ultra-soft, lightweight, eco-friendly glitter alternative. I decided to name the collection faerie dust because it reminded me of the faerie dust bottles that I used to collect growing up. The individual shades are named after different types of fae from various mythologies.
IM: I have seen you post a lot about selling at fairs! Can you talk more about the process and what the experience is like? How has it helped Eclectic Beauty grow?
Alejandra: It was my cousin, who owns Viva Las Calaveras, that suggested that I sell my products at local events. She pointed me in the direction of some events that she enjoyed vending at such as the Mujeres Market and urged me to apply for them. My aunt gave me my first vending opportunity, a pop-up shop that she hosts every year.
Vending at live events was a very steep learning curve for me. I had to force my introverted self to be more extroverted. I needed to learn how to communicate with customers. It took me a while to learn that collapsible wagons are the best invention ever. I also had to create a table display that was cute and eye-catching and also effectively showcased my products. (The display is constantly evolving.) Over time I learned these lessons and enhanced my communication skills. The best part of attending vending events is getting to interact with people, hear what they think of the products, and be able to tell the stories behind the products.
Live events have been essential for the growth of Eclectic Beauty. I get to expose my brand to a larger audience, I get feedback on current products and what customers would like to see from my brand in the future, and all of the money I make these events go right back into the business. This allows me to create new products and sign up for more events.
IM: What product you createdare you most proud of? What was the one that was the most difficult for you to create?
Alejandra: The product this I’m most proud of is my Ofrenda palette. As my first product, it led me to starting my own business – something that I never thought I would do. It also led me down the rabbit hole of cosmetic chemistry, and I poured my heart into its concept and creation. The product that was the most difficult for me to create was the storyteller lipstick collection. See question 5 for a full explanation of why.
IM: You shoot all your product pictures yourself, including the lip swatches, correct? Can you talk about how that works, what steps you take, and what the learning curve was like?
Alejandra: Yes, I shoot all of my own product pictures. The equipment I use are: a ring light, natural light, black, or white paper, a Canon Rebel t6i, a mirror, and an Iphone. I wanted to take pictures that most accurately represent the actual colors of the products. It took a while to get the lighting and angles right. I still have great difficulty photographing duochromes. They’re so complex and colorful in real life but they never come out the same in photography. It can be very frustrating. If I do edit the photos to adjust for color accuracy, I use the standard iPhone photo editing software. But, for the most part, I don’t edit my photos. I definitely have a lot more to learn about product photography.
IM: Is there anything specific that you would like to see happen for Eclectic Beauty? What are your future plans for Eclectic Beauty?
Alejandra: I would like Eclectic Beauty to become successful enough that I can make it my full time job and release all the products that I want to release. I have so many exciting products and collections planned. I hope to release my first large collection sometime late this year/ early next year. Once social gatherings are safe again, I would like to continue attending local vending events. In the near future (either 2021 or 2022), I would like to bring Eclectic Beauty to trade shows such as Phame, IMATS, ISSE, Indie Beauty Expo, and CosmoProf. I am really excited to see what the future holds.