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Melt Cosmetics Founders Stress Accessibility

The beauty brand founders respond to customers personally, and brand parties are open to influencers and customers alike.

The story of Melt Cosmetics — an e-commerce-based beauty brand — started at a department store.

The brand’s founders, Lora Arellano and Dana Bomar, worked across from each other in the makeup department at Nordstrom. As they moved up the chain, they found themselves doing less makeup, being less actively creative and focusing more on paperwork, the duo said.

Over lunch one day six years ago, they decided to launch a company to get a product they wanted and couldn’t find — truly matte lipsticks in unusual colors.

“We wanted a true matte and it didn’t exist,” Bomar said. “You’d seen many matte lipsticks, but never in the color blue or green or orange or hot pink in this true matte formula,” Arellano added.

“Back then we were still working at a counter for some companies that are probably watching us now,” Arellano said. “We didn’t want to get fired, so we had to keep it hush-hush.”

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To do that, but still generate buzz, the pair started mentioning all of the makeup they were wearing in Instagram posts, and tagging Melt Cosmetics, which at that point was just a blank page. By the time the products launched, Melt had amassed more than 20,000 followers — a lot for 2012. Now, the brand has about 2.7 million followers on Instagram.

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“It had no pictures, no information, and it built this insane anticipation and insane excitement around what was this thing we were doing,” Bomar said.

“Our customers trust us to show them what is cool,” Bomar said. “We never chase any trends, we want to create them.”

Now, Melt has more products than just matte lipstick — the brand has launched lip liners, eye shadows and highlighters all with prestige price points. But the brand’s main focus, besides its products, is on being accessible, Arellano and Bomar stressed.

That accessibility, of Arellano and Bomar themselves but also of the brand, started on Day One, when the pair opened up their launch party to everyone.

“When we throw an event, it’s not an influencer event, it’s for our customers,” Bomar said. Their accessibility spans from selfies with customers to responding to Snapchats and other messages — and can wind up helping with product development.

“If I see a comment where somebody wants a glossy eyelid that doesn’t stick, maybe I’m working behind the scenes to make this already,” Arellano said.

Arellano and Bomar are available more than just via social media — the two have a reality television show called “Lipstick Empire.”

“We have a reality television show, which was a little scary…to let go of our own story and let somebody else control that was a little terrifying,” Bomar said. “We didn’t want anything to be fake. It’s really easy to spot fake, and it’s really easy to lose your credibility, and when things lose credibility I think our customers always get to come back to us and know that what we’re putting out there we really genuinely care about.”

Dana Bomar and Lora Arellano
Dana Bomar and Lora Arellano Patrick MacLeod