Not all viral content has a short shelf-life; some manage to take their creators to newer heights and realise potential they didn’t know existed. Such is the case with Deepica Mutyala, the LA based entrepreneur of South Asian origin, who has managed to carve out a niche in global beauty space in a short time. Deepica’s brand Live Tinted caters to the needs of underrepresented complexions, especially, melanated skin. Her original product, the now iconic Huestick, became an instant hit in a market that still falls short in delivering products for ‘every shade in between’. Since founding Live Tinted in 2019, Deepica has also initiated important conversations about South Asian entrepreneurs making space for themselves in the beauty industry. In this conversation she discusses the challenges that come with it:
How were your early beginnings in the beauty industry? Is there a story from the early days that still makes you chuckle?
Deepica Mutyala: I spent years working in the beauty industry before I began a YouTube channel. My biggest dream was to work at L’Oreal USA. My plan was to be a brand manager and then go to business school (make my father happy) and then start my own brand. L’Oreal didn’t give me a full-time offer—they said I wasn’t a strong enough marketer. I thought my whole life was over at the time! Flash forward years later, I’ve done marketing campaigns for L’Oreal many times and have even been featured in a L’Oreal commercial. Life has a funny way of working itself out. Rejection is redirection—I really believe that. Things changed drastically when my 2015 YouTube video ‘How to Cover Dark Under-Eye Circles’ (currently 10.9 million views) went viral. I landed appearances on Today and Dr Oz., which granted me the opportunity to meet and interact with people. Every day, I had someone saying that my video changed their lives as they had no idea how to combat common skin concerns of darker skin tones. From there, I created Live Tinted, to shed light on the experiences of people who were often left out of the media and beauty narrative. I also wanted to share beauty knowledge and create products that served our community.
You went viral on YouTube at a time when ‘going viral’ wasn’t commonplace. What was your first reaction to that?
Deepica Mutyala: Confused! I didn’t see it coming at all. Someone pinged me at work and said, “Holy smokes, you’re going viral!”. I had no idea that that moment would forever change my life.
What would you say is Live Tinted’s brand ethos?
Deepica Mutyala: Inclusivity and diversity are at the heart of Live Tinted, driving everything we do, from concept to creation. I want anyone who has ever felt left out of the beauty narrative to see themselves, in some capacity, represented through Live Tinted. I feel fortunate to be building this community and space for people of colour to feel seen. It means so much to me to be working towards making the beauty industry a more inclusive place. I hope that with Live Tinted, the next generation knows that their authentic beauty is what will make them shine and stand out in this world. We want to normalise and celebrate all tinted skin.
How did you come up with Live Tinted’s one-of-a-kind multipurpose item, the Huestick corrector?
Deepica Mutyala: I started Live Tinted as a community page on Instagram. A year after we kick-started the community, we launched our first product, the Huestick; it was based on crowd-sourced feedback. We learnt that there was a need for simple, personal and, most importantly, functional makeup that targets dark circles and hyperpigmentation. That resonated with me directly. Especially going back to the viral video that started my whole career. So, it only made sense to create a solution, the Huestick, that could solve those concerns while also serving the daily purpose of a casual eye, cheek, and lip colour. We designed and developed the Huestick, first and foremost, to serve our community with the idea of making our brand accessible and affordable. This remains an essential pillar of our business and it is why we focus on creating multipurpose products that have many uses to add even more value to each product.
And what’s the story behind the Hueguard Mineral SPF, the cast-free sunblock that has found favour among melanated beauties?
Deepica Mutyala: Gradually, we realised that our community had a lot of misconceptions surrounding SPF and were struggling to find a product that didn’t leave a white cast. I was adamant about making this launch happen, and let me tell you, it was far from easy. Many companies fail to consider the need for tinted skin tones while creating sunscreen formulas. That’s why we were so excited to finally create Hueguard as a solution that addressed this issue. Hueguard is an innovative, all-in-one daily mineral SPF 30, moisturiser and primer. The formula blends seamlessly into the skin, giving all skin tones and types a natural glow with no white cast. Beyond the product itself, we hope to debunk common misconceptions and inspire a movement for people of all skin tones to reclaim their relationship with their skin in the sun.
As a young entrepreneur, what kind of challenges did you face as you took your first steps in the field?
Deepica Mutyala: The biggest challenge I had to face in my journey to becoming a beauty entrepreneur was the lack of funding. Women only receive two per cent of venture capital funding, and that number is staggeringly low for women of colour. It was hard and is still hard, but I am proud to say that we recently closed our seed round, and I owe that success to our loyal community.
Congratulations on that! Now, you’re also working in a highly competitive space, what keeps you going?
Deepica Mutyala: Since I was 16 years old, I knew I wanted to create my own beauty brand to shift the narrative of what was represented and considered ‘beautiful’ in the industry. Growing up in Sugarland, Texas (US), I was surrounded by people that didn’t look like me. This was perpetuated by the fact that those I saw in commercials, magazines, and my favourite TV shows didn’t look like me either. I had the underlying sense that I was not ‘pretty enough’, when in reality, it was the beauty and entertainment industries showcasing a very narrow view of beauty. As I matured and gained confidence, I developed a passion for changing the industry. I wanted to create a space where people could embrace their appearance and culture and be proud of inclusive definitions of beauty. As I entered the professional world, my vision for the company evolved as I saw firsthand, the gaps in representation that existed across the board. I wanted to create a company that would not only be a community for those who didn’t see themselves in beauty but one that would also lead by example when it came to diversity and inclusion, and shift the standard for the industry.
Sounds wonderful. Tell us, what’s next for Live Tinted?
Deepica Mutyala: My biggest dream is for Live Tinted to launch in India. Mark my words… it will happen. Also, I’ve always said we are a beauty brand, not just a make-up brand. We create products to serve the tinted community, which goes across different categories. That’s the only clue I’ll give right now, but maybe you can guess!
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