Ally and Taylor Frankel's brand Nudestix has taken the beauty market to task in the past year with its minimalist beauty aesthetic and easy application. The indie sensation has become a hit with the millennial generation rising up against make-up heavy faces and SWAAY talked to Taylor about leading the way forward with their minimalist movement.
“We do not aspire to look perfect and flawless - we just want to look like ourselves - but also, we just want something quick and easy, and to embrace our natural beauty"
The girls' mom left her high profile job back in 2011 so she could devote more time to her children's upbringing - an Eat, Pray, Love moment Taylor calls it, and with that she had more time to spend watching the girls, listening and observing their habits. Before long, the girls and their morning routine would come to resemble a family business opportunity the likes of which the billion dollar cosmetics industry has never seen.
In an era of youtubers and make-up tutorials, the girls made a break from the discerningly heavy and obvious make-up trends of old and saw a white space in the market for a more minimal, toned down look. Instead of trying to emulate beauty bloggers and celebrities, Ally and Taylor encourage you to look like yourself. And they're now attributed to one of the biggest trends of late - the stick and its multi-form, multi-use, hassle-free application.
The girls "multitasking lives" demanded a product that merely accentuated their best features rather than sculpting their entire face. There simply wasn't the time anymore for something extraneous. They aren't #MUAs nor do they profess to be; they're the everygirl, working to produce a line for girls like them to use quickly and efficiently everyday - and the stick form does this. Neutral shades are the girls go to and the sticks can thus become multipurpose - for your eye, lip and cheek.
"We're not make-up artists"
"The beauty industry talks a lot about perfection, flawlessness and make up artistry, 'full face' - and it totally turned us off"
Enter Nudestix - the make up brand for the millennial minimalist.
Sisters Ally(17) and Taylor(20) represent a youthful ignorance toward the by-gone age of Sex in the City whereby their mother and her peers would lather on make up and pour over their imperfections for superfluous amounts of time with brushes and creams before deeming themselves ready for the day ahead. Their Nudestix campaign 'Go Nude but Luminous' attests to a generation who care about their appearance but refuse to spend the amount of hours previous generations have spent layering on le macquiallage. "It was about enhancing what we already had" says Taylor. Having become a bit peeved at how the cosmetic industry was talking to women - instructing them on the heavy amounts of make-up it's deemed necessary to wear in our airbrushed world - the girls and their mother decided a neutral and minimalist approach was the future. “Even though there were all these beauty products out there," Taylor remonstrates, “they weren't talking to us about beauty the way we wanted to be talked to."
Their mother, Jenny Frankel, was mixer and make-up extraordinaire(the woman who brought you M.A.C's lipglass) before taking time off from her prolific career in cosmetics to focus on her daughters' upbringing - “our mom has been in the beauty industry for twenty years," Taylor laughs, “she co-created her own beauty brand while my sister and I were both in diapers." And so the story goes that when the girls grew up and start acquiring their own sense of style and makeup routines, Jenny recognized the difference in her daughters' routine versus her own, and saw an opening in the market for the busy millennials, and thereafter, Nudestix was found.
The girls and their mother have worked tirelessly to produce products that represent a new age of Make-up and a new trend that has very quickly caught on. It has become a niche in a market that almost demands superfluity - purple eyeshadows; sculpted faces; burlesque lips. "We like to think about make-up in a way a lot of people aren't talking about it," Taylor posits - "which is, you don't need to wear a full face. You can wear a little bit in strategic places to accentuate your features."
"We're your everyday girls - we're students, we're working"
Having rose quickly to fame because of their appearance on QVC, where they were allowed the run of the show - from curating to producing, you can now find the product pretty much everywhere - most notably on the shelves in Sephora. The brand 'for millennials, by millennials' is seriously hot stuff and was included in my round-up email last week from the make-up retailer. The girls have certainly started a trend, with many other makeup lines now adding multi-use pencils to their product lists.
"It's a trend now which is awesome," Taylor recognizes in her competition, "but for us, it was really about creating a product that was multi-use." The simplification of the beauty process and the accentuation of natural beauty having been their aim from the beginning its only natural that the brand has become such a success. We recently got to try the matte lip pencil and the highlighter, and as busy women constantly running around the city - these pencils are the very best product for the woman with little to no time. If these teens don't scream aspirational goals - I don't know who does.
"We want people to be able to say - these girls, they're your girls next door, if they can do it, so can we"
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."