Florence Adepoju talks on her own beauty range MDMFlow. She set up the business after she got tired of not finding quality makeup that suits her skin tone.
Cosmetic Scientist, Florence Adepoju was working in retail at a beauty counter in Essex. “I realised most lipsticks were too pale for me and foundations weren’t dark enough. I was told my shade was “limited edition”. But my skin isn’t limited edition. I often had to turn away black customers.”
I met the head of the cosmetic science course at London College of Fashion and told her, ‘Starting my own makeup brand is the only thing I want to do.’ She offered me a place right there. I was in the lab every day. For my final year project, I made lipsticks in bright colours to suit women of colour; black, blues, vibrant reds. Other students loved the samples; there was ‘nothing else like them.’ I realised I was my brand.
Welcome to the shed
After graduating, I bought all my equipment-pipettes, beakers-cheap off Amazon and made my own lab in my parents garden shed (it was basically Breaking Bad). That’s where MDMflow was born.
The game-changing phone call
In 2015, Nasty Gal called to say they’d seen MDMflow’s Instagram and wanted to stock my products. I went from making 30 lipsticks a day to 300. I quit my other jobs and worked through the night. It was worth it- soon, Topshop and French brand Colette became stockists too.
Girl On Fire
I made mistakes. Once, I accidentally left the hot plate which melts the oil and wax lipstick mixture, switched on and the shed caught fire! Luckily nothing major was destroyed.
The Influencer Effect
In 2016, I was doing everything myself: manufacturing, packing and developing the branding. Then Lena Dunham Instagrammed how inspired she was by my inclusive ethos, and orders flew in from Look Fantastic and Harvey Nichols. By January 2017, I was trying to make 900 lipsticks a day. With mum and dad sorting labels and packaging, I realised I needed a proper team and had to leave my shed life behind.
Changing The World
Now I work with a small team in Hackney. I launched MDMflow to try to make difference -representation of all ethnicities in the beauty industry is improving but until brands like mine become the norm, we haven’t won.
This is an excerpt from her feature In the first-ever edition of Glamour Magazine Beauty book.