The age of democratic makeup: 3INA’s founders on their game-changing beauty brand

The age of democratic makeup: 3INA’s founders on their game-changing beauty brand

A new creed

Text: Angelyn Kwek

Image: Instagram | @3ina

We catch up with founders Mark and Pablo on what makes 3INA the disruptive player the beauty scene needs

They're a pair of unassuming gents with a quiet confidence, and short of a neon sign with big flashing lights, you wouldn't have pegged Mark and Pablo to be the entrepreneurial duo behind Spanish beauty brand 3INA. A joint brainchild between the two born from over 30 years of experience in the fast fashion industry, 3INA has launched on our shores to approving nods from beauty insiders lauding the brand's ethos of 'real, honest beauty'.

Created with a vision to challenge the one-size-fits-all definition of beauty, and rooted in an all-inclusive positivity that celebrates individuality and the freedom of experimentation and expression, 3INA certainly doesn't come up short against the makeup giants. While a bevy of exciting products might act as the initial draw, the heart of the brand lies in its core beliefs that beauty is about fun and a dash of derring-do that gives you the confidence to try new things — an aesthetic that can be found in its campaigns where colour makeup is represented by real women who are as interesting as they are diverse.

3INA marketing campaign

From its first retail space in London's Covent Garden to Ion Orchard, there's no doubt 3INA is going places. ...But wait, the average Jane might be asking, "3INA who? And what's so game-changing about it?"

More than keen to share, here's Mark and Pablo dishing the deets on their emerging new breed of democratic beauty (and why you need to join the movement, stat):

First things first: Can you tell us what's behind the brand name? We've had everyone scratching their heads and mispronouncing 3INA.
If you go to Argentina and you see a beautiful girl on the streets, you'll call her 'mina'. So this is where the name comes from. It was Pablo's idea.

Pablo: We turned the 'M' because for everything we do, we like to give it a twist. It can't just be 'MINA'. We need to make it more interesting. Honestly, we enjoy that debate about how our name is pronounced!

What is the concept of 3INA and how it is translated into the product range and the packaging? And with the first store based in Covent Garden, is there some of that London vibe incorporated into the brand?
First of all, 3INA is a Spanish brand. But we have offices in London, so a lot of the creativity around the brand comes out of there. I guess if you're into trends or fashion, you'd go to these capitals of the world for inspiration, which we do as well. We are a global brand, so we take our inspiration from everywhere. 

Pablo: It's also about affordable luxury. One aspect that makes 3INA disruptive is the quality of our products at the prices we have.  You get the best formulas, with high pigmentation and long lasting pay-off. And it's all very easy to apply. That's very important to us because it  has to be something you can apply by yourself. Makeup is about playfulness.

3INA is also really Instagrammable. Was that by design or a happy coincidence?
Mark: Nope, no coincidence. Our background is in fashion, and in that environment you tend to have a white box and you make the product the hero. In beauty, it tends to be the other way around; so it's the ambience of the space, the store — it's very theatric. And because the products are quite small, it's typically black and it's kind of secondary. But we wanted it to be the primary hero, that's why it's a fairly blank canvas inside the store and the packaging is the focus.

3INA primers

Having worked in fashion for so long, did that background influence the aesthetics of 3INA? Was it an abrupt shift going from fashion to makeup? And what do each of you bring to the table?
Mark: We're yin and yang, as you can see (laughs).

Pablo: I think not having a beauty background has given us a lot of freedom to do whatever we thought was best. We did not have any pre-conceptions, so that has allowed us to come up with a really disruptive brand. Our speed to market is amazing; from the moment we identify a trend to when it hits the stores, it can happen in four to five months. Typically, other brands would take around two years. So while we're very small, we're very flexible. And that's something brought over from fashion, as that industry has a quicker reaction to trends.

Incidentally, 3INA's marketing campaign is very fashion forward and features several diverse faces. How did you find these girls and where were they shot?
Pablo: I think that's the reality of the world today. It's not so much about being fashion forward; it's about being in touch m with what's happening now. The world is extremely connected, and it's also very diverse — so 3INA is reflection of today's reality.

Mark: The campaigns are shot in London because the great advantage there is that we have every kind of culture and every kind of ethnicity. So the girls are genuinely from Ghana, from China, et cetera, and most of them are in London for university. We take a different approach to finding them as well; it's not the typical kind of 'west' look. We look for the character — the 3INA characteristics which are youthful, fun, and genuine.

3INA marketing campaign

The brand has superb pigmentation and long-staying formulas while still remaining affordable. Was the price point a challenge to factor in without having to compromise on quality?
Mark: We strive to find the best possible ingredients. Minerals, powders, waxes... These are sourced from all over the world, and brought into Europe and made there. They're all high quality ingredients from which we create our formulas.

What we see in beauty when we were starting the company is a tremendous amount of money invested in marketing because the tradition is to go through department stores and third parties. But we've taken a different approach with our own stores, where we create our environment and this allows us to bring the price down. So we don't invest huge sums of money in marketing; we would rather give that value back to the customer. And hopefully she'll be impressed and she'll tell nine other friends to try 3INA and they'll tell nine other friends!

3INA is predominantly a makeup brand but you have a solid range of skincare as well. Can you share what's in the lineup and some of the most raved about products?
Pablo: We have 60 skincare products, and the bi-facil eyes and lips makeup remover is one of our bestsellers, followed by the Micellar Gel and the toner. We also have the day and night creams, and their formulas are developed in Switzerland so the best science goes into our products.

What are the top five 3INA bestsellers?
Pablo: The first bestseller is actually the highlighter, which is quite uncommon. We're really proud of that because it's not a basic product. Second is the Long Wear Lipstick — it's an amazing product and it lasts forever. It's a bestseller in almost every country where we trade, then there's the Pen Eyeliner, followed by the Cream Eyeshadow. Fifth is the High Definition Mascara.

Who are the crowds you see 3INA resonating with? Are they the trend-driven women, makeup artists and gurus or millennials?
What we stand for as a brand is to be age-agnostic. As long as you are youthful in spirit, that's all that matters. We don't measure by numbers or by age, and we don't care about race or gender. We try our best to make our products affordable so we also wealth-agnostic. It's more about this movement to being real, playful and fun. We've got lots of colours, so just come and play with them and have fun with makeup.

You're coming in strong with a flagship in Ion Orchard and you'll soon be opening another store in Tampines. What other exciting things are down the pipeline for the brand in Singapore, and Asia as a whole?
We're opening in Junction 8 at the end of the year, and that will be our third store in Singapore in just a span of a few months. Then we're entering Malaysia pretty soon where we'll open our first store, and we're also looking to launch in the Philippines in early 2018. Yeah, we've got great plans for the South East Asian market, all happening very soon!

3INA Eyeshadows

3INA is available at Ion Orchard Level B2-67, Tampines Mall Level 01-27, and online. Follow 3INA here.