Creators of MEMI makeup, Jack Thompson and Millie Watson, on ‘millennial makeup’ & taking risks while young
Millennials are transforming the beauty industry, says everyone from Forbes to the Financial Post. The figures speak for themselves: women aged eighteen to 34 are said to be the 'heaviest buyers of beauty products in the $13 billion cosmetics industry'. Everything from the success of Kylie Jenner’s lip kits to cult brands such as Glossier can be attributed to twenty-somethings with a large online following and a knack for great selfies. It’s no wonder there’s a growing rise of young beauty entrepreneurs empowered to be not just the consumer but the supplier.
Much like 21-year-old Jack Thompson and Millie Watson. Fresh out of Leeds City College, the duo from Otley, West Yorkshire, recently launched a cruelty-free makeup range featuring eye shadow palettes, cosmetic brushes and skincare products. It’s called MEMI – or 'Me, Myself and I’ - and, designed for 16-22 year olds, boasts tongue in cheek shade names such as ‘Kiss n Tell’ luxe lipstick, ‘Bout Dat Booty’ eyeshadow and ‘Man Eater’ blush. There's even an eyeshadow palette called 'millennial'.
So MEMI’s target audience is quite clear – but what does millennial makeup even look like?
“The tagline 'millennial makeup’ is a bit of fun – there’s definitely a playful side to it,” explains Millie. “But the range is open to everyone, however you want to interpret the products. There was a trend for really bold colourful eye shadows and big bright colours on Instagram for a while but we wanted to do something with more natural, buildable coverage – we see ourselves quite like Bobbi Brown’s younger sister.”
Though young in both clientele and operation, Millie and Jack’s fledgling brand has matured quickly. In the eighteen months it took the team to produce and manufacture their products - having quit their jobs in the process – MEMI is swiftly growing in popularity and their affordable price tag is helping. Prices range from £10 for an eyeliner to £45 for a set of brushes.
“We noticed there was a gap in the market - something that was luxury but was at an affordable price point. MEMI is all about challenging the idea that people have to pay a premium for a quality product,” they say. “It’s an outdated concept which no longer appeals to the digital generation who are looking for a much more transparent relationship with the brands they choose to engage with.”
...going cruelty-free is something all brands can do - if we're able to do it at 20-years-old then why not bigger corporations?
Jack and Millie also aim to be transparent when it comes to the ingredients used in their makeup. MEMI products are manufactured in China and all products are cruelty-free - something they were keen to introduce right from the start.
“It did make the process harder and it took a lot of research,” explains Jack. “We saw five factories. It does make you think going cruelty-free is something all brands can do - if we are able to do it at 20-years-old then the bigger corporations should.”
“We have done everything ourselves: from sourcing materials and product testing, to regulatory compliance and order fulfilment, we have been involved with every aspect of bringing MEMI to life,” they say.
The friends stress MEMI has been the culmination of two years’ research, travel and sleepless nights and now they are beginning to see the fruits of their labour.
“It was a struggle and there was sacrifice,” says Jack. “On paper it seems a lot easier but there’s a lot you have to consider - like understanding all the regulations, for example."
With quality, ethical and, importantly, aesthetically pleasing products, the result of all their hard work seems to be a makeup line with great marketing potential.
What's their advice for other young people attempting to launch their own business?
“Take your time. Slow down – we identified things weren’t right and they became blessings in disguise. And then just go for it. We both had jobs which we quit. It was incredible daunting. Take the risk, it’s really hard but the rewards will come,” says Jack.
“Why not take the risk when you’re younger? If you are going to do it, do it now.”
Shop MEMI makeup and their fourteen-piece collection via the online store.