December’s Independent Spotlight is with Sophie of Femme Fatale Cosmetics! FCC is based in Brisbane, Australia and she specializes in duochromes.
How long have you loved makeup?
I’ve worn makeup since my early teens, but I’ve only begun to love makeup in the last couple of years. I’ve always been into the arts and related; most of family members are either artists or architects. I did a lot of sketching and painting through my childhood, studied a bit of fashion design and even worked in a balloon store which was very hands on and a lot of fun. So I’ve always been at my most content when I’ve been doing a hobby or work that requires a good eye for colour and is more hands on with the creative aspect.
When I was younger my friends were always asking me to do their makeup for a night out, but I really only became much more involved in it once stumbled across a couple of YouTube tutorials many years later. I feel in love with the colours and creativity, and since then it’s become a BIG passion of mine. I think the passion is not for making myself look better, but more focused on the blending of colours and the creative side of it.
What made you decide to make your own?
I think there were a lot of contributing factors into why I chose this path. It actually began when I purchased a ton of (unknown to me) repackaged eye shadows a few years back, funnily enough. This caused me to not only research what repackaging was and where these micas came from, but my disappointment from those episodes pushed me into purchasing from true indie companies, ones who devote their time and creativity into producing authentic unique products.
Over time I accumilated so many stunning shades that I thought I would try to my hand at it to see what I could make; it seemed like a great hobby, and since I was already getting heavily into cosmetics I thought ‘why not?’. Once I got the ball rolling I recieved a lot of support from family, friends and even people on my personal blog who I shared beginning creations with, so I thought it would be great to start a company since there wasn’t much colour variety in the Australian mineral based makeup sector that I had seen. I get so much enjoyment out of it, it just kind of hit me that I had found something I could do for the rest of my life with a smile on my face.
How did you come up with the name Femme Fatale Cosmetics?
It was really hard picking out a name for the company, because I had so many ideas floating around of what type of image I wanted to portray. I wanted something a little dark, alternative, sultry, fun, and feminine. It had to be something that I could relate back to myself, because with any business you own you have to devote a large portion, if not all of you, to running it; and I wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t something that I would personally find visually appealing either .
I stumbled across the term ‘Femme Fatale’ one day, and it was just what I was after. Femme Fatale is basically French for ‘deadly woman’ . Wikipedia has a great description which I’ll include here:
“A femme fatale tries to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure.”
To me the description ties in well with a cosmetics company – of course we’re not assuming that to use FFC you have to have a secret agenda, but it was just the little more mysertious and darker aspect that I was searching for.
What inspired your art?
The art we use for the website and marketing tools are commissioned pieces by an extremely talented Australian artist called Tegan Coddington. I’d been browsing her DeviantArt portfolio (GlitterSniffer) for years now – she does exceptionally dark and twisted pieces which are slightly distorted, and some a pretty bizarre. But overall she is just so amazingly talented, her eye for colour drew me in big time! Once I had decided on the company name, I knew 100% that she was the person to create our signature artwork. Of course, I wanted something dark with a little feminine appeal to it to reflect the company name, but I also wanted to make sure it wasn’t graphic or offensive.
The two pieces we have (the girl on the business/marketing card and the other on the website banner) are dressed in corsets, surrounded by roses and roughly positioned in a pin-up pose. Both have the ‘alternative’ look to them, being heavily tattooed. I wanted to touch base with the dark and sultry aspect of a ‘Femme Fatale’ while still keeping it visually appealling.
We use a bow and skull logo on our marketing tools too, as well as our jar labels, and that is a little more fun while still having the ‘dark and deadly’ feel to it. We also try to colour code the eyeshadow jar labels, so it makes it easier to locate the colour you’re after if you tend to stash them in a drawer or whatnot. I’ve only recently realised there are some problems with this, since I don’t have enough colour variety with my labels! But it’s something I’m hoping to add to over the next year, because I really like the idea of colour coding our lids to aid in storage.
How do you decide on names for your colors?
Shadows are mostly named after the colour is created. Sometimes I’ll find a name or image I really like and create a colour around it or what I envision to match the name. Mostly I just jot down any words or short phrases I come across in daily life if I think I can put it to good use.
I take on inspiration from a lot of things, lately it’s been from one of my favourite MMORPG’s which has been a big hobby of mine over the last 4 years or so. Some of our names are a little odd, like ‘Space Cow’, but overall I like to break up the predictive names with something a little more fun. Since a lot of our colours are quite bright, I don’t want every detail about Femme Fatale to be too dark.
How many hours a day do you work? Days a week?
Most of my time is spent where I am right now, in front of the computer. I do all our customer service, promotion work, graphic design, product pictures, social networking and the website – pretty much everything except the coding for our site.
At the moment it’s been quiet; which gives me time to plan ahead for upcoming releases for next year – and especially my Valentine’s Day collection which I’m really focusing on a lot this month. Since Femme Fatale is still quite new, I work about 5 days a week. I work through the entire 7 days of a week, but it’s not a full day grind. I really like being busy, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time organising the samples we’re contributing to the Indie Style Awesome Box for early 2012, working on a lot of the graphic design for upcoming promotions and also designing some new labels we’re getting early next year for new blush additions. That plus formulating products, can’t forget that one – it’s probably the most important of all!
Do you work by yourself or do you have help?
I work (formulate and fill orders, customer service etc) completely alone. My partner does the Post Office runs, and my brother does the programing for the website – but other then that it’s just me, myself and I. And we’re a happy bunch!
What’s your favorite part about starting your own company?
1 – Customer feedback. People being excited about trying FFC for the first time, people happy about the customer service, people loving the colours I create – It’s seriously the best feeling in the world and never fails to put a massive smile on my face.
2 – Formulating new shades, and the graphic design for promotions, sites and new labels.
What’s the hardest part of starting your own company?
There’s two things I have found to be quite difficult and daunting.
The first thing is researching my ingredients, making sure everything I use is safe for people to wear, ensuring I have the proper registrations to produce and sell cosmetics and import ingredients. A lot of the Australian cosmetic regulations are based off of the FDA, so it was a bit confusing at first sifting through so much stuff from Australian Government bodies only to be redirected to the FDA for specific things. And I will admit after reading so much drama about companies using soap dyes and all sorts of nasties, I’ve literally become paranoid about how I produce my products and what I use. The idea of risking damage to a person’s eyes in order to make a quick buck or simply from being lazy is just absolutely horrible and a gross breach of trust, so I triple check everything before I even use it in the first stage of formulating. If I look to use a new ingredient it’s something I research thoroughly, to make sure it’s absolutely safe to use.
The second thing would be promoting FFC. Without a doubt this is one of the hardest things to do. Just getting my brand out there and known (while on a budget) is really tough, especially for someone like me who isn’t really a part of many online beauty circles. Australia has a pretty big online beauty community, but indie mineral brands are small and far between. We have a few, and most have really high prices ($15-$35 per eye shadow) and almost none specialise in colour shifting or duochrome shades. To try and get not only into the Australian market but also internationally I have my pricing relatively competitive with overseas companies, but if you’re here in Aus it’s a bargain compared to other well known brands. Another difficult part is actually sourcing stock, a lot of things I buy here in Australia but some things, such as the ingredients, are so grossly inflated it’s not even funny; which is a shame because I’d like to fully support Australian businesses too.
As an international company, what unexpected challenges have you faced?
My biggest obstacle actually is the international shipping pricing, I know over in the US shipping can be as little as $3 or $4 but here it’s over $6 just for national post. I think the higher price is a little daunting for first time buyers. They haven’t tried my products, don’t know what to expect and I can understand they would be hesitate to spend so much on shipping. This is why I offer free shipping on sample only orders, to encourage new customers to try our shades out at an affordable price. I also offer a flate rate on parcel shipping, so even if your package costs more than $10.50 to ship internationally you won’t be paying anything additional. Having my product pricing matching international pricing along with the flate rate for orders, I tend to tread a very fine line financially. But I’m hoping in the long run this will prove to be a better business choice rather than charging exorbant amounts for both shipping and the product. I want my products to be affordable for everyone, especially Australians since we already pay so much for everything else here.
What are your favorite colors to wear?
I tend to lean towards purples a lot. Purples and warm tones, preferably reds too. Although to be honest I do love every colour of the rainbow. I often like to tie in a few bright shades with darker colours to even it out.
What are your favorite colors that you’ve created? I really adore Heroic, Shooting Stars and Haunt!
Haha everyone seems to love Shooting Stars! But for me it’s definitely Flare, which is probably the least loved of them all –sadfase-
I love the combination of two opposties: a reddish coral base and a green colour shifting shimmer. I also like Enchanted, Endless Winter and Archangel. Well, really, I like them all – otherwise I wouldn’t release them hehe! I’m really pedantic about shades I release; so much stuff never even makes it past the first round of formulations – but I suppose that’s pretty typical of most indie cosmetic companies. Recently I’ve been trying to focus a lot more on simple shades and some matte shades to release, I want to have a good balance between my range because not everyone wants to wear sparkly shadows.
What is your absolute favorite eye shadow color ever?
This is a really hard question. I have that many stunning colours it becomes really difficult to single out a favourite. As you may know I’m a major colour-shifting addict. At the top of my list there’s been two that standout for me – Inglot Loose Pigment #84 and Fyrinnae’s Wicked. I can’t pick between them, they’ve both been a long time favourite for me.
What are your favorite lip colors?
I don’t wear lipstick at all. I stick to clear moisturising glosses, because my lips tend to dry out pretty quickly in the hot weather we have here. Since I have multiple lip piercings it’s a bit hard to wear lippy anyway, because the colour rubs away where the rings sit on the lower lip.
What are your favorite blushes?
The one I’ve been going for the most recently is MAC’s Bite of an Apple. I ususally favour lighter pinks or corals since I don’t like heavy blush shades, but this one has been blending out really well with my skintone.
What is your favorite beauty trend?
I don’t think I have any actually – haha! Sorry to disappoint! I don’t really follow trends too much, I kind of do my own thing. One thing I have been eyeing for aggges now is this nail art, the Konad stamping. I have been lusting over getting into that (and Ozotic polishes) for months and months now! Some of the mani blogs I follow are utterly amazing – those girls have some awesome talent and creativity.
Do you have a signature scent?
Calvin Kleins Euphoria. Actually, if I could pick a scent for FFC it would be Euphoria, it’s sultry and dark and I adore it. I used to wear a plain vanilla scent a lot, but over the last few years it’s always been Euphoria. I’ve noticed some perfume shops on Etsy recently, I’ve been thinking I would love to try some perfume oils. I might even attempt to make my own for personal use, it seems like something that could be really fun!
All colors are Femme Fatale Cosmetics unless otherwise noted:
•Sugarpill Tako – Highlight (haha totally plugging other brands in my own spotlight!).
•Archangel – over Tako and in Inner corner
•Incantation – Upper Crease
•Unholy – Crease
•Obliterate – Outer lid
•Levitate – rest of lid
•Lower Lashline – Unholy towards outer eye, Obliterate in the middle, Archangel in Inner Corner
•Aspect Chroma Glow Blush on cheeks.
•Liner is Urban Decay Perversion.
Do you have a trademark look or trademark colors?
No I don’t, I wear something different every time. I have that many eye shadows now that I don’t like repeating the same look, if I did most of them wouldn’t see any use! Plus I like to mix new colour combinations, life’s too short to be without spontaneity.
What do you prefer to look at for inspiration when you’re in the mood to
create something new?
I don’t take much on for inspiration, when I’m mixing colours I kind of start envisioning things and go from there. Sometimes I’ll see something I like, such as a nail polish or a particularly nice piece of scenery in WoW (they have some amazing collaborations of colours in that game) or even colours used in an advertisement in a magazine and use it loosely as a base colour to work from. Sometimes if I’m in a impulsive mood I’ll randomly throw colours together to see what arises, because sometimes being spontaneous is the best way to be creative – the shades ‘Wrath Baby’, ‘Wisp’ and ‘Inscribe’ are good examples of what can occur. But although I don’t doubt similarities to other companies’ shades may occur over time, I like to make sure everything is pretty unique to FFC.
What’s your skincare routine?
I have a really basic routine. My skin is dry so I tend to moisturise daily with a lotion that’s mostly oil based. I’ve been using a drugstore brand, Nivea, for about 12 years now and it’s always worked well with my skin (especially my legs which dry out quickly) so it’s what I stick to. I used Lush’s Dream Cream for awhile and that was great, it makes your skin SO soft, but the moisturising factor really wasn’t there so I went back to Nivea. With my face I try to avoid wearing foundation as much as possible because that along with natural oils clog up my pores way too much, and I use a moisturiser that isn’t too heavy with oils too. I love exfoliating so I use a soft exfoliator every second day (Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin). But overall it’s very simplistic – basic moisturisng with a soft exfoliation every few days, and avoiding caking too much cosmetics on the skin.
Do you have a favorite ‘super’ ingredient or food? (I’m hooked on fresh blueberries and dark chocolate)
I’m recently loving sultanas along with a cup of Lipton’s Lemongrass and Ginger tea. The sweetness of the sultanas totally counteracts the more bitter taste of the tea. It’s a bizarrely pleasant mix to have, hehe. That aside I have been really hooked on mangos, they’re my absolute favourite food ever.
What colors have you dyed your hair?
A few. Over the years I’ve been burgundy, deep red, bright red, hot pink, purple, black, blue and recently a nice plum colour with orange. A bit of a weird mix resulting from me not being able to finish dying my hair, but I’m becoming quite fond of it!
What’s your favorite way to accessorize? Gimme bats, any day!
I’m not too big on accessories. Because I spend so much time wearing gloves now for work, I don’t keep jewellry on. When I do wear it I keep it to a minimum – my engagement ring, watch and silver heart locket bracelet my partner gave me, and my Pandora bracelet. I like earrings a lot, and my favourite ones currently are a pair of big black hoops and a pair of intricate silver earrings that kind of look like a sun that my mum brought back from India a few years back.
Do you have a blog you’d like to tell us about?
I have one for Femme Fatale Cosmetics which I keep updated with important company related info, and I have a personal beauty blog which I do FOTD’s and so forth on. I recently decided to work my way through all the eye shadows I own, and I figured that’s about a years worth of FOTD’s!
Can you tell us about any upcoming collections?
I’ve started to plan out what I want for the Valentine’s Day collection. I’m thinking of including a blush but I’m not 100% sure because I have the then work out labelling (since all the FFC blushes have individual patterned labels). The Valentine’s Day will be a special collection since my birthday is 4 days after. Anyway, I’ve recently released a Christmas collection called Winter’s Veil – a limited edition collection of 5 eye shadows which will be available until we sell out of stock. And like I mentioned previously I’m also working on introducing some simpler shades and some matte tones, to make sure we can cater for all types of makeup lovers.
What’s your favorite chocolate?
I like Dark Chocolate. Milk Chocolate with hazelnuts is good but I eat too much of it – since dark is so rich I can limit my intake quite easily, but I love the taste!
Do you play any video games?
Yes. I wouldn’t consider myself a geek or whatever, but I’ve been a World of Warcraft player for nearly 4 years now. I also love playing Lego games (like Batman and Indiana Jones) or Xbox. Recently I have been obsessed with Angry Birds! It’s causing me much anguish getting 3 stars on every level – I curse those little green pigs daily. I’m also looking forward to playing Diablo 3 when it’s released.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
I have a mixed breed cat called Brutus. Brutus is a girl, but we found that out too late. She actually goes by the name ‘little moo’ now, I don’t know how we ended up calling her that but she doesn’t seem to mind too much. She also has a passion for chewing my flip flops and sleeping on her face inbetween the wall and the door, just like a fluffy doorstop.
What are your favorite authors or books to read?
Another difficult question! I read a LOT. I mostly enjoy fiction, a lot of genres from things like Harry Potter and the Trueblood series through to Dune, Titan and the Gormenghast trilogy. Stephen King by far is my favourite author, and has been since I was in my teens. I also like Dean Koontz (‘The Taking’ freaked me out a little!), Richard Laymon and Clive Barker. I enjoy a bit of fantasy too, Ian Irvine (an Australian!) is by far my favourite fantasty author. His Three Worlds series is unbelievably epic and well written. I also enjoy reading the odd book or too on neuroscience and social disorders, I find them quite fascinating. And I have a bit of an addiction to reading books on UFO’s and the paranormal!
What are your favorite tv shows?
I’m a sucker for TrueBlood. I love the books and the show is just done so well! I also enjoy renovation shows like The Block and of course, Next Top Model is quite addictive. My partner and I love watching adult cartoons like Metalocalpse, Harvey Birdman and Robot Chicken (always good for a laugh).
What is your office like currently?
My office is completely separate from my home, it’s a really old school portable workspace that used to belong to the Department of Health (weird huh? We bought it for like 400 bucks!) that we completely stripped down to the steel frame and refurbished into a office for me to work in. It was actually really fun, I love learning how to do things like that. This time round I learnt how to put in insulation and rivets! Haha. Actually the whole thing was a really good idea because not only is it easy to move if I need to but it’s also a controlled environment – since we also put in a sink and air con I really don’t even need to leave the place when I’m working which is great, I can just spend all day in my office focusing on work without disruptions.
The reason I really wanted something away from the house is because we have pets, and I wanted to keep the environment as clean as possible. It’s pretty basic – checkered floor (love the retro feel of it) and plain white walls to retain as much natural light as we can. I like to make sure I’m organised, and that way more efficient.
What color is your bedroom?
We have a feature wall painted in a muted blue based purple. It’s a lovely low key colour that I find quite calming, the rest of the walls are white.
What colors do you like to decorate with in your home?
I enjoy bold colours, except for in the bedroom since that’s mostly where I like to relax in bed with a good book or watching a fav show on telly. Our lounge is mostly white with two feature walls on either side, painted an intense cranberry red with pink undertones. The family thought it would be too much, but once again my eye for colour has come out on top. I tie in wall colours with accessories, such as throws and cushions one the couch which are a mix of reds, black, pinks and purples. I tend to favour dark furniture, which also works really well with reds.
What do you do to relax?
This might sound a little odd but I find the most relaxing thing is washing my hair. Warm water is the ultimate relaxant and unfortunately we don’t have a bath – only showers! That aside my favourite feeling is jumping out of shower into a bed made with clean sheets.
How do you pamper yourself?
Aside from buying boxed hair dye at the local supermarket I haven’t purchased much other than necessities for months now. I usually try to get out to a gig with the girlfriends when I can, but I mostly just make sure that at the end of the day I leave work in the office. Easy to say but hard to do!
I’m hoping to have some extra funds over Christmas to go on a minor spending spree, there’s a lot of stuff from other indie stores I’ve been dying to try out for awhile (and to add to my massive stash of eye shadows to work through!). But to be honest these days the best way I can pamper myself is by making sure I look after myself, and try to have some alone time each day to relax and focus on non-work stuff.
What’s on your iPod or Pandora Station? Or have you turned to Spotify or
the Google Music Beta?
Ah I don’t have an iPod and I don’t listen to the radio or anything. I listen to mostly black and death metal, and I have a massive collection of various artists on my PC which I put on when I’m in the mood for it. I’ve been listing to a lot of Rotting Christ and Grand Belial’s Key lately.