New York Gossip: Lindsey Calla, Saucy Glossie
Meeting Poppy King was like a day out of The City. We fixed to meet up at CafÃ© Gitane, a cute and quaint cafÃ© on Mott Street, NYC. I got there a few minutes early to see Sienna Miller sitting outside smoking and an ex-editor from Marie Claire inside plotting her next recession/post magazine layoff move. And for me, meeting Poppy was like life coming full circle. I spent most of my time in Oz on the North side of Bondi beach reading her book and trying to figure out how to make my ideas come to life. So when I sat down with her over chopped salads and tea in NY, I was excited to know everything about her.
Do you think there is a difference between how Aussie girls and American girls wear your lipstick?
PK: There is a difference in terms of taste. Aussie women are less conservative than Americans (outside of NY and LA). They (Aussie girls) are more adventurous in color. But there is a similarity in the girl. They have a certain independent spirit. They are not looking for the same old cookie cutter approach to beauty. They are looking for a unique perspective.
I found that Aussie girls are more confident and really motivated to start businesses, live abroad etc.
PK: If you\’re Australian and your adventurous, you really have to be adventurous, because it takes a lot more to overcome the distance. The landscape is quite rugged and that makes you be tougher and take on the challenges. Also, it is a very sport oriented country and sport is all about risk and result.
I noticed how active people were! Always outside exercising or taking in the beauty. Here in the US, we get so involved in watching everyone else on TV that it doesn\’t spur creativity.
PK: In Aus, you learn how to entertain yourself. It\’s very conducive because not everything makes it over there so you really have to look for those opportunities. Australia is amazing. I go home to do events for Lipstick Queen, but only twice a year.
Switching gears slightly&Do you like cupcakes?
PK: Who doesn\’t like cupcakes! But I think Aussie cupcakes are so much nicer than American cupcakes. In Oz, they are much smaller. They look fantastic in America and if you have one bite they are great, but I can\’t stop at one bite and it gets sort of sickening after that! If I had more self-control I\’d be fine. Did you have a Lamington in Australia? NO! I never had one.. I feel sort of feel like I should have as a right of passage or something!
PK: One of the things I love in America is a muffin. I LOVE muffins. I would go for a muffin over a cupcake. They are like cupcakes without the icing. I love the fact that just because it is called muffin and not “cake” that it means you can eat it for breakfast. Muffins and ice cream are my things. I live opposite Ciao Bella! Although, I found this place called Baked by Melissa for cupcakes. We are having the minis at our blogger event! What a great way of showing you don\’t have to re-invent the wheel. It\’s about finding the niche. (*Baked by Melissa is a tiny cupcake window in Soho that sells delicious mini cupcakes that aren\’t loaded with butter cream).
You are sporting a really cute vintage bag! What are some of your favorite vintage places in NY?
PK: I love Edith Machinist on Rivington Street. That\’s probably my favorite. I love vintage. Not everyone has the taste for it. Some people see it as second hand, where I see it as vintage. There is a fabulous store called Lyell and I get half my wardrobe there. It is just around the corner on Elizabeth Street.
You mentioned that you love being by the Sea. Have you found a beach sanctuary here in the US?
PK: I have a summer share in Fire Island. Not in the party part but the area that is very quiet and the beach part there is so raw that it reminds me of Australia.
When you started Poppy , the 80\’s makeup revolution left a gap in market for lipsticks with pigment. We are seeing a lot of 80\’s revival recently. Do you want to follow that trend now and incorporate it into your collections?
PK: Luckily with the 80s revival, its been much more about the fashion than the makeup. What I do like about it is that it has cherry picked some of the brighter lip color, but it is being shown not to wear it with tons of other make up. I have incorporated some neon\’s, but they are very sheer. My whole approach to them is not to wear them in an 80\’s way, but to wear them with minimal make up. Well there is a 40\’s revival too!
PK: Yes, well a lot of the 80s shapes were inspired by the 40s shapes. The exaggerated shape, nipped in waist etc.
Do you follow trends?
PK: I tend to I look at what I feel is missing in the lip color vernacular and I tend to follow what I think needs a fresh look at. I take my inspiration much more from art and culture. But not in a snobby way, but in a way that\’s fun and girlie. When you first started playing around, did you have a strong knowledge of the science behind creating cosmetics?
PK: It was more trial and error. I had knowledge of what I felt was missing. Anytime I felt a bit overwhelmed about the language, I always came back to what was missing. I kept using simple language like “I want it to be like this crayon” etc. You pick up the language when you communicate with the factories and vendors.
Do you feel the timing when you launched Poppy was important to its success?
PK: When I first launched Poppy, it was very early on before MAC and Bobbi Brown were very well known. If I had known how big MAC would get, I may not have done it and said oh someone else is already doing it. I was far away enough to not let it influence me and I had my own voice. That is a great tip for entrepreneurs. Not to let outside forces or competition influence you in your idea..
PK: You have to put your own voice and stamp on it. And be able to communicate through your product what\’s different about it rather than worrying about what other people are doing.
People say a recession is a great time to start a business!
PK: My first business started in midst of recession. What happens is factories that normally have so many orders to fill can\’t be bothered with smaller players, but now they become more interested in taking on more business regardless of size. It makes them more open to smaller players and more flexible.
How did you regain confidence after your first biz, Poppy, liquidated?
PK: Through understanding that learning to value the experience rather than the results is important. Not that I\’m not results oriented, but I let the results take care of themselves and I put more into the experience day by day. With the ups and downs of my first business, I was able to put more emphasis on experience and that helped me bounce back.
Is there a big difference between Poppy and Lipstick Queen? In terms of business execution and esthetic?
PK: When I came to start Lipstick Queen It was like when I started Poppy: no money and had to find a biz partner, etc. I did the same thing, but with a lot more wisdom. They both had a similar process, but the spirit that drives it of like focusing on the lips and doing It in a way that is intelligent and fun, not based on any ideal of beauty, but based on graphics and color is exactly the same. The execution is a little different. My taste is different these days. Poppy was more Chinoiserie and Asian. Now it is not as much. But there are more similarities and differences. The difficulty with Lipstick Queen was that it was hard to try to do something again that you have already done.
I love the show Shark Tank! Have you seen it?
PK:Yes, it\’s based on Dragon\’s Den right? It\’s good to see that it\’s not about the people who have the most professional presentation but have the passion and can identify the opportunity. My book is that way too. Reading about someone who\’s done it and passing the info in a relatable way is like sitting down and chatting with me in a way.
Yes, I took more from your book than reading something with all technical terms in it! Do you plan to go back to OZ?
PK:I feel that Australia is my home and I feel that I am an Australian first and foremost and no matter how long I\’ve been away it doesn\’t make me less Australian. It has shaped who I am. In terms of the way in which I m setting my life up, my business is in America. I employ Americans and my actions are building a life in America and I can\’t see how that will change. I am setting down foundations. But doesn\’t make me any less Australian!
LC: I encourage everyone to pick up Poppy\’s book: Lessons of a Lipstick Queen.
Some quick fun and girlie questions:
Your five favourite things you can’t live without:
- Petting a dog- I don\’t have a dog but I can\’t go a week without petting somebody\’s
- The Sea- even though I\’m really not a tanner, I need to be near the sea at least once a year
Your most fun girlie thing you like to do: is wear lipstick! It is the guiding force of my adult life.
Who would you like to have at a dinner party? My friends, Michelle Obama, Dorothy Parker, Amelia Earhart, Catherine Graham (wash post), Martin Luther King, Chloe Sevigny.
Poppy is also launching her new collection based on Andy Warhol\’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame Pop Art Gloss! It hasn’t arrived in Australia yet but we are giving you a sneak peak. W00t!!