Milk Makeup: A Beauty Revolution Founded in Meatpacking
March 19, 2016
Rarely have I felt strongly about individual make up products. Of course, makeup has always served a purpose, and over the years I’ve had mild feelings of loyalty to one product or another. Don’t get my wrong – I know what I like and what I feel works for me…today anyway.
When I was a teenager, I liked to cover my adolescent acne with way too much concealer, and I bathed in lip-gloss, the fruitier, the better. In college I liked to over indulge in black eyeliner, with amounts so intense I’m sure Mick Jagger would object strongly. At one point, I caved to the madness and tweezed nearly all of my previously-thick, gorgeous eyebrows into barely there, super-arched lines, which later needed lots of brow pencil to remedy the damage. There was also a hot minute in the early-2000s where I lined my lips in dark brown, filling the middle with a light frosted pink, which is a good look on exactly, no one. Somewhere in my mid-twenties I came around to my current makeup strategy: minimal and with a purpose. Highlight my assets and leave the intense facial décor to stage actors and trends to magazines.
Our @milkmakeup artist for this article, Kenecia Lashae, aka @passporttopretty, and I agreed; today’s makeup industry produces too many products all about covering up flaws or to help us fit a predetermined ideal of beauty. The “tone-down-this” or “cover-up-that” motto of most brands has never appealed to me.
And for the record, I like my freckles, lady at the (unnamed) makeup counter at Bloomingdale’s circa 1996.
Enter Milk Makeup.
Launched this winter by the co-founder and creative director of Milk Studios, Mazdack Rassi and a team of industry leaders, including Zanna Rassi, Georgie Geville, Dianna Ruth and Frank B., this is a line of products that says: We are all different. Revel in that. Have fun. Play around. Try this. DO YOU.
Milk Makeup is a line of products designed to celebrate individuality, the beauty in our variety, the freedom that comes when we embrace who we are. The Milk team wants makeup to be a party and I couldn’t agree more.
I sat down with Rassi to talk about Milk Makeup, conceived and developed here in the Meatpacking District. And then I got to try the line, the way a little kid does, when first discovering mom’s lipstick. I got it all over my face, and tapped into the girlish fun of first discovery of self-expression.
Lauren Danziger: Tell me about the impetus to start a make up line?
Mazdack Rassi: In the beginning of the process, it was when we realized that Milk had built a community, and we then started to treat Milk in the Meatpacking as a cultural center, and as a school. We also realized that we have the most vibrant network of both young men and women, who in their soul are about creativity. We knew we wanted to create a product for them, about them. Even though Milk is a studio, we did not want to create a link around make up artistry or a professional line of makeup.
We built a product for the Milk girl and Milk guy. It’s not meant to feel much like cosmetics, but more like paint with an element of play. It feels fun, and meant to be an extension of our culture and our community. The line is meant to have the same voice, the same attitude of the creative people you meet when you walk through Milk. It’s the girls in the equipment room, the kids who come to the gallery openings, and those who come to our fashion week shows and presentations.
The entire line was designed and conceptualized right in Meatpacking. It’s home grown. Research and development, formula development, product and packaging design all developed here in Meatpacking. The majority of the line is produced in the US and we didn’t outsource the backend, like most other brands – we decided we wanted to do it in house to make sure that the brand was true to our vision. We worked so hard for the last 20 years to stand for something and project our brand, so we felt we had to do it all ourselves to make it true to us.
LD: Why makeup?
MR: Because it’s about self-expression. It’s a creative process. It’s an accessory, at least the way we are treating it.
About 4-5 years ago we realized Milk was becoming a brand and if we were a brand, we thought, “what’s our product” and we loved that challenge. In the end we went through a gamut of ideas, but we narrowed it down to makeup because we thought the Milk girl and guy used it in a very creative way to enhance who they are and how they view themselves.
Our girl definitely doesn’t wear a lot of makeup and she doesn’t spend an hour on her face just to take a ”selfie”. She changes her look in the back of a taxi and from night to day in five minutes. She’s a city girl at heart and she loves the creative world and feels that she is creative herself. She doesn’t take trends on face value, she makes them her own.
MR: There are three things:
- All the formulations are with the best base products. All are paraben and cruelty-free, made from best natural ingredients including hydrating oils, fruit and vegetable butters, and thoughtful formulations with minimal to no preservatives. Almost 70-80% of the line is vegan. The formulations are from the ground up; we build every single one of them.
- All are one hand application. There are no tools, no brushes. This is a line for a girl on the go. Saving time for our customer was important. Its fast application, fast make up. Lot’s of rollerballs used for application, very unexpected. You know in fashion we’ve become known as disruptive, and we’ve become comfortable doing things our own way. The design of Milk Makeup fits that bill.
- Unique products. We created a marker for you lip and eye. Blotting papers you can roll and smoke. Eye vinyl– something people have been doing in the studios for years – where you mix pigment with Vaseline and it gives you that lid that’s very shiny. We worked really hard to put it into one product so now instead a makeup artist spending an hour to concoct this thing, it’s in a pen; one click and you’ve got it.
LD: “For girls, by girls.” It’s a line I’ve heard a lot to describe Milk Makeup. You have two daughters, Rumi + Juno, and I wondered if they were at all a factor in developing the product?
MR: Yes, I mean, for me personally, I built it for them. Hopefully it will be my legacy to them and they can take it over one day. You know, when you have kids everything changes. We all hear that a lot, but it’s totally true. I cared deeply about the products we used to create this line, the minerals, the plastics. It all became important through the lens of my twins.
LD: You worked on this project and developed this line with your wife Zanna Rassi – how was that experience?
MR: It was our first real project together, (children and life aside) but there were many others involved here at Milk, a true company effort.
As far as the dynamic between me and Zanna goes, we’d be up all night talking about the products and for me, I got to learn about everything makeup. She used to be a beauty editor prior to being a fashion editor, so she brought so much knowledge to this effort. I think so far we’ve only gotten into one argument and it was over mascara, which is weird. Haha! It was something about how much sapphire dust is in the product. Just goes to show you how much we care about the products.
LD: Did you develop a new respect for her and what women go through?
MR: I’ve always had that respect for her. I think in recent days, its deeper but more about her being a mom rather than the businesswoman I already admired.
My dad told me the only thing you have to do in life and nothing else matters. Pick the right girl to make a life, to have children. Everything else will fall into place. And I picked the right girl.