Tarte and Bunny Meyer are officially family — swamp family, that is.
In its first collaboration with a digital influencer, the makeup brand has partnered with the YouTuber — who goes by the handle Grav3yardgirl and calls her followers the swamp family — on a limited-edition palette and gray nude lip paint launching Monday on Tarte’s web site followed later this month with launches on sephora.com, ulta.com and macys.com before entering stores next month at Sephora, Ulta and Macy’s Impulse. A second red lip paint developed with Meyer will be available online at the various outlets.
While beauty brand tie-ins with YouTubers are commonplace today, this association was handled particularly delicately because Meyer isn’t a typical Kardashian-lite makeup artist posting glamorous how-to tutorials. She originally began vlogging six years ago about paranormal experiences and cemeteries, and transitioned into videos that touch on beauty standards and bullying, and cover weird and whacky as-seen-on-TV items, Pinterest trends, merchandise hauls and more. Maintaining her uniquely frank voice was paramount in any products.
“She’s such a great role model for younger consumers. She’s very real. She has a personality. What you see on her YouTube is what you get in person, and the impact on younger followers is so significant,” said Samantha Kitain, marketing director at Tarte. “People are very honest on social media, so if the palette and collaboration doesn’t feel authentic, and it feels like a brand is taking advantage of an influencer’s name, it doesn’t work. We found a great person with a great fan base, and we were able to capture what she stands for.”
Meyer isn’t new to Tarte. She was in its spring 2015 Tartelette marketing campaign and has been spotlighting Tarte products in her videos throughout her history on YouTube. That long-term relationship and requests by fans that she collaborate with Tarte propelled Meyer’s decision to partner with the brand. “My subscribers started a tag on Instagram requesting a Bunny palette with Tarte. They are the ones that really started the ball rolling and were catalysts for the whole process,” Meyer said. “It had to be a brand that shared my vision, and a brand whose products I trust to be good quality and consistent across the board with formulation.”
Meyer labored with Tarte since January of last year to perfect the so-called Swamp Queen palette. Initially, she conceived of two palettes, one for eyes and one for cheeks, but settled on a larger, single palette. “We got the brilliant idea of decreasing the number of shadow shades, but including a highlighter, bronzer and brush along with the shades. That made a lot of sense, and I felt people would be getting a good value,” Meyer said. The $45 palette contains a total of 12 eye and cheek shades in matte and shimmer options, an eyeshadow brush and full-size mirror.
Kitain and Meyer mentioned that a plethora of looks could be created with the palette — day, night or otherwise. “Bunny’s fans will be able to interpret this palette however they want. While Bunny has a big personality, her looks tend to be neutral with a few pops. [The palette reflects the colors that she usually wears.] She wants people to embrace their individuality and make it [the palette] their own,” said Kitain, adding, “We have never done a palette that looks like this inside. Everything was customized to Bunny. It wasn’t just a product we did and put her name on.”
Meyer is frequently seen wearing red or grayish lipstick shades in her videos and sought to produce those shades for her fans. Prior to her Tarte red lip paint, she sported red shades from MAC and Yves Saint Laurent. “I just love that it’s classic, and it is so bold,” she said of red lipstick. “I’m a very old soul. Whenever you see glam looks from the Fifties or Forties, pretty much everyone is wearing a red lip. Something about it makes me feel bold, energized and ready to take on the world. I feel it’s really striking. It’s almost like putting on armor.”
Tarte did an online sneak-peek sale of Meyer’s palette on May 23 and sold out of the restricted quantity it offered. “As soon as Bunny posted about it, we saw a huge spike in traffic on tarte.com. Her fans were buying it and also wanted information,” Kitain said. She continued, “We have big expectations. It is going to build big buzz for the season and, hopefully, from the response we have seen from her fans, there will be a big rush for it.” Kitain noted the palette with Meyer could help Tarte reach members of Generation Z. She said, “Her fans tend to skew younger. This may be one of the first palettes her fans purchase on their own. This is a way to introduce them to the beauty world.”
Meyer didn’t rule out future products with Tarte, but is conscious not to get too distracted from making videos. “YouTube is my number-one passion, and I always focus a majority of my interest there. I try to make videos at least every other day. That takes up most of my time because I do all the filming, editing and uploading myself,” she said. “There is inspiration everywhere. My videos are very blog style. People like to hear what I’m doing, what I bought that day. I can do a haul. There are always products to be tested out.”
Meyer isn’t afraid to mine material that might be uncomfortable for other digital personalities. She tackled criticism of her teeth in a video titled, “What’s Wrong With My Teeth?” “Everyone is just encouraged to look exactly the same, have the same face and wear makeup the same and dress the same. I feel like sometimes you can get ostracized if you are weird or different,” she said. “But everyone has something that people will point out or think is weird. I feel like the more positive messages and the more open people are about confronting things like that, the less empowerment it gives to bullies and people who will try to alienate you.”
She’s become well-known through social media — her audience exceeds 6.9 million YouTube subscribers and 2.3 million Instagram followers — and she’s believed to be one of the highest-paid digital influencers, but Meyer indicated she hasn’t changed much. “I still live in the same town [Pearland, Tex.]. I don’t wake up now and suddenly there are assistants. I don’t look at myself as a famous person. I am not going off to Hollywood next,” she said. “I never envisioned this could happen to me. I never started this thinking I was going to be rich. I never even knew there was a dime in it. It’s a blessing, but that’s not what motivates me every single day.”