Katherine von Drachenberg — also know as Kat Von D — is outspoken about her desire to differentiate in an increasingly crowded beauty space.
The reality show star, author, gallerist, tattoo shop owner, animal rights activist and beauty founder launched her line in 2008 exclusively with Sephora, a result of the retailer being inundated with requests from consumers for the makeup Drachenberg wore on TV.
“Companies like that pay attention to what people are asking for. They were like, ‘Who is this Kat girl?’ I think I shocked, surprised or scared them. [They asked me] if I could make a product what would it be? [I said] here is what I wish was in stores. They saw an opportunity to create something that hasn’t been done and we did it,” Drachenberg said.
She stressed that since inception, the products in the Kendo-owned Kat Von D Beauty collection are not based on trends.
She maintained that she gets trend predictions and “throws them out the window.”
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“I’d walk into Sephora and I was so f–king bored. Everything was the same. How about just making things that actually matter instead of filler? How amazing would it be to create anything and everything you want to do just because it didn’t matter if people bought it. What would it look like?” Drachenberg said.
To this point, she added that some of her crazy ideas — like a neon-colored palette, for instance — have been known to get strange reactions from “some suits.” The aforementioned palette went on to sell out, as did a remixed version that was released shortly after.
Drachenberg is clear that she has no interest in being the “number-one” beauty brand.
“The fact that we are a top five brand is amazing to me, but it’s OK if we’re not. It’s not going to change my approach to what we do. The other route is quite exhausting and not fulfilling. If I wanted to get in the biz of selling my soul for a check I’d do a licensing deal,” she said.
She credits much of her success — and what she “brings to the table” — to being a “huge makeup fan” and not a makeup artist. Drachenberg views makeup similarly to the way she views tattooing — it’s a form of self-expression. To her, makeup was never about beauty or a form of rebellion; it was something she used to depict the way she was feeling.
And even after almost a decade, she’s “painfully involved” in the business, quickly adding that it’s not because she’s a “control freak.” Drachenberg has an imprint on everything from packaging and shades to testing, art direction and the move to reformulate the entire line to be vegan. For social media specifically, Drachenberg maintains the @katvondbeauty Instagram account, which has 3.5 million followers.