Back in May I wrote a tidbits about why I like to support indie. After the Makeup Show Orlando, I’ve had to rethink my feelings about what sort of companies I consider to be indie, as well as its definition.
It used to be that I only considered companies that created their own products and did not sell them in major chains such as Sephora, Hot Topic, Ulta, etc to be indie. This means companies like Meow, Fyrinnae, BftE, Evil Shades, Morgana Cryptoria, Obsessie Compulsive Cosmetics, Silk Naturals etc were all indie to me. It meant that I did not consider companies like Nyx to be indie.
After Sugarpill came on the market, I had to redefine how I felt about indie, because Amy (owner of Sugarpill), works with a lab to create her products. My friend Maria of Cult Nails works with a lab to create her nail polish colors. Marlena from Makeup Geek did the same thing, working with a lab to create her colors and products. Kaz from Pretty Serious is very involved in her product creation, too! This caused my definition of Indie to widen to encompass Pretty Serious, Sugarpill, Cult Nails and Makeup Geek, in addition to companies like BftE and Fyrinnae.
Cue the Makeup Show Orlando. I spoke to Brian from Too Faced, who’s a total sweety and a business development exec. for Too Faced. It was surprising to see that they consider Too Faced to be indie because they’re independently operated and ran, not owned by one of the big conglomerates like Estee Lauder. I didn’t realize this until we were talking, because as long as I’ve known of Too Faced, they’ve been in Sephora.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, also a company that I considered Indie, is now being sold in Sephora, but I still see them as indie. From what I can tell, Illamasqua is independently owned, too.
I now consider a wider range of companies to be indie. After researching, Urban Decay is the largest independently owned cosmetic company in the United States. When I look at my favorite companies these days – Urban Decay, Too Faced, Sugarpill, BftE, Cult Nails, Inglot, Fyrinnae, Silk Naturals, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Pretty Serious etc what they have in common is being independently owned and making great products. More recently, many of them have been great to follow and interact with on Social Media.
My definition of indie used to be a tiny company that sold online and wasn’t available in any speciality store. Now my definition of indie has expanded to include large companies, still independently owned, that are sold in specialty stores such as Sephora. I think these companies are the ones I choose to support because I like the decisions they make. They’re still cruelty-free. They’re not selling in China. Most of them have fully embraced social media. If you’re looking for a list of indie companies doing social media correctly, check out Cult Nails, Too Faced, Urban Decay, BftE, Sugarpill, and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. They’re great to interact with.
Wearing Illamasqua and Sugarpill.
How has your definition of an ‘indie company’ changed over the years? I feel like mine has changed a lot! Just 4 years ago I would have never considered Too Faced or Urban Decay as indie, but I do now.
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I totally hear what you’re saying, I think it’s great to support independently owned companies like UD, but I do think there is a distinction between a independently owned mainstream brand (UD, Too Faced), and an “indie” – an internet-only, self-mixed product (Fyrinnae, Shiro). Brands like OCC, Sugarpill, and Cult Nails fall somewhere in the middle – they aren’t quite mainstream yet, though OCC is definitely getting there!, but they aren’t quite indies.
I’m not saying that one type of company is superior to another, either. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I just think there are still distinctions between the types of companies. But again, I hear what you’re saying – there are definitely distinctions between independently owned mainstream brands and the big conglomerate mainstream brands owned by L’oreal, Estee Lauder, etc.
Emi at Project Swatch Yes, I agree. I think the fact that companies like OCC, Sugarpill, Cult Nails, Fyrinnae, Too Faced, etc don’t have a board of members to answer to is why they are able to remain cruelty-free and continue to focus on making innovative / nice products, as opposed to churning out collection after collection after collection of sub-par products.
Go go for indie products then
Maybe there are different levels of Indie? I probably felt how you did about indie being the tiny home-operated companies, but it makes sense including ones like Too Faced since they are their own company. I think that’s pretty cool Still, when I think of true Indie, I tend to picture companies like BFTE, Fyrinnae, etc. I don’t think you can get more indie than mixing your own pigments in your living room, for example. Not that one is superior to another, it’s just what comes to my mind. Very thoughtful article, thanks for sharing!
Makeupfancy You’re welcome
When I think of indie, I think of completely hand made like Fyrinnae. Not sure if there would be a better name for brands like Cult, Sugar pill, Too Faced… all brands which I love but don’t see of as indie. I consider those brands more of the brains of great marketing/ideas and they are more hands than huge conglomerates that may have many different people pooling ideas. Still not formulating the products completely though with their own special recipe, because you know that the formulas they create with the labs are going to be similar to any other companies the lab works with. The difference though is the presentation (brand image) and creativity with the labs. I think each have their own advantages, I usually tend to go for indie but I still go for more main stream and midstream brands. I buy what I like regardless in the end though, as long as the company doesn’t irk me in certain practices.
Oh I did think of an example, with Cult they had their rainbow multi glitter fairy tales??? polish, which was a dupe for the one sold at Icing. Not so much unique in product, but good marketing. Both the same exact polish, but would you say Cult is more indy than Icing because Icing has retail locations and Cult does not? I tend to think of indy as the end result of a product which is completely made by the owner, but I can see indy having different interpretations.
paintednightsky Ok for that polish, I saw the dupe for it recently on someone’s blog. However, it’s not an exact dupe. Maria’s formula for Cult Nails polish (i.e. the base that goes into every polish to make it long-wearing and smooth) is different than Icing’s polish, which has always chipped on me.
So yes, sometimes the labs people work with will re-sell ingredients, like that mica for the pink purple sparkle, but they don’t sell the exact formula / base for the polish.
I know that Sugarpill’s colors are unique because of whatever contract Amy has with her lab. Usually the base will be unique for companies, but the ingredients can be resold to others. Think about, for example, the TKB travel to colors. If they’re used in a base with carnuba wax they’ll be buttery smooth. If they’re not used with any base, they’ll be kinda meh. That’s why the same basic mica shades can vary so much from brand to brand.
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Vulcan_Butterfly It was very interesting to see that Urban Decay considers themselves indie. And by the definition of the word, they are. I hadn’t considered UD or Too Faced as indie until then.