November’s Independent Spotlight is with the talented Tammy of Meow Cosmetics.
How long have you loved makeup?
I can tell you exactly. One day in 7th grade I came home from school and my Mum had bought me a whole assortment of makeup for my first school dance which was coming up in a few days. I remember it scattered all over the bathroom vanity. Bottles and tubes and pretty colored eyeshadows…I was in awe. That was it, I was hooked.
So where drugstore brand makeup and I were concerned, it may have been love at first sight, but it definitely wasn’t meant to be. The breakouts started almost immediately, the foundation (liquid “goop” as it’s know in the MMU circles!) just didn’t work for me and it wasn’t long before I was a connoisseur of department store brands, like Clinque and Lancome. That worked better for me, and my love affair with cosmetics was born.
What made you decide to make your own?
You know that old expression about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, creating my own line of cosmetics was necessary for me. I have the most reactive skin of anyone I have ever known. Every time I found a foundation I could wear without breaking out, the manufacturer would discontinue it. Because my breakouts and skin sensitivities were severe – sometimes taking MONTHS to heal, foundation wasn’t just makeup to me – it was a lifeline to help me face the world. And every time my foundation was discontinued, the search for another brand that I could wear safely would take months, while my skin suffered in the process.
By making my own formulation, I would always have a foundation that I could wear safely that would never be discontinued. Meow’s Purrrfect Puss Foundation is *my* foundation. It’s what I wear every day, and I will never again have to worry about my makeup being discontinued!
How did you come up with the name Meow Cosmetics?
I give full credit to my husband Matt for the name of the company. I have always loved a mysterious cat eye logo since I saw the movie Assassins many years ago. The female heroine- a hacker – used a cat eye logo and nothing else. It really resonated with me, so when we were brainstorming names for the company and Matt said “Meow Cosmetics”, I instantly pictured the cat eye logo we could use, and I was sold.
How many hours a day do you work? Days a week?
All of them. LOL. I used to work about 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, with one lighter day – usually Saturday or Sunday- which would clock in around 4-5 hours of work. I’m not a morning person AT ALL, so I usually try and start after I’m fully awake and have had a coffee which is usually about 10am or so . Right now I’m in love with 100% dark roast Hawaiian Kona. It takes a strong coffee to get me going in the morning! Coffee or not, though, after about 4 years of working 18 hours a day, it started to feel like I hit a wall. I had to slow down. Meow is my passion, so it’s been tough to stop. What I’ve done this last year is make a concerted effort to pace myself more, accept what doesn’t get finished as an opportunity for tomorrow!
Truth is, I had an epiphany. I could really call it a moment of clarity. I woke up one day and realized that every day I try and “finish” Meow. It was as though each day when I woke up and went to the office I thought today was the day I was going to finish everything, and put Meow into some mythical enormous Rubbermaid box with a label on it, put on the lid and sit it on a giant shelf somewhere. I’m a perfectionist, and I’m definitely a “finisher”, I don’t go to bed with my kitchen a mess (my grandmothers rule), and I don’t leave things undone and unfinished at the end of the day, period. But I had to realize that Meow is not a “project”. Meow is a business and I’m not supposed to “finish” it. It is supposed to grow and continue and live day to day. So coming to terms with that has been an ongoing process for me, and one that’s helped me to get my work hours down to about 80/week, M-F.
Can you tell us about your staff?
Meow is comprised of myself plus 7 part time staffers. Lori Jeff and Shirley have been with Meow the longest, Cat and Elynor handle Customer Service, Jen does color consulting for our clients and Rachel is still in training. I occasionally bring in extra help when we are particularly busy. We’re a close knit group and it’s a funny, wise cracking low key (read: politically incorrect!) atmosphere in the office. There’s lots of espresso, and lunch is frequently Chinese food. We just moved into a new 3500+ square foot facility a few months ago, and it’s really been wonderful.
What is your favorite product to create?
Eyeshadow! I love eyeshadow. I can get blissfully lost in a creative frenzy for hours formulating new shadow colors. It is the ultimate creative stream of consciousness for me, and sometimes when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night (which happens often, I’m a life long insomniac) I have been known to drive to Meow and make new eyeshadows!
What’s your least favorite product to create?
Foundation. It’s like swimming in an endless sea of … beige. I make several pounds of each color at a time, it’s time consuming, tedious and a bit draining. It tires me.
What are your favorite colors to wear?
For clothes and eyeshadow I love teals, aquas, purple, vivid lime, rich chocolates and of course – leopard prints.
What are your favorite colors that you’ve created?
IdealEyes: Sunrise (my go-to shade with a tan after a day at the pool!), You Had Me At Meow
WildChild: Sexy Time, Sexy Pants
The Lost Rainforest: Amazon, Mantis and Tropical
Friday the 13th: Accident and Skeptic
Caribbean Escape: Beach (if I only have to time to swipe on one shadow color in a hurry, this is it)
12 Pains of Xmas: Party Crasher, Batteries not Included, Hangover
Halloween Colors: Full Moon and Witches brew – though each and every one is near and dear to my heart, since Halloween is my favorite holiday!!
What is your absolute favorite eye shadow color ever?
The Lost Rainforest: Mantis I adore this color as a dry shadow, and it is ELECTRIC and nearly GLOWS when you wetline with it.
What are your favorite lip colors?
I love sheer shades, so I can wear any color I like.
What is your favorite beauty trend?
I love that wild eye shadow colors are everywhere now! Life is too short for neutrals!
Do you have a signature scent?
I don’t wear perfume often, but I adore Hanae Mori Butterfly. It’s the only perfume that has endured with me over the years.
Do you have a trademark look or trademark colors?
Orange. Orange. Orange. I love orange. There’s actually a cute story behind what began my lifelong passion for the color Orange. When I was about 5 my parents took me to Disney World. I had a new outfit to wear, and it was bright orange with a little bouquet of flowers on the shirt. I loved it, but I wasn’t allowed to wear it until that first day we arrived at the Magic Kingdom. It was the first time I fell in love with an article of clothing, and orange has been my favorite color ever since.
Do you ever look at the runways for inspiration or trends?
Constantly – I adore the runways. What I love most is being able to take those far out ultra glam styles and translate the color trends into shadow and blush hues that our customers can wear every day. While most of our clientele will likely never wear a runway fashion trend to run errands, I just love that you can take a little piece of the runways – the eyeshadow colors, for example – everywhere you go.
What do you prefer to look at for inspiration when you’re in the mood to create something new?
You’ll laugh, but most of my inspiration comes from my own vanity table I’ll be putting on my makeup for the day, and WANT something I DON’T have. Meow’s mineral undereye concealers, Skinny Dippers, Sunsplashers and ALOT of our shadows have come about that way.
What’s your skincare routine?
My skin is crazy sensitive to everything – fragrance in particular, so I’ve found that less is more and I keep things very very simple. I wash my face 2-3x a day with original Cetaphil, and use Retin-A. That’s about it.
What colors have you dyed your hair?
Usually a strong warm Red, as that’s my preferred shade. though I was briefly blue and purple, too, but I was younger then.
What’s your favorite way to accessorize?
I’m a purse and bracelet fanatic. Currently my Michael Kors Rehearsal Satchel is the love of my life. I own it in yellow and purple. I just think carrying a great bag with a gorgeous bracelet on your wrist can improve your entire outlook on your day. I guess purses and bracelets are fashion accessories that are really for YOU, since they are visible to you all day long, unlike earrings and necklaces, which only others can see. I have 2 signature bracelets I wear each and every day, one is a weighty 18kt greek key ribbon bracelet with a big daisy charm on the clasp, and the other is the (mostly orange!) Pandora charm bracelet my Mum bought me last year for Christmas. It was the last Christmas gift I received from her before she passed away from breast cancer, and wearing it every day is like having a little bit of her with me wherever I go. I treasure it.
Can you tell us about any upcoming collections?
Why of course I can tell you about them. But then I’d have to kill you. Nah – seriously though, that’s Top Secret! But I *can* tell you there are FOUR amazing new color palettes on my desk RIGHT NOW. At least one of them, maybe more, will be released in November. They are gorgeous, and I’m so thrilled with them, they’ve made me very happy recently, and I’m really excited to get them programmed and launched.
What’s your favorite chocolate?
Dark Chocolate – though I adore all things chocolate, in any shade.
Do you have any pets?
Oh boy do I! I’m an avid aquarist and have many 125 gallon freshwater aquariums housing Australian Rainbows, show quality Malawi Cichlids, and pearlscale Angelfish to name a few.
I also have a bearded dragon (Jura), a yellow lab (Hank) and of course 2 Siamese Cats (Pixel and Skittles).
Do you play any video games?
Truth be told, I’m more of a board game girl, I love monopoly and most board games are irresistable to me. I do play alot of app games on my ipad, though. My favorites right now are Angry Birds and Assassains Creed.
What are your favorite authors or books to read?
I have an extensive audiobook collection at Meow and listen to audiobooks constantly. My favorites authors are Sidney Sheldon, Dean Koontz and Agatha Christie. I adore true crime non-fiction, science fiction and serial killer mysteries and thrillers.
What are your favorite tv shows?
ANYTHING STAR TREK. I’m a die hard TREKKIE. I also love the X-Files, 24, Medium and Law & Order Special Victims Unit.
What is your office like currently?
My offices are a picture of efficiency. I adore efficient design, and have just redone both my office at home and at Meow. I rely on a 3 monitor setup for most everything, and both my offices are painted bright orange, naturally.
What color is your bedroom?
Meow Acid-Green as an accent wall paired with a brushed yellow, with grape and chocolate accents
What colors do you like to decorate with in your home?
I decorate with alot of fall colors, rust, copper, cinnamon, taupes and you guessed it – pumpkin orange.
What do you do to relax?
Not nearly enough. I love gardening, both in my yard and in my aquariums. Maintaining either our amazingly beautiful aquariums our any of the outdoor landscaping really relaxes me.
What do you do to pamper yourself?
I Shop. If shopping was an Olympic Sport, I would be a gold medallist. Usually a new handbag will do the trick. I have my eye on another Anuschka as we speak…
What’s on your iPod?
I get this question at least 2-3x a month in my inbox. I think it’s interesting cause it’s sort of a snapshot of who you are. You can find everthing from Olivia Newton-John & Billy Joel to Shriekback & Eminem on my ipod. Currently my favorite songs are Love the Way You Lie & So Bad by Eminem and Liquor Store Blues by Bruno Mars. I put the three of them on repeat while I’m formulating products at Meow and just let them loop.
Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise your customers?
Probably! Betcha Didn’t Know…that I was on Wheel of Fortune and won! I played with Jerome Bettis from the Pittsburgh Steelers. We went to the bonus round, the answer to the puzzle was “Bambi and Thumper” and I took home $38,050. Avery was in second grade at the time, and he and my Mum got to run out on stage and meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White at the end of the show. It was a blast and a great experience for my “life resume”.
Thank you so much Tammy! I really appreciate you letting me interview you.