The Beauty Business | Florence Adepoju – Founder of MDMflow
In an industry where most beauty brands boil down to a handful of common denominator conglomerates, I truly relish launches from those that are niche and independent with a great backstory, and one that’s been on my radar as of late is MDMflow. All great things in fashion have hailed from the London College of Fashion, and now it seems the alumni are also contributing to the beauty industry with MDMflow‘s Florence Adepoju founding the brand in 2013 during her studies.
MDMflow has been going from strength to strength having recently launched the Greater Than Mascara and being stocked by my favourite beauty retailer, BeautyMART. The first time I came across Florence was at an event last year hosted by founder of WAH Nails, Sharmadean Reid, and I’ve since kept a close eye on the brand’s social media; it’s rare for brands to be so engaged with their audience from inception, but MDMflow does away with convention and is truly a modern cosmetics brand in every sense from its online presence to its product offering. Far from your summery coral or classic red, the MDMflow colour palette, inspired by 90s hip-hop, consists of a vampy black lipstick called Di La La, Milkshake which in the bullet resembles the deliciously thick and creamy strawberry beverage but develops according to one’s skin tone, and a deep blue Mas Marina.
I recently put some questions forward to Florence about MDMflow‘s humble beginnings, what the lipstick making process entails and where she draws inspiration from when deciding which shades to offer:
MDMflow’s Origins – “I got into the beauty industry at the age of 17, I was walking through my local shopping centre when I got traffic stopped by a counter manager, I told her I didn’t have money to buy products and she offered me a job on the spot. Since then I have acquired a BSc in Cosmetic Science and worked in the industry for various brands as a makeup artist, in events, product development and social media.
I was working on my final year project at university which in short explored how different colours affect people. I was making blue and purple lipsticks and everyone in my class wanted one. I knew I was onto something and decided to develop my final year project into the brand of my dreams.”
Being a Beauty Junkie – “If something new comes out I just have to try it, though I’ve set myself the task of only wearing MDMflow lipsticks, it challenges me to constantly improve my formula and make my lipsticks the best.”
Between Luxury and Mass Market – “I would consider MDMflow to be a mass-stige brand, it fits right in between luxury and mass market.”
The Process – “For the most part I just follow my pre-set instructions when mixing the oils, waxes and other ingredients I need to create the base. Creating colours is however a longer and separate process that has taken me up to 4 hours to get the right hue in the past. I melt my base and mix in my colour and pour the molten liquid into my moulds, I have really cool moulds from one of the best suppliers in the world and that really helps. Once the lipsticks have set in the moulds I put them in the cases by hand and there you have it.”
The Shades – “Initially I created shades I always wanted but could never find, now I get feedback from my customers as well as creating shades based on how I feel. Some shades have even been accidental.”
MDMflow Personified – “In the 90s Lil’ Kim‘s style was out of this world, her music’s infectious and she was just really young, bold and talented. Right now I’d say Rihanna, she knows how to mix low end, high end and street. She isn’t afraid to try something new and she just does not stop.”
On Social Media and Success – “Social media is so important, I always want to stay connected and true to the girls and guys that love and celebrate my brand. I get so many emails from people telling me they found my brand through Instagram and it’s literally the best feeling. It’s certainly a bonus of being a small business, that I get to in a way speak directly to everyone who interacts with my pages.”
Florence’s Science Background – “My scientific background has been a great help in all areas of developing my own product. Having the technical know how to formulate is a great advantage, there is no limit to what I can create. I would definitely recommend the Cosmetic Science degree to anyone who wants go into the cosmetics industry on any level.”
Challenges and Triumphs – “I’ve experienced loads of challenges but nothing big enough to stop me. I think the biggest challenge I face is fighting the fears. For me the only thing that overcomes fear of failure is working through it. I’ve also had many triumphs, I’ve just come back from a super successful retail event in Antwerp, as my business is predominantly online it’s a great feeling to host an event and get an incredible turnout.”
Five Months vs. Five Years – “In 5 months time, I’ll be in BeautyMART YAY! In 5 years time I’ll be all over the world. I want to see growth in my business in big and small ways as time goes on.”
Professional Inspirations – “So many people inspire me it’s hard to narrow it down, outside of the industry I’d say my biggest inspirations are Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor the founders of Juicy Couture. Their story is so inspiring and they dealt with so many roadblocks but eventually infected the world with their in-your-face colours and textures.”
In Her Makeup Bag – “MDMflow lipsticks literally everywhere, Sephora eyeliner, loads of NARS compacts – I think I own every blusher they do, marula oil and Algenist serum.”
Tips and Tricks – “Apply your lipstick to the middle of your lips and blend out, to avoid coming outside of the lip line.”
Florence’s Advice – “Be like Nike… Just Do It! It’s no easy process, cosmetic science does involve a lot of chemistry and your other standard school book sciences so definitely do research on entry requirements and be realistic about how much work it will entail.”