When Toronto-based sisters Ally and Taylor joined forces with their mom Jenny Frankel to launch a new line of less-is-more beauty products, they were aged 14 and 17 respectively. The trio co-founded NUDESTIX in 2014 to fill a niche they saw in the beauty market for minimal, natural-looking makeup that was easy to apply for the on-the-go, no-fuss millennial. Their Crayola-meets-Chanel product line features a collection of pencil-crayon inspired cosmetics for the face, lips, and eyes, offered in a range of nude colours for all skin types and tones.
The girls’ mission: to make women feel empowered by accentuating their features rather than burying their face in makeup. And they do this all while keeping their cosmetics preservative- paraben- gluten- and cruelty-free. Effortless, inclusive, and ethical? Basically — and I say this as a millennial myself — they have our generation’s values down pat. Sign me up. Here, I chat with Ally and Taylor about going into business as young women, their go-to beauty products, and what NUDESTIX is all about.
Tell us about your journey to founding NUDESTIX. How did the brand come about?
Ally: We decided to create a makeup brand because the everyday woman just wants to feel beautiful in her own skin. Way back when in 2013 and 2014, there was only “more-is-more” makeup in stores, which were intimidating to walk into to begin with. My sister and I would still go into our mother’s makeup to find something to use because nothing related to our needs in the beauty industry at the time. There was really only “more-is-more” makeup or skincare and nothing in between for that everyday woman or girl on-the-go who didn’t have an hour to do their makeup or didn’t know how to use compacts or brushes. We created NUDESTIX out of a necessity for natural looking, easy to use makeup that we found the market was missing.
Taylor: We identified a niche in the beauty industry for a makeup brand that was relatable to the modern day women. She craves makeup that is easy, fast, and effortless to enhance her natural features. She does not have an interest in spending over 30 minutes on her makeup routine — because let’s be real, we would all rather sleep in an extra 10 minutes in the morning.
So NUDESTIX is built around crayons and pencils – what was behind this decision?
A: We chose the ‘stix’ aspect because it’s so intuitive and makes for easy makeup application. We’ve been using pencils since such a young age that they feel so natural in our hands. Pencils also make it super easy to pinpoint areas for coverage and get into those precise areas. Pencils also cut down the amount of products in your makeup bag because with one Lip + Cheek pencil you have your lip liner, colour, and cheek blush right there. Also, with so much technology nowadays, it’s “artisanal” to have pencils.
T: We loved the pencil concept for a few reasons: One, Ally and I are not makeup artists (full disclosure). Pencils are super easy to use. You literally cannot go wrong. You don’t need tools or brushes for application. Two, pencils are multi-use — essentially, you can use pencils all over the face, whether it’s an eye, lip, or brow product. For the everyday girl on the go, she craves multi-functional products to fit into her multi-functional life. Three, they’re super chic — they feel a lot cooler and more modern that your typical makeup compact or palette.
What made you guys decide to keep NUDESTIX preservative- parabens- gluten- and cruelty-free?
A: Quality in makeup products is so important to us. We believe that a part of going nude-but-better is taking care of your skin — not using any harmful ingredients. Also, we are cruelty-free, and go through extreme extents to do this in countries such as China, because we love animals and cannot fathom harming them in the making of beauty products.
T: No animal testing is something that is extremely important to both Ally and I. Our generation specifically feels very strongly about purchasing strictly cruelty-free brands, which is amazing—it’s great to see that clients are increasingly asking the questions and becoming more aware. As a result, when launching [in] China, we made sure to research and create a supply chain within China to bypass animal testing. In turn, we are one of the first cruelty-free brands to enter China.
What are your individual roles in the business? What unique perspective or skill do you think you each bring?
A: I prefer the back-end of the business. I admire Taylor for being so good with being up-front-and-centre all the time. It’s exhausting and lots of hard work.
T: My role as a co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer (CIO) consists of inspiring our international and local NUDESTIX team, followers, and clients through in-store events, education, and content creation, as well as serving as the NUDESTIX voice on our social platforms. As a Chief Inspiration Officer, I think I bring a unique perspective not only as a millennial consumer, but also by travelling to all of our markets internationally—I am able to bring a global perspective to up-and-coming product launches and trends.
So your mom has a lot of experience in beauty (having worked at both MAC Cosmetics and Cover FX previously), and she must be really inspiring to work with. What have you learned from her?
A: I’ve learnt so much from my mom. She’s such an inspiration. She has taught me the meaning of hard work and dedication, and being on stage no matter what.
T: AKA, if you’re working, you give it your all no matter if you have to go to the bathroom, or how exhausted or sick you are.
Tell us about your signature hashtag #GONUDEBUTBETTER.
A: To me, #gonudebutbetter means to embrace your natural beauty and only wear what you need to feel comfortable and beautiful in your own skin.
T: The meaning behind #gonudebutbetter is essentially looking like the best version of yourself. I believe in embracing one’s uniqueness, quirkiness, and imperfections, because these are the qualities that make us perfect. There is something so simple yet so powerful in the words “nude, but better.” As girls and women, nude is something that incites vulnerability — but yet, to feel beautiful in our most natural state is extremely empowering. Beyond the emotive meaning, our makeup range is shades of neutral, and therefore enhances your natural features without looking or feeling like you’re wearing a mask of makeup.
Who are your beauty icons and why?
A: I’m a huge fan of women who readily embrace the less is more attitude and look, even in the spotlight. This is why some women who I love to watch are Lily Collins, Vanessa Hudgens and Shay Mitchell.
T: Besides Cara Delevingne — her brows and quirkiness — my personal beauty icon is my mother. She has taught me the power of beautiful beyond one’s outer and physical appearance. Beautiful is kind, smart, confident, and successful.
And you guys founded the company in 2014, right? How has it evolved since then?
A: Well, we’ve definitely expanded globally since our launch and we have also delved deeper into markets having more presence. The NUDESTIX product range has also really evolved as we’re constantly innovating our product range. The brand has also evolved, as my sister and I have matured over the years. We continue to position ourselves in the market as “Crayola meet Chanel,” or luxury makeup crayons, however our look and feel has become more street chic and modern but still fun and relatable.
T: Since 2014, we have increased our distribution internationally. As of now, we are available in Canada, U.S, Mexico, Europe, South East Asia, China, and Australia. In addition we have expanded our NUDESTIX assortment — in 2017 alone we have launched 2 iconic, cult products — the Magnetic Matte Lip Colors and Nudies All-Over Face Colors and Glows.
Ally, you just started med school in Ireland, right? That’s so exciting! What brought you there? And how’s it going so far?
A: Yes, so far it’s going good. [I’m] really trying to adapt to this new lifestyle. After being so involved with my family and being close to them all the time it’s definitely an adjustment living on my own in a new continent, so far away. I really am enjoying my classes though; my professors are super interesting and so are my lectures so far.
What about you, Taylor? Are you in school as well? Or what are you up to these days?
T: I am currently working full time for Nudestix. My travel schedule takes up the majority of my time.
So, tell us about your signature “three products in three minutes” regime.
T: We call this your #SNAPNUDESTIXMAKEOVER. Three products in three minutes: My go-to products for the perfect no-makeup makeup look are definitely the Eyebrow Stylus + Gel, Concealer Pencil, and Nudies.
And what’s your beauty regime, Ally?
A: In the morning I start by toning and cleansing my face with Reversa Micellar Water and then moisturizing my skin with Avène light skin cream, followed by my makeup application, which is usually some NUDESTIX Concealer, Lash Lengthening Mascara, and a nude Lip + Cheek pencil. If it’s the weekend, I definitely put more of an effort into my makeup routine, and will probably spice it up with some eye shadow and maybe a bold lip. At night I wash off my makeup with the same Reversa Micellar, every other night I use my Mario Badescu enzyme face wash and if necessary apply my Kate Somerville acne lotion, followed by my Laneige overnight water face mask.
What are your favourite products?
A: Definitely the products I use in my everyday beauty regime have become my favourites. My favourite NUDESTIX product, if I had to pick one, would be my Concealer Pencil—it’s amazing! I have super sensitive skin — eczema, oily, acne-prone etc. — and it’s really hard to find a concealer that really suits my needs. Our concealer is medium-to-buildable coverage, meaning that I continue to apply as I need and the coverage will build without looking like I have anything on. The pencil makes it super easy to target any necessary coverage areas. Also, the formula itself is dermatologically tested (RIPT testing: got a 0 like water) so I know it’s safe to use on my very sensitive skin. The creamy matte formula blends super nicely into the skin but also sets matte so even though I have really oily skin, I don’t need to worry about using a setting powder afterwards.
T: Wow, how can I even choose! I’d have to say Concealer Pencil, Eyebrow Stylus + Gel, Nudies Matte, and Glow and Mascara. Honestly, I really don’t use other makeup brands. I have tried many products, but they are not a part of my everyday makeup regime.
Do you have any advice you could share with our readers on going into business as young women with confidence?
A: Embrace your unique self! If you’re quirky or have been teased for your eyebrows before (AKA Taylor), that’s what makes you unique and beautiful and — most of all — stand out. The only person’s opinion that really truly matters is your own, so if you love yourself then that’s what will make you comfortable and happy in your own skin. This applies personally and in business, so it’s important to stay true to your mission statement — what is your product/service/brand’s purpose, and why do people need it? This is what will keep your branding super clear to your customers and viewers. Don’t be afraid of failure, do your research, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in different areas so that you can trust your delegates and have strengths in all areas, network and find others in your field, and learn from them.
T: Be authentic. Create a very clear emotive and rational reason to exist as a brand/product/service. Always remember who your client is, and constantly engage with him or her whether it be through social platforms or in-store services. Don’t be afraid to be your unique and authentic self, and never apologize for having a voice or speaking on what you believe in. Be disruptive. Be innovative. Always be one step ahead of the consumer, not two — or else you lose them! Always be open to learn, and surround yourself with people who are just as passionate, dedicated, and oftentimes more knowledgeable than you. It takes a village. Most importantly, be okay with failure. Most likely, you will pick yourself up and use those experiences to learn.