Meet Florence Adepoju, she has a degree in Cosmetic Science, an incredible attitude, and pioneered an entire company by the time she was 22. Florence, aka Flow, is the woman behind MDMflow: the independent lipstick brand that has made its way into shops in London, Paris, and even nastygal.com; and these golden bullets sell like hotcakes.
Founded to push back against the sometimes limiting range of popular makeup, Florence grew MDMflow from the ground up, after deciding that she was no longer going to wait for someone to supply products for her skin tone. Each product is inspired by the glamour and luxury of hip-hop, and the brand offers a wide range of vivid colours. Slapp caught up with Flow, for a chat about starting a business from scratch, working at SpaceNK and glitter mascara.
Have you always loved makeup?
My immediate reaction would be to say yes, but actually, I wasn’t always a natural. Growing up I’d be thinking “let's use nail polish to paint the walls!” So I have always been intrigued by it, but when I went to school I saw how it was actually used and that really sparked my interest.
What made you finally decide to launch MDMflow?
All the way through my degree I knew I had this goal to start my own brand. I used to look at makeup counters and see the products they had and more importantly the products they were missing, and I knew I could do better. While everyone was applying to grad jobs, I was founding something in third year and meanwhile I had been working for so many different brands that I knew my dream brand wasn’t out there. I either had to spend the rest of my career dissatisfied, or do something.
Lipstick is really transformative, when it comes to colours and even affinities to colours; and the obsession people have with “what colour suits me”. When I worked at Space NK, customers would come in and try on a lipstick and say that it didn’t suit them and I noticed they really personalised the process. Being a cosmetic scientist now I know the importance of what actually goes into the colour and can help solve people’s problems.
What do you love most about makeup?
I love the fact that makeup can really be used for self-representation, and that’s what is most empowering about it for me. If you want to be looking really bright you can put on a bright colour, the best thing about makeup is that you can tell your own story each day.
What sets MDMflow apart from other makeup brands out there?
We’re probably the most honest brand in terms of how we talk to our customers, we have a product development Facebook group and we really just want to remove the veil around beauty and have a straight up conversation. A lot of classic brands will sell you a dream, we’re more gritty. Although makeup is magical there shouldn’t be any illusions around it.
What was your experience founding the brand, and what advice would you give to women trying to do the same?
It’s been so difficult, it’s almost a blessing that you don’t know how hard it is to run a business beforehand because no one ever would! There’s a lot of legal, financial stuff that you never even dreamed of, and four years in I’ve found out that you really have to give yourself time to learn a better way to do things. My advice would be to stay connected to people and learn from them. There’s a lot of personal development that comes with this process and a lot of people are expecting things overnight, so naturally they’re hard on themselves.
What’s your skincare routine like?
It’s kind of always changing. When I worked a Space NK and got all the amazing discounts, it used to be just really high end products. Now I’m a bit of a mixer. I'm obsessed with finding independent beauty brands like Glossier- I love their stuff. Beauty used to be just a very glamorous thing, but now it’s becoming more functional too, so I’m happy about that.
How do you stay healthy?
Running is really really great for me - I find it helpful for clearing my mind. I’ve been trying to find other things to fit in with running. Last week I went to a fitness class in Shoreditch, it was set up like a club but with the set list as exercises, that was fun so I’ll try to do it again. As for my eating - I’m not an obsessively healthy eater, but I do try to intuitively listen to my body, if I feel run down I always go back to more healthy meals.
What are your experiences of diversity in the beauty industry?
I do think it’s changing and at a quick pace, but there’s so much imbalance that it’s really a long term issue. The problem with beauty and fashion is that things that are really important are often hyped as trends which isn’t good. Social media is changing the atmosphere for the better, though. This way women from under-privileged backgrounds can self-represent and say, “we’re here”.
Would you share an early beauty memory or mistake with us?
I used to be obsessed with glitter and would wear glitter mascara, and then glitter eyeshadow as well… sometimes in the morning my dad would ask me to wash my face but as you know, it was glitter. So it was total disco ball face. If only I’d have known oil would have done the trick.
Do you have a beauty muse?
Someone who I think encapsulates effortless beauty and you'd never catch her with any outfit error is Naomi Campbell. Even when she's taking a beauty risk.
What is beautiful to you?
Just being able to confidently be yourself, and all the external and internal elements that help you to do that.
If you could only Slapp on one beauty product, what would it be?
Obviously lipstick! The brightest or boldest lipstick colour. The shade from MDMflow I’d go back to would be Ninety Four. It’s a bricky red shade, it always looks good with any look.
What does MDMflow have in store for us?
We’re working on quite a few things; a couple new lipsticks coming out in the summer, and we’re even working on an eyeliner! You can always check out our social media to keep up to date, there’s a lot coming.
Follow Flow at: @MDMFLOW