Deepica Mutyala, CEO and founder of Live Tinted.
Deepica Mutyala went viral in 2015 for a YouTube video in which she covered her dark under eye circles with red lipstick. Mutyala was quickly featured on The Today Show and The Dr. Oz Show for her viral hack. A few years later, Mutyala launched Live Tinted, inclusive digital community that explores diverse beauty for “every shade in between.” The platform focuses on underrepresented people in beauty, and their personal journeys with culture and identity while serving as a cross-cultural platform and movement for the community, known as the #TintFam, to discuss all things beauty and culture, and have those discussions lead product development. Mutyala’s goal was to amplify the reach of women through their digital platforms while giving honest feedback on beauty and skincare products that its audience cares about most.
Once the community grew to over 500,000+ followers on Instagram, Mutyala knew it was time to give the #TintFam product. Inspired by her viral red lipstick hack, Mutyala developed the Hue Stick, an eye, lip, and cheek multi=stick that also balances out dark circles, dark spots, and hyper-pigmentation. Mutyala share show she was able to turn the Live Tinted community into a best-selling product.
Live Tinted Hue Sticks.
Yola Robert: Why did you start Live Tinted ?
Deepica Mutyala: It feels like Live Tinted has been something I’ve been subconsciously working towards my whole life! As a little girl, I remember wondering why there was no one that looked like me in ad campaigns, in the media, on TV, etc. I felt disconnected and unseen. After college, I had the opportunity to work in the corporate side of the beauty space and it reminded me that I wanted to help other women of color feel heard and seen in the beauty industry. So, I created a YouTube video teaching brown women how to use red lipstick to color correct under their eyes – and it went viral! I quickly became a beauty influencer – someone young women of color sought advice from. I was (and continue to be!) honored that these women wanted to hear my story. Shortly after, I started Live Tinted as an Instagram account, to spark discussions in a safe space and reach a wide, and diverse community. Eventually, with crowd-sourced feedback, and support from this rapidly growing community, a.k.a., “TintFam”, we launched our first product in May 2019. Most importantly, we launched Live Tinted as a A community-first beauty brand focused on including every shade in between.
Robert: When did you realize you were starting to build an actual community around Live Tinted?
Mutyala: Our objective was to feature POC who were underrepresented and share their stories. I felt like there wasn’t a centralized hub that did that anywhere digitally and it was important to me on a personal level that this existed. When we first started to build the community, the response was overwhelming, and I realized almost immediately that this was bigger than what I had imagined it could be.
Robert: Did you ever expect the platform to get as big as it has?
Mutyala: I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to disrupt beauty standards, and create a space for people like me – minorities, people of color, who felt underserved, and ignored in the beauty rhetoric. I’ve also known for a long time that I’ve wanted my own beauty brand. Live Tinted was a brainchild of the former, and evolved into the latter. In this community, and with some of the work we have done, with a hardworking team of people who are as passionate about this cause as I am, people found their kindred spirits, their inspiration, bits of their own stories in what we shared, and connected to us in a way that defied even my expectations. This whole journey may have started with me, but it’s grown into something so much bigger. I want anyone and everyone who has ever felt left out of the beauty narrative to see themselves in some capacity represented through Live Tinted and I feel fortunate to be building this community, this space for people of color to feel seen.
Deepica Mutyala with the Live Tinted Hue Stick.
Robert: How did you turn Live Tinted from a community into a product?
Mutyala: From the beginning, we have asked our community provocative questions, learning, sharing and questioning cultural beauty standards, beauty industry inequities, and beauty concerns that relate to minorities that were not being addressed. From our community, we learned exactly what they wanted: make up that was simple and functional, customizable and personal – especially as they were each trying to use make up to solve their ‘own problem.’ This resonated deeply with me. Some of the biggest conditions people of color were reporting to us was hyper-pigmentation, dark spots and under eye circles. Out of this research, came our first product – the Huestick – a multi-stick (for lips, cheeks, eyes) that could also be used as color corrector for every shade in between.
Robert: What has been the reaction since Live Tinted has launched as a product? Any learning lessons?
Mutyala: It’s made me realize that the world is craving a more inclusive, kind, and genuine space in the beauty industry. We are a clean, vegan, cruelty free brand, but that to me is the baseline of what beauty brands should be in today’s society.. I see us as much more than that. This isn’t about being just another beauty brand – this is about fighting colorism. We are doing this through our story telling, our diverse group of POC investors and hires, and now through our product development. I don’t plan to stop. It’s time to show this industry that you can win by doing things the right way, by including every shade in between.
I’ve learned so many lessons along the way:
- You can do it all – you just can’t do it all at once. When you have such a big goal like ending, you have to recognize it’s not something that can happen overnight. We work hard everyday to take little steps towards this goal though and I think that’s what matters.
- Self care is crucial to your larger mission. It still feels selfish but without taking care of me, I can’t lead this company optimally. Because of that, I am trying to take more time for myself and be thoughtful about doing things that give me energy – whether that’s work related or not!
- Do things differently. Don’t listen to the noise, and stay true to your core. What I mean by that is I’ve heard over and over again that the beauty space is cluttered. There isn’t room for another brand. The reality is, if you have a clear distinct mission in mind, one that you fiercely believe in and will stand by through anything, you can make a difference in the world.
- Purpose driven > financially driven. Today, everyone wants to be the next unicorn, billion dollar brand but in my eyes, I define success on impacting a billion+ lives. I make smart business decisions, of course – but my north star fighting colorism. The way I intend to do this is by building Live Tinted, a community-first beauty brand focused on every shade in between, and empowering that community to lead this movement and #livetinted.
Robert: What’s next for Live Tinted?
Mutyala: I can’t give too much away, so I’ll simply say this. We are working SUPER hard behind the scenes to strive for diversity, inclusivity and representation, deliver more impactful content, spark more provocative dialogue, continue to shake up beauty standards and this space, and develop smart and multi-functional products that are catered to EVERY shades in between. Watch this space – it’s going to be an exciting, innovative, and hopefully a change-inspiring one.