New Makeup Brand LIPP Beauty Builds Custom Lipsticks To Build Women’s Confidence
During the winter of 2015, makeup artist Aleah Rae Dorsey was working at Nordstrom’s beauty department when a customer came in searching for a lipstick in a berry hue that was just so. Dorsey suggested some 30 shades, but nothing hit the mark.
“She said, ‘I really wish I could blend this Dior shade with that Chanel shade.’ For me, that was a lightbulb moment,” recounts Dorsey. “I went home that night and messed up a pan depotting lipstick and melting it to create a new color. That’s how it started.”
At that time, what started was Melt Your Makeup, Dorsey’s business selling lipsticks made from scratch to friends. Now, she’s turned that business into new brand LIPP Beauty, which is focused on customizing unique lipsticks and lip kits – over 1,000 color combinations are possible – to suit the unique needs of women.
“Women are different, what they like is different, and their moods are different. What they like today, they might not like Saturday,” says Dorsey. “Custom is so important because we are custom. We are multifaceted. We are not one note. That’s what is so great about LIPP. It allows you to explore that.”
LIPP Beauty offers various options for lip product exploration. Customers can purchase a fully bespoke so-called LIPPstick for $48 by uploading a photo providing inspiration, choosing a tube color, and a sheer, cream or matte finish. In addition, they can assemble personalized four-pan LIPP Kits for $50 or buy kits filled with pre-selected shades tailored to skin tones for $38.
“Custom is so important because we are custom. We are multifaceted. We are not one note. That’s what is so great about LIPP. It allows you to explore that.”
Finally, they can purchase 28 ready-to-wear lipstick shades for $24 each. Bestselling shades include Brazen, a shimmery brown harkening back to the ‘90s, rich purple Witty and a slew of reds from the bright Sassy to the deep Powerful. To help pair women with lipstick that’s right for them, LIPP Beauty’s website incorporates a LIPP Beauty Matchmaker quiz that recommends shades following a few quick questions.
Dorsey, whose beauty career has spanned the brands Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Smashbox, Yves Saint Laurent and Armani, wasn’t originally in the beauty industry. She was a middle school French teacher before taking a professional U-turn and landing a job as a receptionist at an Aveda concept salon. Makeup touchups were among her duties at the salon, and they sparked her passion for makeup artistry.
Dorsey’s teaching skills translate to LIPP Beauty. She hosts women at Fete by LIPP Beauty events to instruct them on beauty product application and guide them to lipstick shades they may not otherwise try. “I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, ‘My best friend wears a red lipstick, but I can’t pull it off.’ I want to help build their confidence and show them there’s an amazing red that will look good on them,” says Dorsey. “I really wanted to create a brand that helps women realize there are no rules in makeup. It’s all about what makes you feel your most confident.”
Next year, she plans to take LIPP Beauty’s events – and its products – to a lip bar location in Washington, D.C. Wholesale distribution is in the plans, too. Dorsey envisions LIPP Beauty fitting in stores that prioritize education. Nordstrom is high on her list of dream retailers.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, ‘My best friend wears a red lipstick, but I can’t pull it off.’ I want to help build their confidence and show them there’s an amazing red that will look good on them.”
“With wholesale, a big part of the brand will be me going into stores, doing training and showing the people in the store how to use my products. You can’t sell things you don’t understand,” says Dorsey. “You need to know the story behind the brand and why it’s special, and I know that from experience.”
She spent $25,000 to spiff up the aesthetics of LIPP Beauty for the market. Its lipstick tubes have Art Deco sensibilities, and its main brand colors are orange, gold, white and bluish green. Dorsey avoided red, pink and black to make LIPP Beauty stand out from the makeup crowds. “It’s feminine and strong,” she says of the design.
Early on, sales of the brand’s ready-to-wear lipsticks are outpacing sales from its bespoke program. Dorsey mentions the LIPP Beauty Matchmaker has become a popular tool with customers, buoying purchases of the ready-to-wear shades. LIPP Beauty’s core audience is made up of millennial women interested in putting together a wardrobe of lip colors for a myriad of occasions.
“They might work in an office in the day, but they also have a social life. They have a day color, but they also want something for going out,” says Dorsey. “They want more handholding than your average site can provide. They want direction. Even if they know to use makeup, they want to know what’s on trend.”
For its first year, Dorsey aims for LIPP Beauty to cross into profitability. She’s not in a rush for the brand to be huge. Dorsey says, “I’m pacing myself, staying in the moment, and celebrating the successes that are getting me a step closer to where I want to be.”