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Never Make Eye Contact: how I built a beauty brand on my commute

Posted by Stephanie Effiom on
Never Make Eye Contact: how I built a beauty brand on my commute

This goes out to everyone who's ever caught the 07:08 Northern Line train going Southbound from Brent Cross. I'm sorry if you were ever unnerved by my behaviour. If it's any consolation, it was for the greater good...


I started myGloww by accident. I had just missed the flight for my honeymoon so I was at home feeling miserable. I decided to use some of our wedding vouchers to make myself feel better. 


I was living in London at the time. I used the tube to commute to my day-and-sometimes-night job (more on that later). Over time, I learnt that 'never make eye contact' is the unspoken rule most Londoners agree to abide by to safeguard against unnecessary social interaction.

Being in one of the world's most diverse cities, I found that a good way to pass time on my commute was to stare at people and guess their heritage. This had to be done within one-and-three-quarter seconds - any longer, and they'd sense they were being stared at, we'd make eye contact, and then be forced to feign sudden interest in nasal spray ads until either of us got off the train.

As an artist, I've always had an appetite for colour. I was fascinated by the beautiful interplay of colours in human skin tone. I spent the next couple of years* studying human skin pigmentation and discovered the three essential elements of each person's unique skin tone.


My makeup experiments continued I studied my own complexion axes and created a foundation in my perfect shade. I. felt. great.

myGloww founder steph smiling in her bathroom wearing foundation

That's me beaming when my perfect foundation shade still matched my skin tone under harsh bathroom lighting. I wore a large shirt since it was the closest thing I had to a lab coat!

I knew I had to share it. I wanted to create make-up for others that harnessed the delicately unique balance of colour in complexion. I wanted to create a foundation range with real colours from real people with enough shades for everybody to find their match.

After a very unhealthy period of work-life imbalance, I finally completed a range of 360 shades. Yep. Three-hundred-and-sixty foundation shades.

pots of hundreds of foundation shades for multiple skin tones

To my dismay, it wasn't long before I realised that 360 shades simply wasn't enough for everybody to find their match. Despite having well over 10 times more shades than most foundation ranges, there were still gaps that meant that some people would be left out.

This was a problem because I know first-hand how utterly deflating it can be to walk past a beauty counter and not see a single product to suit your skin tone. for years, this fuelled a negative voice that insidiously ate at my self-worth. There was absolutely no way I was going to give that negative voice a platform in myGloww by having a shade range that didn't cater to everybody. 


Like most other problems, the answer to mine lay within the problem itself. I realised that, however you look at it, creating a range of complexion shades is an attempt to standardise individuality. The colourful interplay of a person's complexion is so infinitely detailed that an off-the-shelf solution could never do justice to it. The perfect shade i had made for myself those months ago was perfect because I made it specifically for me.

I knew in that moment that custom formulation was the only way to guarantee a uniquely uplifting make-up experience for everybody. So I got to work developing a technology that studies your skin and formulate custom make-up in colours perfect for your skin tone. Everything about myGloww is designed to elevate your wellbeing and make you feel incredible. Its purpose is to transform your beauty routine into a sublime self-affirming experience.  It's more than custom make-up. It is the beginning of a beautiful journey of self love.

*Btw, I didn't spend two years on the tube. I went home and stuff.

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