If you're a beauty junkie, there's a pretty good chance you've had an encounter with a Naked Palette ($54). Each time a new palette is introduced, we find ourselves dumbfounded by Urban Decay's ability to curate 12 cohesive shades all in one sleek palette. And how about the company's cult-favorite Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer or its Revolution Lipsticks ($28)? There are so many incredible products in the UD line that we wanted to get to the bottom of how the brand got started. As such, we turned to Wende Zomnir, founding partner and chief creative officer of Urban Decay, to learn more about the brand's journey. Keep scrolling to read her answers!
BYRDIE: How did Urban Decay come to be?
WENDE ZOMNIR: The cosmetics department in the mid-'90s was a sea of pink, beige, and red. If you wanted color, you had to go to the drugstore, and back then, the quality of the lines with edgy colors was low. So we wanted to create high-quality cosmetics in innovative colors. It was a pretty simple concept, but I like to think it made the industry look at cosmetics colors differently.
BYRDIE: What is the inspiration behind UD?
WZ: Our mantra is, and always has been, "Beauty with an edge." We like to describe Urban Decay as feminine, a little dangerous, and a lot of fun—and that comes through in everything we do, from the products we create to the names we give them, to the way we design our packaging and the experience that we create in stores. As makeup junkies ourselves, we create products for makeup junkies. We're all incredibly passionate about what we do, and we're committed to developing only the best products.
BYRDIE: Did the team experience any obstacles along the journey to making Urban Decay a reality?
WZ: Prestige makeup was sold in department stores when we started, and that environment was a challenge back then. We didn’t have a dedicated sales team like the big traditional brands to help educate customers about Urban Decay. Once Sephora came on the scene, it really changed the game and leveled the playing field. It gave indie brands a home and a place to express their brand DNA.
BYRDIE: How did the name come about?
WZ: The way we came up with the name was when Sandy said, “It has to be Urban something…” Then someone thought of "Decay." And it really resonated, because not only was it a shocking name for a makeup brand, it was also catchy. It reflects our ideas about how beauty can be different, unexpected, and unusual, like finding inspiration in the iridescent rainbow sheen of an oil slick. People love that it’s a little bit high-spirited and doesn’t fit with other beauty industry notions.
BYRDIE: We're HUGE fans of the Naked palettes—it's so hard to pick a favorite. How did the team come up with it?
WZ: I asked my two key product development/beauty junkies which four eye shadows they would take to a desert island. I picked my shades, too, and when we threw them on the table, they actually made a beautiful palette. A couple were dupes, and one didn’t fit, so we tweaked the mix a bit, and there it was. A mix of neutrals in a variety of hues and finishes. It just seemed like the perfect palette to take to that desert island.
BYRDIE: What sets UD apart from every other brand?
WZ: I think UD has a clear point of view: high-quality cosmetics in innovative packaging and colors. Although we continually evolve the product and the imagery, we’ve always been true to the essence of what Urban Decay is: beauty with an edge.
BYRDIE: On a personal level, what motivates you when cultivating the brand?
WZ: I have this T-shirt that says “The best things in life make you sweaty.” I work out every day because I believe that when you’re healthy, anything is possible! I am a better wife, mother, and makeup junkie when my body is in a good place. Plus, I like to put new formulas I’m working on through my extreme sweat test. I’m also motivated by my team and how driven they are to make Urban Decay a success.
BYRDIE: What lies ahead for Urban Decay?
WZ: I would like to see Urban Decay have a much larger global presence and additional freestanding stores in top markets.
Whats your favorite Urban Decay product? Please tell us below!