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The Woman Behind Your Favorite Urban Decay Products Has Created Her Own Brand

WLDKAT

Courtesy of WLDKAT

 

The first luxury eyeshadow palette I ever purchased was in 2010, and it will forever be etched in my brain. It was the Urban Decay Naked Palette (the first of what has now become one of the beauty industry's most sought-after collections), and it's what turned my makeup interest into a full-blown obsession. Fast forward to 2020, when the woman behind much of the OG palette's cheeky branding, silky smooth formulas, and memorable packaging has come out with a brand of her own. But contrary to what we'd expect, it's not a makeup line. "With the focus on health, well-being, and self-love, it seemed like skincare was the right fit for me," says Amy Zunzunegui, CEO and founder of WLDKAT, a vegan skincare line built on practices of sustainability, clean formulas, and inclusivity. Recently, I had the opportunity to dig a little deeper to find out what it was like for Zunzunegui to leave her career of 20 years to develop something of her own. Below, find out everything you need to know about WLDKAT, straight from the fearless brand owner herself.

On her role at Urban Decay...

Beyond giving some credit to this woman for my current relationship with makeup, the work she's done in her two decade-long career is impressive to say the least. Before going to work for Urban Decay, Zunzunegui was working at a small-sized company and craving a more creative environment. Like anyone with a forward-thinking mindset, she rummaged through her clothes, makeup, and shoes to see if any of the brands she loved happened to be based in Orange County. Two weeks and a faxed resume later (the year was 1999, after all), she was part of the Urban Decay team.

"Product development at Urban Decay was an all-encompassing job that included everything from concept of a product, all the way through manufacturing and delivery to the warehouse," says Zunzunegui. "I was also involved in formula, packaging, artwork direction, regulatory, legal, production, and costing—needless to say, I learned a lot! Being a part of the team that brought to life products like the Eyeshadow Primer Potion, Naked Palette, 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils, and Alice in Wonderland Palettes was a complete dream." She explains that looking back, it still doesn't seem real that she played such an integral role in creating the industry's cult-favorites. "By the time the product launches, you move on to the next set of products. I don’t know that I ever really stopped to think about it."

On the pillars of WLDKAT...

With a "less obsession, more self-worship" motto, WLDKAT promotes the use of skincare products that work with you, versus the other way around. "Our formulas are clean, vegan, and cruelty-free," she says. "We love staple skincare ingredients like vitamins A and E and hyaluronic acid, old-but-new-again ingredients like patchouli, and then more of the new skincare wonders like CBD," she says. "CBD is known to be calming and soothing to the skin, so it's perfect as part of your skincare regime."

And for the line's packaging, it's all about sustainability. "We make fun packaging with lots of personality, but without any of the bells and whistles," she notes. "This means no extra treatments (the boxes will scuff since they are 100% post-consumer recycled and don’t have any coating), stock components (so that we're not spending resources on tooling), and as much manufacturing in the U.S. as possible (to limit our carbon footprint)."

On how WLDKAT is different from other CBD skincare brands...

"We really wanted to create a skincare line heavily based and inspired by CBD," says Zunzunegui. "What's different, though, is that instead of using isolate—which is, in theory, a more pure form of CBD—we only use broad-spectrum CBD." She explains that isolate can be stripped down of the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, and that using broad-spectrum CBD ensures less processing and more use of the whole plant. "The more of the plant you can use, the more it works with your skin—think of it like fresh-pressed juice versus a processed concentrate," she says.

On why she chose skincare over makeup...

"I did my time in makeup and it was the most amazing ride, but after 20 years, I needed a new challenge," says Zunzunegui. "Launching skincare—especially skincare with CBD that is clean, vegan, sustainable, and has a big personality—was a huge challenge." In fact, Zunzunegui had no plan of launching a brand of her own to begin with. "I never thought in a million years that I would be starting a brand from scratch," she says. "It wasn’t something I wanted nor felt the need to do, but life throws curveballs at you and sometimes you have to swing."

On launching a brand during a pandemic...

"Our team is made up of people who thrive in a start-up environment, and because we are small, we are able to change direction on a dime," she says. "We were initially going to launch WLDKAT in March, but for reasons outside of COVID-19 we ended up moving the date to April 20, 2020"—so fitting. For WLDKAT, she notes that the biggest change was shifting the approach leading up to the brand's launch. "Part of our launch strategy was to throw an amazing party in New York with press, influencers, investors, consumers, and industry friends and family. But we decided to cancel those plans for the safety of everyone involved and shift those dollars towards more of a social media and content focus." She maintains that she and her team are "so passionate about WLDKAT and will do whatever it takes to make it work. When we get through all of this we will look back on it and realize that it added to the strength, story, and DNA of the brand."

On her favorites from the line...

"I can’t imagine picking a favorite child, but I have been really excited about the versatility of our Mushroom + Moss Gel Cream. It’s lightweight, super hydrating and doesn’t ruffle feathers. We launched with an easy, everyday moisturizer so no matter your skin type or routine, it wouldn’t weigh you down." Her pro tip? Mixing it with a small amount of foundation for a custom tinted moisturizer.

WLDKAT Mushroom + Moss Gel Cream
WLDKAT Mushroom + Moss Gel Cream $29
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