Grown from a love of mixing up lip balm concoctions at the age of twelve, Molly Dunkle created a unique makeup line with an authentic approach to ingredients. We chatted to Molly about Dunkle Authentic's minimalist ingredients, how she sources reliable manufacturers and the art of collaborating.
How long have you been in the makeup industry?
When I was 12 years old I made lip balm for the first time and started my first cosmetics business shortly after. After running that for 10 years I decided to step out and work for other cosmetics companies and start freelancing as a makeup artist. In 2013 I officially launched my handcrafted makeup label Dunkle Authentic.
When did the idea come about to start your own line?
It really started with a curiosity about makeup. I wanted to know how products were made, what went into them and who made them. I used to love going to makeup counters and asking for little samples or makeovers. My dad plays a huge role, he is an environmental chemist and always encouraged me from a young age to explore ingredients and develop my own formulas. I still call him with questions, and he helped me set up my mobile lab for manufacturing.
How is Dunkle different to other makeup brands on the market?
I often challenge standards in the makeup industry such as the “need” for a primer or lip liner. If a foundation or lipstick is formulated differently it’s often unnecessary to use extra products. The same goes for ingredients, I keep my ingredient list quite minimal. Not only does it demand quality, it let’s the rich pigments and plant-based butters, oils and waxes take the stage.
How do you approach branding?
I am constantly refining my branding and language as my label evolves because they are reflections of my long-term vision. Each product from my colour collection is inspired by personal travels and I love sharing that story, it gives an authentic voice and personality to my brand.
What are your tips for social media?
Consistency is valuable for a brand as the little details make a huge difference. I went back recently and did a social media “audit” to ensure each bio on all of my brand platforms is relevant and has a consistent message. The number of social media channels can be overwhelming so I’m focusing on building a few strong accounts instead of attempting to tackle all the options out there.
How did you source suppliers?
Quality is my number one criteria so each supplier I work with must have the highest standards. I define which products I am making, decide which ingredients I love, and add value to the product. There is usually a personal element to the ingredients I pick, either it’s choosing Australian olive oil as my lipstick base because I love olive martinis, or adding moisturising mango butter because I am addicted to the summer fruit here in Australia.
What do you do when you feel uninspired?
For a mini dose of inspiration, I adore taking walks. I leave my phone at home and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and flowers. To gain new perspective and fresh inspiration I LOVE to travel. Exploring a new city is one of my favourite joys in life and even just getting on the plane is enough for me to start jotting ideas down in my notebook. Some of my best ideas come out of the flight back to the USA to visit my family.
How do you get your brand out there?
Collaboration has played a huge role in getting my brand out there! I am lucky enough to be working as makeup artist while building my brand so it gives me an extra platform to showcase my label on shoots. Social media also plays a large part in growing my brand awareness. To add to that I host makeup workshops which not only introduces my brand to new people, but it provides them with new artistry skills to enhance their personal style.
Hardest thing about owning your own business?
Having the courage to keep going through the ups and downs. I find it scary to constantly put myself out there with new ideas as some are well received and some just aren’t. The best way I have found to support myself through this is to surround myself with positive people that believe in me and what I am doing.
Best thing about owning your own business?
I love building a brand! I find it energising, challenging, and highly rewarding. The variety in my work takes me from travel inspiration to product design, to small-batch manufacturing and packaging to editorial shoots.
Top three tips for people wanting to start a makeup label:
- Make consumer safety a priority and research government and product regulations. Certain ingredients have usage limits and labelling needs to be exact to properly inform consumers of ingredients to avoid reactions.
- Find your point of difference. This helps guide your branding and marketing efforts. It could be colour offerings, packaging or ingredients.
- Have fun! It is an incredible industry and there are many different paths to take through product design, manufacturing or makeup artistry.
Follow the Dunkle Authentic journey here.
Words by Caitlin Hennessy