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"
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.