Who Says You Can’t Launch a Beauty Brand During a Pandemic?

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Photo: Courtesy of odist

Blame it on my star sign if you want, but when it comes to products, friendships, and even careers, I am nothing if not loyal. If I like something and believe in something, I will stand by it until the bitter end, which is why I’ve had the same makeup powder brush for 13 years. It all started with the MakeUpAlley beauty forums (yes, I am that many years old) back in 2007, where users gave the designation “HG” or “Holy Grail” to items that surpassed typical product standards to be the best in their field. The forum’s obsession at the time was the Japonesque powder brush, which is something that I, as a budding makeup artist, purchased immediately. I’ve been using it ever since, taking the time once a week to gently wash it in baby shampoo. It still serves me well to this day.

But a lot has changed in the beauty realm in the past decade, particularly when it comes to ethical production and sustainable sourcing. Even makeup trends have evolved immensely, being broader to capture new techniques and more encompassing than ever. Back in the pre-Kardashian days, contouring was a word I only ascribed to art or architecture, never to the face. While I’ve never been a full-face makeup kind of girl, I can appreciate the artistry that goes into the effort, and that a well-equipped arsenal of makeup brushes is necessary to achieve it. However, after so long, I realized my makeup tool selection was dismally lacking. While my Japonesque powder brush had stood the test of time, I was overdue for a system-wide upgrade. That’s when I found odist.

Odist is a courageous homegrown brand that launched in the UAE during the pandemic with a single focus: luxury, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly makeup brushes. Not only are they developed at the highest quality standards, but they are also backed by a two-year guarantee – a point I found intriguing. However, I am really picky when it comes to makeup brushes because many have failed me before. Judged by dual criteria – how well they hold product without spilling it all over your face and how well they apply that product – I had the pleasure of personally testing odist’s full line of makeup brushes and was overjoyed by the results.

As advertised, odist makeup brushes are beautifully made, high quality, and ultra-soft, but more importantly, they pick up and distribute product on your face like a dream. I particularly loved the heft and density of the ‘011 Precision Powder’ bristles, which did a fantastic job of sealing my foundation with a setting powder, and the effects of the ‘025 Crease Blender’, which is a tool I didn’t even realize I needed until I used it. I was so thrilled with the results that I said a quiet goodbye to my faithful Japonesque brush, and (finally) replaced it.

Fascinated by the efforts that went into launching a beauty brand during a pandemic, particularly one that was so laser-focused on a single category, I spoke to odist’s founder Amy Hanbury about the ethos of her brand. Listen in.

Amy Hanbury odist
Amy Hanbury | Photo: Courtesy of odist

How long have you lived in the UAE, and what is your background?
Dubai has been my home for the past seven years. I moved here in 2013 in my early twenties and loved it ever since – the innovative nature of the city and its people make it such a great place to live. My background is mostly in education; it was a teaching opportunity that led me to the Middle East back in 2013. During my time spent in education, I recognized that I wasn’t creatively challenged in my role, so I decided to dedicate my spare time to learning about beauty and went back to London College of Fashion as a mature student. After immersing myself in creative industries, I knew I was better placed working in the beauty industry.

Why did you choose to launch your brand in the UAE?
The UAE beauty sector is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and this is a direct reflection of its consumer. UAE beauty customers are what I consider to be new-age consumers – they are educated, well-informed, and seek genuine connections with brands that offer quality products. I knew there would be no better place to launch a new range of luxury vegan makeup brushes, and I’m confident that the beauty enthusiast of the UAE will appreciate and recognize the design, quality, and exceptional performance of odist brushes. I also felt that the Middle East lacked a homegrown brand offering luxury makeup brushes backed by responsible values.

What sets odist makeup brushes apart from other tools?
odist brushes, unlike other traditional brands, offer three high-performing vegan hair types, each designed to work with different textures and formulas. We’ve spent the last two years developing our specific hair types with a leading manufacturer, and we’re so happy with the result.

‘Body Fibre’ is engineered to buff and blend liquid and cream products seamlessly, while ‘Silk Fibre’ is designed to outperform natural hair and expertly collect and layer powder products with little fallout. ‘Razor Fibre’ works with a range of formulas, but is specially created for precision work and the placement of fine structured lines.

We have a total of ten luxury brushes in our ‘Essential Ten’ kit, five of which are dedicated to face and complexion, and five for the eyes. The range has been carefully curated so that the kit holds all of the necessary brushes for your daily makeup needs.

Have you faced any challenges in launching your brand amid a pandemic?
We’ve faced many obstacles launching a brand during a pandemic. One of the challenges we encountered was underestimating the time it would take us to develop the range of brushes with an effective shutdown in non-essential manufacturing. We knew how important it was to work through a number of pre-production samples to get the final product right, but considering the manufacturing and transit and lead times to/from our vendors, each batch would take over a month to produce and test. This quickly stacked up with 10 brushes and almost as many iterations, but we’re very happy we persisted and kept design and quality at the forefront, because the end result is exceptional.

You can shop the full line of odist products at www.odist.com.

Who Says You Can’t Launch a Beauty Brand During a Pandemic?

odist ‘Essential 10’ Makeup Brushes

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