For the last two decades, Urban Decay has revolutionized the beauty industry. In 1996, when the brand first came to be, the market was over saturated with neutral makeup shades that, frankly, weren’t appealing to everyone’s taste. So co-founder Wende Zomnir swooped in to fill in the gap, creating a cosmetics range that brought tons of edge. Flash forward to today, and its products are some of the best-selling at Sephora and Ulta (Naked palette, anyone?) and satisfy just about every beauty need.
We had a chance to sit down with Zomnir to ask her some of the questions we’ve wondered for years. Ahead, she breaks down the toughest lessons in building a beauty brand, the best thing about the new Naked Heat palette, and the future of Urban Decay.
What’s the first UD product a beauty novice should try?
“A Naked palette. We found that people who come to [UD] though trying the Naked palette become our best customers, because they try it and love it and want to learn more about our brand. Pros use it, but it’s also very user-friendly — and it’s a great travel palette, too.”
If you had to play favorites, which product would be your #1?
“I get really excited about eye shadow palettes, and one of my favorites to work on was the one we did with Gwen Stefani. Even though the colors weren’t my personal [choice], I loved seeing her take things out of her shoe box and say, ‘I mixed this with this,’ and creating the perfect shades for her. She had a vision because she didn’t have the products she needed. It made me really happy to fill that hole for her and watch her bring her perfect palette to life.”
Do you have a favorite shade name?
“I like the one in the Naked Heat palette called ‘He Devil’ because it takes that sexist term and turns it on its head.”
Are there any products that never made it out of the think tank?
“There are so many. We over-create, but a lot of times there isn’t enough room on the shelves for products at the store. We are in Ulta and Sephora, mostly in the US, and there’s limited amount of space.”
If you could create your dream beauty product, what would it be?
“I would have a clip-on photo-shop filter that beams up, but you can’t tell is there — and it would move at 360 degrees, fixing everything!”
What kind of advice would you give to young women looking to make a career in beauty?
“I always say ‘When preparation and opportunity meet, it results in a phenomenon known as luck.’ It’s all about creating your own luck and preparing yourself in a variety of different ways. I worked at a big ad agency and had been doing a lot of journalism and writing, so when I pitched Urban [Decay] I was ready. Even if you’re not in the job that you want to be in, try to get as much training out of that job as you can and find as many ways to immerse yourself in it. When you’re ready to follow your passion, having a vision is the first step.”