A full face of make-up can be done in three minutes - at least according to Ms Jenny Frankel, founder and purveyor of the fuss-free Canadian cosmetics label Nudestix. The brand is known for its creamy make-up pencils and there are more than 40 to choose from. Everything from its concealer, highlighter, bronzer and eyeshadow to its lip and cheek products come in the form of a pencil - with a nifty sharpener that can be slipped onto the other end of the barrel. The shades are easy-to-wear, flattering neutrals and the only tools needed to blend the make-up are one's fingertips. "All you have to do is draw and smudge and you have 10 make-up 'tools' with you at any one time," says Ms Frankel, 43, who is based in Toronto.
The pencils are priced at $34 each and will be available at Sephora stores in Singapore from January. The top-selling shades and products will be available in gift sets (from $34) at the stores this month. Ms Frankel got the idea for Nudestix after she observed the grooming habits of her teenage daughters Taylor, 19, and Ally, 16. "I'm from the Sex And The City generation, where women wake up an hour earlier to put on their make-up," she says. "My daughters barely brush their hair and would rather stay in bed a little longer than put on make-up. Compacts and brushes are old school to them. They are always on the go and don't want to look like they're trying too hard with cosmetics. They were like, why can't make-up be fast, easy, fun and simple?" And it became clear to her that there was a "white space" in the market for fuss-free cosmetics.
"Nudestix is a simple concept. The industry has made cosmetics complicated for so long," she notes. With two decades of experience in the beauty industry, she would know. The chemical engineer graduated from the University of Toronto and one of her first jobs was in the research and development unit of MAC Cosmetics. There, she helped formulate the brand's iconic gloss with a clear sheen, Lipglass. In 2000, she co-founded CoverFX, a make-up brand for those with troubled and sensitive skin. She sold her stake in CoverFX in 2011 to retire and "enjoy" her daughters. But by May last year, the entrepreneur was ready to be back in the beauty game. So far, she has pumped in more than half a million dollars into the business.
Nudestix was launched at multi-brand cosmetics retailer Space.NK's stores in the United States. Today, it is also available in Sephora stores and other retailers in Canada and the US. For Ms Frankel, starting another beauty label was just a matter of reaching out to her contacts. "I know all about cosmetic formulas, where to find the right manufacturers and ingredients to make the texture just so. Like how the concealer must be creamy enough to be blended with the fingers, but has to set matte," she says.
She also knows which countries "make the best products in each category". For instance, Nudestix's lip products and mascara are from Italy, while its brow products are made in South Korea. As for the shades, she relies on her daughters. Ally is still in school, while Taylor is taking a break from her studies to work full time at Nudestix. "They design the colours and are involved in product development. They like easy neutrals that are matte with the right amount of 'dirtiness'. They don't like gloss or colours that are too bright. The textures have got to be creamy, but nondrying. They want the I-justwoke-up stained and smudged look," Ms Frankel says.
She adds: "Their opinions are clear and specific. If the chemists come up with something my daughters will not wear, the product gets scrapped." The teenagers are the faces of the brand's campaigns and handle its social media accounts too. Ms Frankel observes: "Millennials are on Instagram all the time. If they don't follow the brand on Instagram, they won't know it even if there is a billboard in front of them because they're all looking down at their phones."
Taylor manages Nudestix's Instagram account (@nudestix, with more than 30,000 followers), creates online content, reaches out to the press and bloggers and trains and educates the staff that man Nudestix counters. Ally helms the brand's Twitter account . "The girls are leading communication with clients. It is a real voice. They caption the pictures on Instagram and followers can relate to them," says Ms Frankel.
She insists, however, that her products are made not just for carefree teenagers, but also busy women with families and careers who "have only three minutes to spend on their make-up". "The pencils are not made for women of a certain age, but of a certain lifestyle. Women like me have homes and careers and the only thing we don't have is time. Nudestix is for women who want something easy and fast and want to look better so they feel good about themselves."
A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on November 5, 2015. For more stories like this, head to www.straitstimes.com.