Peelable lipsticks, glitter dust and holographic eyeliners, oh my! Pretty Vulgar’s founder, Lewis Farsedakis, tells us more
A little birdie told me...
As creatures of habit, it's easy to succumb to tried-and-tested looks year after year. Why change a good thing? Ariana Grande and her swinging high pony, Lorde's dark, vampy lip hues, and Alexa Chung's dainty winged liner are still going strong. Classic, signature, definitive? Or boring, limiting, and a one-trick pony?
Lewis Farsedekis, founder of eclectic vintage makeup label, Pretty Vulgar, leans toward the latter camp. "We feel people are multi-faceted. There's a lot more to us, you know? It's perfectly fine to be crazy with your friends one day and be professional on another and be any shade in between," he says, with a shrug of his shoulders. "I love seeing people embracing all of it. I love it even more when you have somebody who normally has a very natural look going crazy on the weekends. That's what's fun about make-up, right?"
It is a spirit that is very much embodied in Pretty Vulgar. Designed to be all-inclusive, the diverse range encourages users to explore the nooks and crannies of their personalities — from elegant to dark to everything else in between. We sit down with Farsedekis to address the ethos of the brand, the inspiration behind his ingenious product names, and the perils of Instagram eyebrows.
First things first: the name Pretty Vulgar is a contradiction in itself. How did you come up with it?
[Laughs] Contradiction is everywhere. You'll notice a lot of birds in our brand, and these birds exemplify the contradiction, because instead of telling people, like other brands, to be one thing (be elegant, edgy or whatever), we feel that people are multi-faceted. We want them to embrace all those beautiful contradictions.
Our birds are very important to us as they represent our girl, and our girl is always free as a bird to live a cage-free life. And that's why you'll never see any of our birds in cages. If you ever do, the cage will be wide open because she gets to fly in and out whenever she feels like it. So, yeah, there's a lot of story to it.
We love that. We can't help but notice that this applies to the packaging as well. What's the inspiration behind Pretty Vulgar's unique vintage aesthetic?
It's a very eclectic look — we were kind of inspired by what you would find in your grandmother's house; like when you go in and find all these sorts of antique things. And we have contradiction sprinkled throughout the brand. For example, our beautiful packaging is paired with colourful shade names like 'Kiss My Ash' and 'Backstabber'.
I was just going to ask about that! Walk me through how you guys come up with your inventive product names.
They're fun little get-togethers. We make sure it relates to the product and yeah, we just brainstorm names as a team until we find inspiration.
Take one of our latest launches, Glitter Dust, for instance. It has to do with Tinkerbell because of the fairy relation. And you know how she dies when she doesn't get attention? So the whole campaign is about pretty much focused on that. Shade names are going to be Attention Seeker or things like that — the way it relates to the concept is how we come up with the shade names, basically.
Wow, that is a lot of glitter.
It is. Great for face, body, hair... very fun product.
Is this the exclusive new release for upcoming months?
Nope! We are giving in our goodie bags the second product that we are launching, the Faux Reals Mascara. It gives a faux type of fake mascara effect, and comes in a super volumizing dramatic black.
We also have our liquid highlighters, available in three different shades you can see from space, probably [laughs]. Oh, and not forgetting our foundation, of course — beautiful packaging. It is a part of our Detoxifying Lava Water Collection so it cleanses pores alongside a whole host of other skincare benefits. It is also super lightweight, provides amazing coverage, and doesn't feel cakey even after long hours of wear.
Nice. Let's talk trends in 2019: anything you're particularly excited about, or looking forward to seeing in the year?
We have a fairly young office so we are super excited every time it is festival season. Hence the Glitter Dust, oh, and we have a Holographic Eyeliner which is not here, but is a part of the core line we launched. But if you're talking personally? I would say faux freckles. We're launching a faux freckle product that we're really excited about.
Hmm, worst beauty trend of 2019?
You know that thing they do on Instagram? With the brows that are wavy? I hate that. Questionable is a better way to put it, actually. Yeah, definitely not my favourite.
Interesting! Any other future products or plans you can talk about?
[Laughs] Okay, I don't even know whether this is possible, but I'll give you two. One is focused more on product, and one is more on packaging. Which would you like to hear?
That's an impossible choice!
Okay, I'll tell you both. So, in terms of product, we're working on a removable lipstick. Like a peelable one — imagine a second layer of skin with pigment that pulls off. So, you put it on wet then it adheres to your skin. The lipstick then moves with your lips, and when you're done, you just pull it off. We're close, but it's going to happen a little in the future because we haven't perfected a couple of things yet.
Packaging wise, our packaging stories are inspired by going to your grandma's house. So, you see all these cute little things, like bird cages and flowers and teacups — except we put our little vulgar twist on them, like "you've been poisoned" right at the bottom of this tea cup. So what I want is a ballerina box product, the kind where you open it up and... [mimes twirling motion]. You know? We're working on that, but it's complicated.
That sounds gorgeous already.
Right? It is one of the important things we are trying to do packaging wise. We want have a line that is as beautiful on your vanity as it is on your face, where we have an amazing brand story that really connects with the person. That's why we're coming up with a bird quiz to find out what's your 'bird-sonality.' We want to connect with you — with the customer — at a level deeper than just 'here's our products; try them.'
I see. So you'll be recommending products based on the results obtained from the quiz?
Right. The personalities are based on a true personality test so it's going to be very real. Funnily enough, birds have personalities that mimic humans as well. There are all kinds of personalities that birds have — and you can have anywhere from one to four bird personalities. You may be 25% of four different birds or 50-50 of two birds... yeah [laughs].
It's like a form of personalisation. Really cool. Do you personally use make up?
Nah, but my wife and kids do.
Oh, nice! What are their attitudes towards makeup so far?
My kids? Oh, they jump all over it. They love it. They watch all the videos. There used to be a time not even long ago where my daughters will look to my wife to get inspired. Now my daughters are twelve and fourteen and it's completely reversed.
They'll go to my wife and say — because they've watched all those videos and these amazing influencers — they will say 'no, this is how you do it'. And they are showing my wife how to do makeup. I love how they are into the business. I've been in the industry for 20 years and it has been super fun. The people are amazing. I love everything about it.
Do they ever inspire you to make any of Pretty Vulgar's products?
Every day. They give us ideas, they help with social media. They'll go, "do you know this influencer?", or "this person's really getting hot". So, it's really a bonding moment.