October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we were honored to interview the owners of Doubledown Cosmetics – Kristen and Marvin Speller. The work that they do for their local community and domestic violence survivors is immeasurable. As well as being brand owners, Kristen is an award winning musician and philanthropist, and her husband Marvin is a producer as well as an activist and philanthropist himself.
Doubledown Cosmetic’s newest collection, the Phoenix, pays homage to Kristen + Marvin’s personal journey: a decade ago Kristen left a violent and abusive relationship with her ex-husband that caused her to go into hiding. Her first song after her escape was called “Phoenix Rising Up”. This collection of stunning, fiery eyeshadows marks the 11 year anniversary of the beginning of a new life after rising from the ashes of the past.
Doubledown Cosmetics products and collections are not only 100% natural mineral makeup, but also support domestic violence organizations. They team up regularly with amazing beauty bloggers like Medeaij, Dolled Up Luxe, and Delaney Kalea to curate beautiful and unique collections. Although these are made with only natural ingredients and non-toxic, they’re packed with pigment, long lasting, and all around stunning.
We wanted to learn more about these two amazing people and their journey, so here is our Q&A with the owners of Doubledown Cosmetics:
IM: What inspired you to start your own beauty brand in 2017? How did this idea come about and what pushed you to execute it?
K: As a survivor of Domestic Violence and having dealt with significant neurological trauma, I wanted to start a brand that was non-toxic due to the effects that chemically laden filled makeup was having on my internal system. I thought to myself “I’m reinjuring my body, everytime I put on makeup.” It bothered me and I wanted to create something initially for victims & survivors to use, that was non-toxic and essentially, expand this globally.
M: I really pushed my wife to execute this, because this was her dream. She lived, breathed and slept makeup. I could see the fire in her eyes whenever she talked about it and how she had this vision from many years earlier. I told her that we needed a product and we created our first makeup bag “Starts With Foundation” which is an ode to her beginning as it relates to our mission.
IM: You two have an incredible bond, both as a husband and wife, but also as business partners. How does this strong relationship contribute to your makeup brand and musical ventures?
K: Thank you kindly. I love my husband with every ounce of my being and trust him emphatically. There are many people who have asked us to be partners and I won’t do it. My husband is an EXCELLENT business man and we are able to talk about anything. Even when conversations are hard, which they can be, especially about business. But he is very gentle and helps me in so many ways. I’m learning on how to be a better business person, as a linear thinker. He has contributed greatly to this aspect of my life. And we just work. We fit. It’s love.
M: My wife is my rock, my best friend. There is no one else that I would do business with. She is 100% trustworthy, always has my back and her love for me is something I’ve never seen anywhere. That is what I wanted in a business partner and she is the best person and cares for people. That is what makes her so great. Her kindness and her heart translates into business and what she does.
IM: On a large scale, domestic violence affects men as victims, as well as advocates for survivors. Marvin, can you talk about your perspective as an advocate for this cause?
K: He will answer this.
M: Certainly. This is an issue that is statistically reported more in violence against women. A lot of men do not want to come out and share. Men in general often have a hard time sharing their emotional side. I also believe that men have to step up when it comes to community support to be a part of the solution. My thinking is that far too often women are so inflicted, that it’s rare that we see men on the news being abused. Men need the resources as well, since we are seeing more men in shelters in The San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA.
IM: It’s been 10 years since that giant leap of faith, and your rebirth as the fiery phoenix that both of you are. What does it feel like today, looking back at that time?
K: Wow. It certainly has been a long time. Looking back I often cannot believe that I was a victim of violent crime and attempted murder by strangulation, as well as several times being beaten and having to go to work with wounds on my body, covered up by makeup. Last week I thought about this when I was getting ready for bed. I thought to myself as I was in tears “how wonderful is it, that I am able to go to bed and not worry about being abused, hurt or killed.” It was very real to me as I pondered this in my home office. And I looked over at my husband as he was sleeping and I just said “thank you.”
M: I want to continue to make an impact with women when it comes to disadvantaged situations. I come from a standpoint of advocacy and will continue to help women live to their up to their vast potential. When I look at a Phoenix rising up from the ashes, it’s a work in progress for me. My wife has done the most eloquent job in becoming a Phoenix. We rise together.
IM: How do you bring this experience of strength and rebirth into your beauty brand?
K: The strength of our brand through this experience is empathy. I can relate to a content creator when he or she reaches out and says “I’ve been abused or I’m being abused.” And when they tell us that all that they have is makeup, there is something inside my soul that knows this is more than just “a brand.” Makeup is power. It’s powerful. I also know that the vehicle of social media through the beauty space has been convoluted. Before brands were attaching themselves to causes, we were doing it before most, privately. I also feel that due to “social media numbers etc. likes and comments” this became a “cool” thing to do. I’m not into “cool.” I’m into what is right and doing right by people and the community.
The rebirth comes from knowing that we are community philanthropists and we were this before the brand started. This is our mission. We are on a mission to create, elevating the community to rise with us.
M: As a Health, Life, and Trauma Coach, I come from a wellness background. I saw what my wife went through when she was using chemicals on her face and how it affected her neurologically. Our mission is to build a community of wellness through our products, our background, our leadership and our philanthropic efforts in the community.
IM: Could you talk about the work you do for the community? What can others do to support and help domestic violence survivors?
K: Through our new non-profit, From Here to There, and prior to this, we have taken our community in many senses from “here to there.” We answer calls on a weekly basis that come through for shelter and police assistance. We have volunteered to be court buddies, been liaisons to assist with pro-bono attorneys for restraining orders, filing court documents for divorce, & helping with credit card & financial assistance for survivors. Our main program for the past 7 years has been The Glam UP Program, which we provide free makeovers to any victim or survivor in Los Angeles, CA.
M: Our work really consists of many hats. Whatever the need is, we try to help fill that need. With our non-profit, we will be able to do so much more on a deeper level and continue to build our programs and see them to fruition. One of the main tasks that I have volunteered with is going to court with women, so they can feel safe and file the appropriate documents so women can move on into a safe space.
From our hearts, we both thank you. You have created a safe and loving space for us and we love you deeply, Indie Mood.
**We love you right back K+M. We are honored to know you!
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, there is a way out. The domestic violence hotline is open 24/7 – call 1-800-799-7233, or visit https://www.thehotline.org/ to chat with an advocate.