Few brands have resonated more strongly with Gen-Z than Milk Makeup. Adored by experts, celebrities and customers alike, the brand skyrocketed to success thanks to it’s vegan, multi-purpose and high performance products. Combine this with a distinct New York aesthetic, wildly clever use of social media and an unmatched ethos and commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, it seems co-founders Zanna Roberts Rassie, Georgie Greville and Dianna Ruth have created (or found) the secret recipe.
“As the brand was born out of downtown NYC, it’s in our DNA to champion inclusivity,” co-founder Georgie Greville tells Centennial Beauty. “Milk Makeup’s mantra, Live Your Look, is our way of showing support and acceptance to everyone. That’s why we are continuously growing our efforts to support and give back to both LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC initiatives,” she explains. Part of this effort includes the brand’s ongoing partnership with The Center, a downtown NYC safe space and resource centre that now receives one per cent of all Milk Makeup online sales. The brand walks the walk… less surprising when you take into account Milk Makeup was born from Milk Studios, a “premier, full service photography studio,” and a business that has worked with and helped platform a huge range of creative talent (one of whom was a baby Billie Eilish), something that has helped create an enduring brand loyalty with the launch of Milk Makeup.
“We are lucky to have great relationships and friendships with world class creative talent that work at Milk Studios,” co-founder Zanna Roberts Rassie explains to Centennial Beauty. “Billie is one such longtime friend of Milk Studios. We met her when she first started out, she loved our KUSH Mascara. She [also] represents so many of our community and Milk Makeup — creative, smart, cool…” explains Zanna. “Her makeup artist Rob Rumsay…is so talented and we are proud to call him [a member of the] Milk Makeup Studio family. A highlight for me personally was interviewing Billie Eilish (as a correspondent for E) on the Grammys Red Carpet and she was sporting Milk Makeup,” says Zanna.
Starting in content creation, it also makes perfect sense how and why the brand has been so impactful across social media– an undoubtedly large component of the success in appealing to Gen-Z. “We began with a physical community at Milk Studios, which grew globally thanks to social media. We now have a super engaged and active community of 1.9 million on Instagram and over 500K on TikTok,” says Zanna. Having quality makeup products help when it comes to growth, something the co-founders agree on. “On Instagram, we generally find that our product posts perform the best in our feed because our community loves to see our products out in the wild, IRL, on the streets of NYC. We also see a great response to our [user generated content] posts that are “Milk Makeup” in attitude and environment,” says Zanna.
Further cementing the brand’s position as industry leaders, Milk pride themselves on creating products that “are first-to-market in some way…oftentimes that means [using] an active ingredient that’s not mainstream,” says co-founder Dianna Ruth of products like the Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask or KUSH Mascara. “Ingredients like melatonin and cannabis seed oil did feel controversial at the time, but now they’re mainstream in most markets. When we’re confident in the ingredient’s positive impact on the formula, we’ll happily be the first ones to use it,” says Dianna. Of the decision to be a vegan brand: “from our inception, [that] was always something that was important to us…but we also wanted to make sure our products performed. It’s definitely easier to create products when you don’t have as many boxes to check in terms of the ingredients that you use and the processes you have to employ to create the formulas [but] we’ve been a vegan brand for almost five years and we’re really proud that we haven’t had to sacrifice that key pillar to maintain really strong product efficacy,” she says. While the brand is loved by all ages, genders and skin tones, Zanna acknowledges part of what resonates so strongly with Gen-Z, specifically, is the brand’s transparency: “[They] are incredibly savvy when it comes to ingredients and claims. They understand the benefits of formulas that are vegan and clean,” she says.
“We set out to reinvent the beauty industry, not reinvent the customer,” she says, an ethos that has clearly found its feet in the next generation of beauty customers.
Milk Makeup is now available at Sephora Australia.