I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak with amazingly creative and brilliant Mr. David Klasfeld the CEO/Creative Director of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and here is what he had to say…
Sarah: Tell me a little about Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics…
David: First and foremost, we’re a cosmetic company that was created by professionals for professionals. Beyond that, we’re a company for anyone that values the quality and diversity in their products. We’re a reaction to an already over-crowded market that offers the consumer very little options, beyond the external packaging and marketing.
At OCC, both formulation and innovation are the most important factors. We don’t want to be just another cosmetic company offering the same products in different packaging: we want to focus on bringing you the colors and textures that are missing from your kit. When we do introduce products or colors that already do have precedent in the market, we want to make sure it’s the best version of it that you’ve ever used.
Sarah: Taking you back to the company’s origin Dave, I am curious to know, as the CEO and Creative Director of OCC Cosmetics, what inspired you to create this amazingly fluent cosmetic company?
David: OCC has always been inspired by professional makeup solutions – the products that makeup artists are using backstage to solve the problems we’re confronted with on an every day basis. When we were first established back in 2004, we started with two lip balms, Tarred and Feathered, which were borne out of a situation exactly like this exactly. In the early part of the 00s, the trend in makeup couldn’t have been more natural. It was a reaction to the overly-defined makeup of the mid-to-late nineties. Women didn’t want to have hard-lined lips, contoured eyes, and penciled in eyebrows anymore, in fact they didn’t want to wear much makeup at all.
On set, there was no lip colour neutral enough for the photographers I was working with. While even skin-toned lipstick registered as “too much” on camera, the models needed some sort of definition. I started mixing a little black eye pencil with a lot of clear gloss which I applied as lightly as possible with a brush, so I could shade and define the lips without adding color. Feathered was antithesis – for people with naturally pigmented lips, any product, even a clear gloss made them appear almost red on camera, and what I did was to lay down a natural matte, sheer white tone to mute out their natural color. It just made sense for all of this to evolve into products, and lip balm made more sense in terms of texture and flexibility of application. When we launched it, it was first popular with artists who worked in male grooming, even for newscasters say who, due to the HD revolution, absolutely could not look like they were wearing any makeup let alone lipstick. After some time, everyone fell in love the products, from models to brides.
David: As my freelance makeup career evolved, I started working more and more in commercials and advertising. Those were two areas of the industry that really embraced Hi-Definition video right away. I had already started airbrushing, but was never 100% satisfied with the options that were on the market. Even the better foundations out there were either notoriously dry or so wet-looking in their finish, that they required massive amounts of powder, which of course registered on camera. OCC Skin was our solution to that: an oil-free water base that maintained a natural matte texture, that looked no more dry or moist looking than good, healthy skin is naturally. Our color range, specifically our Loose Colours, was actually a by-product of OCC Ink, the body paint that we created for the line as well.
We were looking for a shimmer particle that was refined enough to pass through an airbrush without clogging it, which was the bane of every airbrush makeup artists’ existence. From just playing with it in the lab, we realized that what we developed functioned so well even outside of the airbrush, that we couldn’t help but unleash it on the world. It’s multi-functional makeup, and people love for everything from eyeshadow to special f/x applications.
Sarah: I absolutely love the name. I don’t know if it’s because I am “Obsessive Compulsive” or not, hahaha. How did you come up with the Obsessive Compulsive concept or better yet, what made you come up with this awesome concept?
David: Thank you! That comes from the time I spent behind makeup counters prior to venturing out into my freelance career. People really can get quite OCDish about their makeup, which I think is actually a good thing, in a way. You find something good, something that works for you, and you become obsessed with it. The cosmetics industry can make the process of finding the right products for your skin tone or lifestyle a harrowing experience at times – who hasn’t been intimidated by the cosmetic counter at some time or another? Beyond that, when you were lucky enough to find something that worked for you, you had to deal with the stress of it being discontinued, having its formula changed, or otherwise taken away from you, so to speak. Our company’s name is a signal to all those like-minded individuals out there that we take our makeup just as seriously as you do, but of course have a sense of humor about it at the same time. Like it says on our website, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Sarah: I don’t wanna compare prestige and get into the standards of the cosmetic quo, however; I must ask, what makes OCC different or better yet, unique in comparison to most cosmetic brands?
David: Again, I’d have to say it’s our commitment to quality and selection. We’re only two years out of the gate for all intents and purposes, and the line is currently comprised of over 200 individual products including everything from eyeshadow and nail polish to airbrush makeup and special f/x palettes. There’s nothing in terms of colour out there that anyone’s looking for that we don’t have. And if you find something that isn’t, we add it. We value our customer’s feedback beyond anything. It’s almost a makeup collective in that regard – it’s not uncommon for any business to claim that the customer is the most important person in their company – well of course not, we don’t exist without them. But for us, it’s our customers who determine our direction. We don’t just market to them, we let them tell us what they need, and we’re very responsive. I try to address every email of the kind that’s directed to us personally, and people love to talk to us on MySpace! For whatever reason, people feel very comfortable being very expressive there, and it’s great. At the end of the day, for some reason, I still like talking about makeup, and I try to do it as much as possible.
Sarah: I would love to know about the type of people OCC attracts and individual demographics. Tell me a little your clients…
David: It’s the most mixed bag you’ve ever seen, and we couldn’t be happier about that. We pride ourselves on being all-inclusive and people really seem to sense that, and respond to that. Sure, we certainly have an aesthetic, but it’s not one that we enforce, by any means. So many lines seemed to want to predetermine their customer’s look, or to tell the artist what they need – we don’t do the talking – we listen, and respond appropriately. In terms of who’s using our products, and who they’ve been used on, it’s everyone from Carmela Soprano (HBO’s Edie Falco) to Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. And we love that!
Sarah: What do your clients say about Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics? What are some testimonials you would like to share?
David: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and from an equally diverse crowd. Pat McGrath loves our Loose Colours and has used them on the runways at Fashion Rocks, Miss Sixty, and Christian Dior; OCC Ink (our airbrush body paint) is used behind the scenes at Universal Studios for their Beetle juice and Horror Makeup Shows; Wendi Avignone uses all of our airbrush makeup behind-the-scenes for NBC’s Heroes. Our products have been used for the covers of WWD, American Salon, and Blink, and in ads for Target, Best Buy, and Tommy Hilfiger. And across the board, we’re always told it’s because the particular product is the best of its kind – to me, that beyond anything is the ultimate indicator of success.
Sarah: Dave, what can you say to these people about Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics or better yet, give me a few reasons why people should check out OCC?
David: Because you’re ready for something, different, better and new. Because you love colour as much as we do. And like our dual motto’s say: Because you don’t need to be ‘made over’. Because you’re over the counter.
Sarah: That is definitely a reason to check out OCC for sure. Is there anything else you would like to add? :o)
David: I’d love to call attention to the fact that we’re working, along with several animal charities including PETA and the NYC Mayor’s Alliance, to re-examine the issue of Cruelty-Free Beauty. While this was uncommon less than a decade ago, several companies have jumped on the bandwagon. While that’s ultimately noble of them, its unfortunately usually because non-animal based testing has become more cost-effective. In some worst-case scenarios, it can also mean that the company no longer tests on animals, having already gotten all the testing necessary accomplished in their history, or that they’re simply distributing products manufactured by companies that may or may not test on animals, while they themselves do not. Some of these supposedly-Cruelty-Free lines even sell brushes and eyelashes made from fur that even the Fur Industry wouldn’t touch, and incorporate animal-derived ingredients (like Marine Oil, Lanolin, etc.) into their formulas. How they reconcile this is beyond me.
David: But…at the end of the day, we’re not here to preach, and we’re not here to judge, and we’re certainly not going to dictate what is ultimately a very personal decision about what is and isn’t ethical. But what we’d like to do is raise consumer awareness by simply being honest. When we say Cruelty-Free, we mean it. We don’t test our products on animals, and we’d never do business with ingredient suppliers who do. To the consumer who that’s important to, myself included, they have that assurance.
David: Beyond that, we’re also working toward being the first all-encompassing Vegan color cosmetics lines. With skin care that’s a little easier, but some of the raw pigments out there are still-animal derived, so vegan color lines tend to be pretty limited. We’re working with our suppliers to find alternatives to these components. Currently, the line is 97% Vegan, and we’re looking forward to making it 100% in the near future. As to why: regardless of where you are on the issue, consumers have a right to know what’s in their makeup. Carmine, a deep red pigment common in lipstick and glosses, is derived from insects, and whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater, kosher, halal, or without any dietary restrictions, I don’t think there are many people out there who want beetle juice in their lipsticks. By making the commitment that we have, at least they’ll know for sure that it’s not in ours.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics