Milk Makeup co-founders chat Australian launch

It's been a week since Milk Makeup made its highly anticipated launch on Australian soil, and we don't know about you, but we're loving the clean, 100% vegan and cruelty-free offering so far.

Milk has been lauded as a brand on the forefront of gender fluidity, self-expression and inclusivity, and we're totally here for it. 

To celebrate the brand already making waves in Oz, BD spoke with Milk Makeup co-founders, Zanna Roberts Rassi and Dianna Ruth, about launching in the Aussie market, how the brand maintains its sustainable values and all things formulation and unique ingredients.

First up we spoke with beauty and fashion editor, as well as Milk Makeup co-founder, Zanna Roberts Rassi:

Milk was created as a result of noticing the brand's community and values were not represented within the beauty industry. Can you tell us a little bit more about this, and the process of creating Milk Makeup?

The genesis of Milk Makeup was Milk Studios downtown NYC. A hub for creativity that connected emerging and established talent across numerous industries - art, fashion, beauty and music. Trendsetters and early adopters. There were no clear trends or gender lines - everything was fluid and each person who walked through our doors had a style that was uniquely their own.

We wanted to challenge the idea of predictable (one-size-fits-all) beauty and provide products to this diverse community with makeup that serves as an extension of their creativity and a way to express themselves.

Simultaneously we wanted to create a line that took the mess out of makeup! We craved utilitarian and multifunctional makeup. Motivated in part by the fact all four of us were busy working parents to young children. We had very few minutes to spare to get ready, and usually one handed with children hanging off us!  We craved formulas that were multi-purpose, easy-to-use and clean!

MMU is an odd combo: Innovative in concept, utilitarian in use, and creative in spirit.

Creativity and self-expression are what Milk celebrates. Can you tell us about remaining a platform for creativity and self-expression for the Milk community? How do you engage and connect?

At concept, we took so much inspiration from the creative people who walked through our doors at Milk Studios, as well as the people we’d see on the streets every day in New York and other cities around the globe. They didn't all subscribe to beauty norms. They wore makeup to express themselves, never just because it was a trend. It was refreshing and inspiring.

We see this come to life socially through our social channels. We love our community’s feedback and we want to know what’s important to them. Being able to interact with people virtually and globally and instantly, is a game changer.

'Live your look' is the ethos Milk lives by. Can you talk us through Milk’s gender-neutral, accepting and inclusive point of view?

Our community and culture have always been our inspiration and we see personal style and experimentation as the ultimate forms of self-expression. It’s not just about how you create your look; it’s what you do in it that matters.

Since our inception, we have always championed “beauty for all” and our products are designed to be used by everyone. We’re committed to diversity and inclusivity, and we strive to ensure the people in our marketing campaigns and on our social feeds, the people you see wearing our products, are representative of that commitment.

How does Milk maintain its sustainable values and social and environmental responsibility?

While sustainability and environmentally-responsible ingredients and practices have always been important to the brand, it’s an evolving space. We will continue to monitor the ever-changing guidelines to ensure we’re constantly evolving and holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards.

We have three primary sustainability commitments that are currently in progress in 2021:

- Using less plastic for primary packaging and in-store merchandising by offering more refills (such as our new, refillable Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30), using more PCR (post-consumer resin) and recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
- Eliminating unnecessary secondary packaging and shipping materials. Where secondary packaging is needed, using more sustainable paper sources, inks and adhesives
- Working with sustainability-driven partners

Australia and New Zealand were thrilled to learn of Milk Makeup’s launch this March. Why do you think that the Australian and New Zealand customer will be so receptive to the Milk ethos of clean?

It's no coincidence that 70% of our international DM’s, emails, and messages over the last five years have been from Australia and NZ! The demand is real and we are thrilled the values align with those of MMU.

From the sleek packaging, ease of use, easy pay off, multitasking, mess free, skincare meets color,  epic payoff, the best ingredients. Bottom line, we share the core values of high concept and low maintenance!

Next up Milk Makeup co-founder, Dianna Ruth shared:

Clean, vegan and cruelty-free beauty products are what Milk is known for. Why is this so important to the brand and how do you adhere to these guidelines?

Clean, vegan and cruelty-free have always been a priority for the brand. However when it comes to clean, there is no universal definition.

We will continue to monitor the ever-changing guidelines to ensure we’re constantly evolving and holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards.

Easy to use, smart and multi-use products are at the core of the brand. Can you tell us more about the process of developing each product?

When we launched Milk Makeup five years ago, all of the founders were new parents. It made us appreciate products that were multi-purpose and easy to use because we were working and caring for young children - we didn’t have time for a huge beauty routine and we couldn’t carry 15 products around with us.

Personally, it’s also really important to me to create something first-to-market, whether that means a new ingredient, a new format or a breakthrough delivery system. The formula also has to be vegan and meet our clean and sustainability standards.

With all of this criteria in mind, it’s a process for us to create new products. Often times it starts with a general concept, like eyeshadow, for example, and I think about how I can make it better - more sustainable, cleaner, more effective and efficient - and I go from there.

What are some of the more unique ingredients in Milk products, and what are their benefits?

- Olive-derived squalane: This is a moisturising ingredient that mimics the squalene found in our own skin that diminishes over time.
- Hemp-derived cannabis seed extract: This is a moisturising agent in our KUSH formulas that helps nourish lashes and brows, while ensuring the formula goes on smoothly - and never dries crunchy.
- Blue agave: This ingredient helps to grip and set makeup without drying skin - you’ll find it in our hero Hydro Grip Primer and Hydro Set + Refresh Spray.
- Sichuan pepper: You’ll find this in our Electric Glossy Lip Plumper - it creates a tingling effect after application.
- Vegan plant-derived collagen: Moisturises to improve the appearance of skin texture, elasticity, and firmness.

Milk is a top 10 Sephora brand globally. What are the best selling products and why do you think this is? 

Our top sellers are KUSH High Volume Mascara, Hydro Grip Primer and Matte Bronzer in Baked. I think globally, there’s a growing desire from consumers to purchase clean and effective makeup formulas, and while there are plenty of mascara, primer and bronzer formulas on the market, there are not many who are both clean and high performing.

Mascara and bronzer are two of the most popular products you’d find in someone’s makeup bag. Primer, maybe not as much, but the formula is truly superior and appeals to everyone, from those who wear a full face of makeup to those who are just looking for super hydrated, glassy skin.

What products do you think the Australian and New Zealand customer will be eager to shop, and what would you recommend to someone who has not yet tried Milk Makeup?

KUSH High Volume Mascara is one of our most beloved products. The clean formula uses conditioning hemp-derived cannabis seed oil and heart shaped fibers to leave lashes fluffy, full, with lots of volume. Never crunchy.

Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30 is an amazing three in one formula: a tinted moisturiser, face oil and SPF in one. The shades are flexible and the formula leaves skin looking dewy. It also comes in a refillable dispenser which is better for the environment, and your wallet.

Hydro Grip Primer has a cult following. Primers are traditionally used by heavy makeup wearers - and the formula is great for that - but it also gives bare skin a beautiful, glassy sheen. Unlike most makeup primers, it’s super hydrating and 94% natural.

You can check out the Milk Makeup range at Sephora instore and online, here.