When I was 17 I was barely functioning as a human. When Taylor Frankel was the same age, she was creating the first iteration of Nudestix, which would go on to become a global makeup sensation with her mum and sister. Frustrated with the “full face or nothing” approach to makeup dominating the industry at the time, Taylor, Ally (then 14) and their mum Jenny realised there were no beauty brands that gave a “no makeup” look. And, typical of any teens, the girls wanted to sleep in, and still be able to create a look quicksmart in the morning.
Luckily for these girls, their mum was already a chemical engineer who’d created signature products for M.A.C Cosmetics and started the beauty brand Cover FX. So with a common goal of creating makeup that enhanced people’s natural features and didn’t take a pro hand to apply, the trio got to work.
I spoke to Taylor about her inspiration for the brand, her go-to products for a five-minute look and what’s next for the global makeup powerhouse.
How did Nudestix start?
After 12 years of working with Cover FX our mum she decided to take this “Eat Pray Love” moment, which became an opportunity for her to connect with my sister and I. She really had no intention of starting another beauty brand but by connecting with us – in real life and on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter (without being overly stalkerish, of course) she really got inspired by the way my sister and I viewed beauty.
She comes from the generation where everything was about more. More colour, more coverage, more time, more steps, more tool more artistry, more perfection, And my sister and I were like “Well we kinda wanna sleep in an extra ten minutes in the morning rather than do our makeup.”
It wasn’t that we didn’t want to wear makeup, it’s that we felt like the only options out there were to wear full face or nothing, or to wear colour or nothing, or to use tools or nothing. So we wanted to create a brand and enter this space that the beauty industry wasn’t talking to.
Our brand is about less-is-more beauty that’s easy, fast, effortless, all shades of neutral for all skin tones – that’s really our philosophy, so that was the inspiration behind Nudestix.
So as teens you just sat down with your mum and created this beauty brand? That’s the dream!
Absolutely! We knew our concept, we knew what we wanted our product assortment to be, we knew what we wanted our aesthetic to be, our product packaging, our messaging… So we would go to these beauty trade shows where you found suppliers from different markets, whether it be Korea, Italy, Germany and we would actually collect different innovations and formulas. We would sit at the kitchen table and my mum would show us colours. She’d say, “What do you think of this?” And we’d be like, “Well that’s pink, mum!” And she’d be like, “Oh no but its a neutral pink.” And we’d be like, “It’s pink still… not neutral.” So that’s what the process was. We would take innovations and then tweak them and make them our own.
What products were in your first release?
We started with a really simple collection of makeup crayons. Staples we felt we needed for everyday wear. We had a concealer, our creamy lip and cheek pencils, mascara, eyeshadow pencils.
Where did you launch your first collection?
Our first retailer was an apothecary-type store in the UK and we had an exclusivity deal with them for three to four months. The best thing was they did all the press for us. It was so great because as a small brand we couldn’t really afford to do the mass media other brands could do.
Once it started to get traction and press and buzz, we had Sephora come to us! And we were like [gasps]!. We played it cool, “Yeah we’ll see, we might have to check our schedule… YEAH SURE OK!” We launched Sephora in the US and Canada, then Sephora South East Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico… so Sephora is our largest global distribution partner, we are VERY loyal and we love them! It’s been so great because, especially if you are exclusive to Sephora because you have exclusive press events and they send the product to influencers, and they know the intricacies and differences in the markets. Sephora has been so helpful in terms of helping us with that.
So when you started out you’d have been so young! What was it like playing with the big guns so early in your life?
Being a 17-year-old and being in a high-level meeting with executives was obviously a little intimidating, but I think it’s actually made me be prepared and make sure I knew my stuff. I think that having a support system like my mum, she’s incredible and always given me the confidence to have a voice in the industry and have that confidence to speak up when I need to. She’s always trusted my voice and she’s always given me the opportunity ,myself and my sister to speak, whether it be in a meeting or at a press event or with clients. She gave us that opportunity and said, “Take it. Own it. I have faith in you and I trust you.”
All your products come in purse-worthy tins, what was the inspiration behind them?
My sister Ally was 14 [when we started Nudestix] and if you know anything about anyone who is Gen Z or digital generation, they want to save the planet yesterday. She thought there was so much packaging in the beauty industry and thought why don’t we use a system where there was no packaging to throw away? We created our tins and you reuse them, you recycle them, use them to store bobby pins, hair ties, jewellery, everything. They’re so great and there is a mirror inside so you can always do your makeup on the go.
So I notice you and your sister do a lot of modeling across the brand, is that something that’s important to you?
YES! So actually there are a few reasons why we are the models. Firstly we are a small brand, so we obviously want to save as much money as possible but also we wanted to keep it super authentic and relatable. We wanted to be the girls next door, and that’s who we are.
Say you have five minutes to get ready, what Nudestix products do you grab and where do you apply them?
So I would start with our new Tinted Blur Stick, which is our first ever complexion product – think of like a BB cream or a tinted moisturiser in a stick. It provides you with four things: it tints to even skin tone; it provides beautifully even coverage; it blurs the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles because it has ingredients like PMMA, which is what they use in injectables; and you can also use it to blot. You can actually use it as a touch-up blotting stick over foundation to diffuse the appearance of oils. You can also use to highlight and contour!
Next I’d grab our Nudies All Over Face Color Matte, which are a three-in-one eyes lips and cheeks product. I love these because for the mornings when I can’t even I just swipe it on my eyes my lips my cheeks and use the synthetic brush on the end to blend. And then I also love, love, love our Eyebrow Stylus because on one side is a triangular pencil tip but on the other side there’s a spoolie with a waterproof setting gel. So if you have, like, literally seconds in the morning you use one side to fill and shape the brow and one to set it in place all day.
So between you, your mum and your sister, who does what within the brand?
My mum is the CEO, so she oversees the day-to-day at Nudestix whether that be marketing strategy, finance, product development, making sure our strategy is in place. On my end, I work closely with the marketing and content teams, I oversee social media and make sure everything is on-brand, making sure we create relevant content for our retailers and our clients. I also work closely with our retailers to do press and to educate, so I travel overseas a lot. Then I work closely with mum ensuring we develop products relevant to our client and that are on-trend, using my experience from travelling and my knowledge from social media.My sister, she is a very smart little lady! She’s now in medical school! She wants to be a dermatologist so we said go off and do that. If she’s home and we wanna do content with her or press with her, she will always be a part of the story. Nudestix will always be her baby but she IS in medical school so she must focus on that first.
What’s next for Nudestix?
We’re so excited about working with a celebrity makeup artist, her name is Mary Phillips. She’s the artist for the Jenners, the Kardashians, Chrissy Teigen, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Lopez… she does beautiful makeup. We’ve collaborated with her and she created her own Nudestix palette and we will be collaborating with her in the future to create her own shades. It’s been getting such great buzz and it’s getting a lot of shoutouts on social media from, like, the Kardashian community so that’s been so awesome. We can’t wait to show you!
Nudestix are available from Sephora Australia.