Deepica Mutyala didn't know this till we talked about four days ago, but she's the reason that four years ago, I left the job I hated to pursue my lifelong dream of being a beauty writer.
I'm just one of hundreds of thousands of like-minded South Asian followers who for years have looked to the influencer turned CEO of clean, inclusive, and diverse beauty brand Live Tinted for Mutyala's knack for cultivating some of the most passionate communities on social media.
Live Tinted's Oprah Magazine-loved, Allure award-winning Huesticks are truly iconic, but what they represent is so much more: using her products, including the newly-launched HUEGLOW are like holding the manifestation of Deepica's years of work to fight colorism and the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the beauty industry.
For me and several of my fellow Desi friends, Mutyala has been one of the few South Asian faces and voices in the beauty industry to look to in order to feel seen and considered as beautiful. To be a part of the Live Tinted community is to be amongst fellow warriors in the pursuit of changing the norms of beauty.
Live Tinted is her brainchild, but this is her story.
It's clear you're a storyteller at heart — what is the story you're telling with Live Tinted?
Storytelling to me is a key part of Live Tinted because not enough beauty brands speak to what your purpose is. For me, the product is just the vehicle to showcase a passion and love for diversity and inclusion beyond just the makeup industry. When people hold our products they feel like they're part of something bigger.
The core of Live Tinted will always be about changing the face of diversity and representation.
You'll see that with everything we do from hiring and partnerships to investors. Our first campaign was to sell a color corrector and in it we showcased people from our community — people who weren't wearing makeup and who weren't models.
It took more time, but it's those little details that take more effort but are worth it.
You do a great job at being vulnerable and open about mental health on social media. What are some of the challenges you experience as an entrepreneur that people don't talk about as much?
It is very scary to be vulnerable online when cancel culture is a thing and you can say one thing online and be canceled.
You can talk about some hardships you're going through online and people will say, "oh, boo hoo people are dying". It's scary to put yourself out there but I know there are people who can benefit from me talking about my struggles.
Not enough people are talking about the hardships in business.
You see me posting about the story I was in for Forbes, marketing, and all the outward-facing things. But, I challenge my fellow founders to be more open about the hardships. I think it's important if you do have a platform to use it to showcase what really goes in to making a business.
It's important to recognize it's not all glitz and glam. Running a business is so lonely.
Even for someone like me who has an incredible group of investors I can call up anytime from Jaime Schmidt to Andy Dunn and Bobbi Brown; these are people who have built massive companies.
It's my first time being a CEO — I don't have all the answers at all but I find comfort in asking for them. There's power in vulnerability and owning it.
How much does coming from a marginalized community play into the way you do business on a day-to-day basis?
I'm always thinking about ways to showcase my culture and other marginalized cultures in my business. That is the DNA of my business and I'm constantly learning and evolving, but that will never change.
You know, I'm not Asian or Latinx so I want to learn from those communities and showcase their culture, too. I'm South Asian but what I've learned through sharing my immigrant parent experience, a lot of us have similar narratives.
If we can educate and learn from each other, it'll create a better world.
I have so many goals for this company that go beyond this product but there is so much that goes beyond the physical product. We really want Live Tinted to be a multicultural hub.
I don't think I've ever encountered such passionate and loyal followers as I have with your personal Instagram and the Live Tinted communities. How did you cultivate such astrong sense of community?
I don't feel like I was trying. I was just speaking to things I experienced. It was just me talking about things nobody else was interested in talking about.
I talk about how I had to hide from the sun because fair was lovely and I had to hide from my mom because I had to shave my mustache.
Part of the game plan of Live Tinted was to create a hub for people to discuss issues within the beauty realm and to make you realize that you're not alone. My hope goal is to work more closely with the community as we launch products.
I still miss that part of the business that wasn't just about a product, but I realize when somebody uses our product they know they're part of something greater.
You inspire a lot of younger South Asian people, especially in the beauty industry. What advice do you want to give to them?
I would tell a 13-year-old to be fearless. There's no playbook.
What can we expect from the future of Live Tinted?
You're going to see a lot of thoughtful partnerships that continue to echo the Live Tinted brand throughout them.
And, if the goal is to dismantle colorism when colorism is a global issue, you're going to see us expand — everywhere.