Becoming Too Faced With Jerrod Blandino

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The world of Too Faced is pretty, pink, and perfectly poised. When it comes to creating quality cosmetics, the company’s founder, Jerrod Blandino, isn’t simply a makeup maker—he’s the creator of a cosmetic wonderland. Taking some time out from his busy routine, Blandino chatted with us about what it’s like to go from a startup company in the late ‘90s to a full-blown cosmetics brand today. He also described just how much hard work and complicated planning goes into creating his color-wonderful palettes, as well as the brand’s more scientific items such as its skin-boosting BB creams and detailed mascara brush designs.

The Too Faced aesthetic is extra sugary, and Blandino is careful to ensure his products are just as sweet—giving us makeup magic that inspires and empowers women all over the world. Two big philosophies of Too Faced, you discover after meeting Blandino, are that the “girlie girl” has a place in the world of big business and that you don’t have to sacrifice your feminine side to feel powerful. Read on to learn more about just what takes to tackle the makeup industry while celebrating the wonderful world of femininity.

B: At what age did you decide a career in makeup was for you? How did you get into it?

At the age of 20 I was actually working as a children’s art teacher when I began to fall into makeup. I view makeup literally as just another form of art—a really special, empowering form that can boost a person’s self-esteem and enjoyment. It’s painting on a different canvas with a different type of palette, but the sense of creating something beautiful or meaningful remains unchanged.

B: You, like so many, started out as a makeup artist. What was it about the products you were using that prompted you to start your own line?

I conjured up the idea for Too Faced while working behind the counter at Estée Lauder in the ‘90s. I’ve always been creative and rebellious and I felt as though there was nothing fun or glamorous enough in my kit to enable my clients to really shine and have fun with their femininity. The very first product I created was by crushing up a popular matte eye shadow with one of the brand’s shimmering blushes to use on customers, which later was a major inspiration for me to create the first glitter eyeshadows on the market after our launch in ‘98. I wanted to create fun products that would allow women to really enjoy being feminine.

B: We love the pun in your brand name. How did you decide on it?

The term 'too faced' was something some friends and I thought up while working behind the makeup counter for the customers who would completely melt down if we were sold out of, say, their favorite lip product or must-have blush. I wanted the name Too Faced to mimic our crazy addiction to our favorite products while loving them at the same time. Being ‘Too Faced’ takes a lot of dedication and commitment to being glamorous and fabulous and I wanted to reflect that.

B: What were the early days at Too Faced like compared to the company now?

In the beginning, my partner Jeremy and I did everything from developing products with a lab to ordering stock, shipping orders, packaging products, paying bills, and even emptying the trash! We did it all—sometimes with the help of friends and family. Back then it felt like a crazy wild dream-world of endless possibilities, creativity, and joy.

Today I’ve got 150 amazing employees, the best in the business. It’s so much harder to manage the brand now because the pressure is on. We’re dealing with so much more money while striving to uphold a responsibility to our clients and retail partners to keep developing the most integrated, quality, cutting-edge products we can.

Back in the day it was just a dream, a spark, a wish, and a hope. Mind you, it was difficult in the sense that at any moment your whole world could collapse. Lucky for us, we’ve been really blessed and have had phenomenal success.I’ve been able to do things and work with people and icons who I never imagined I’d ever meet. It’s been a really beautiful life.

B: How do you come up with the color stories in your palettes?

Often they stem from a desire from my clients and the girls out there who want to try a certain look. Trends develop and there will be a sudden need for ‘the no makeup look,’ or a metallic smoky eye. Or maybe just something fresh-feeling, or retro. There are things that women know and desire that allow me to build a palette and a theme around. Other times I’ll base a color story on my own experiences—being in Maui and feeling overwhelmed by an amazing sunset of purples, peaches, and oranges hitting the crystal blue water. I love spinning what I see into, say, an eye shadow palette.

In the end though, color inspiration can really come from anywhere and for me it all goes back to the question of ‘how can I improve the lives of my Too Faced girls by really allowing them to look and feel their absolute best in the most modern way possible.’ I want my products to make girls feel empowered and safe enough to try a new look. There’s a lot of fear in beauty and people are often afraid to try new things. Women don’t want to go out in the world feeling like they look silly or that they didn’t ‘do it’ right and therefore they end up wearing the same looks over and over because they feel safe. I hope the inspiration and color stories in my products can inspire my clients to take risks and face the world feeling good.

B: Tell us about your very stylized packaging.

I live in a very embellished and fanciful world inside my head. I think a good product needs to hit all five of your senses and it should really visually stimulate you. When I was working behind the counter I noticed women would always pick up a product and smell it which I thought was so interesting. A product needs to look good, smell good, and feel good, and the packaging is just another layer of inspiration. In my dream world of makeup, everything should have a little extra embellishment or flavor to it.

B: Too Faced is a wonderfully effeminate brand. What is your perspective on women and makeup?

Growing up I always had lots of women in my life that I loved and it made me appreciate how much fun it is to be a girl. A guy’s world is so much smaller when it comes to self expression and fashion. Guys have patterned ties. They have black and brown loafers. Girls have kitten heels and glitter! I feel like women sometimes forget how much fun it is to be a girl. For me, femininity is power. I grew up watching Madonna take over the world in a Gaultier bustier and never be weak. She never allowed herself to be used. She was never sexy for a guy—she was sexy for herself. I don’t think you have to ‘man up’ to make it in this world. You don’t have to put on slacks and cut your hair off to be successful. I say throw on some lipstick, step into the highest heels that you can, go out there and take over!

B: Too faced is all about the bronzer, no matter what season! What makes bronzer such an important addition to a makeup kit?

I grew up in Southern California so I saw firsthand how important it was to women to have that sun-kissed glow year-round, to the point of sacrificing their health. When my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma it became my personal goal to offer women every type of bronzer from matte to shimmer, sheer to color-correcting. I want to afford women the luxury of beautiful bronzed sun-kissed skin without allowing them to risk their health. Since Coco Chanel brought the tan into fashion, it has not left. The only difference is it used to be a seasonal desire, but today it’s a year-round necessity. It makes you look younger, thinner, and sexier, and our bronzers can take you anywhere from a deep rich matte tan to a beautiful warm glow. That’s what makes Too Faced one of the most successful bronzing businesses out there today.

B: Developing fun shadows and glosses is one thing, but creating a great mascara is tricky! What is it like formulating such an important staple, from the makeup itself to the brush design?

Mascara is one of the hardest products to develop because there are so many aspects that you have to pay total attention to in order to create a quality product. You need to be able create a mascara that’s going to hit and work by mixing the perfect blend of waxes and polymers. Some of the ingredients in mascara even come to us from the aerospace industry! Even the plastic on the bottle will absolutely affect the ingredients inside so you really need to know what you’re doing. Then you have the amazing brush design from the angle of the brush itself to the finishing of the bristles. Without the engineers and scientists I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all over the world, it wouldn’t be possible for me to create these products which can take up to four years to develop! Mascara is the most precise, complicated, yet amazing product to make. Creating mascara gives you a new level of respect for it.

B: We’re big fans of your La Crème lipsticks. What makes them different?

Think about it: you have all these separate products you carry around in your purse– lip color, balms, glosses. [While creating the lipstick] I was considering if we were trying to define what the ideal lipstick would be today, what would that look like. Thats where La Crème came from. It’s full coverage in one swipe with a glossy beautiful finish. If a lipbalm married a lipstick and had a glossy affair.

B: What Too Faced products did you enjoy developing the most?

That’s like asking which one of my kids is my favorite! I have so many great memories. Creating glitter eye shadows when I was told it couldn’t be done was amazing. Being inspired by a Viagra commercial to develop my plumping gloss Lip Injection is a great memory. Making BB cream was an amazing experience after a friend brought some back from Korea for me to try and me wondering why no one was approaching this product from a makeup angle. It prompted me to create our Too Faced BB Cream as the new tinted moisturizer where makeup and skin care collide. It heals, protects, primes, and hydrates—everything you need a BB cream to do. I’m always looking for the next big thing and I’ve really loved developing everything so far.

B: How are you going to top the sweetness of your holiday collection? What's coming up in 2013?

Right now I’m working on a new mascara that will blow your mind, but I can’t tell you anything else right now! I’m always topping myself though—that’s my job and it’s what I strive for. You’ll soon find out what’s in store come spring and I assure you you’ll be dazzled and delighted!