I feel it only fair to start this article by warning you that I’m a makeup person. Seriously, Sephora is my Cheers – it’s where everybody knows my name. So when the opportunity arose to interview someone who has so seamlessly combined my two great loves, makeup and geekery, I definitely jumped.
At Comic Con this year, I had the honor of sitting down to a one-on-one conversation with the utterly fantastic CEO and Glitter Jedi of Espionage Cosmetics, Jaimie Cordero. If you’re not up on geek girl news, Espionage Cosmetics is a woman-owned nerd makeup company carrying fandom-based shadows, lip serums, and nail wraps. Last year’s Kickstarter to introduce the Nailed It! line of wraps raised over three times its funding goal, adding new wrap designs with every stretch goal met.
Jaimie, with SDCC-appropriate sparkly “Nintendo” hair clip and multicolored brows, took the time to tell me all about the product, her geek girl customer base, and what’s coming up for the company.
Why geek makeup?
Geek makeup… honestly, why not? First of all, I’m a professional makeup artist, but I’m also a big nerd, so why not put the two things together that I love? But just in general, for the culture, guys have a lot of things. There are no things for girls, unless it’s t-shirts, and there are only so many t-shirts I can wear at one time, let’s be honest. I wanted to start making something that is relevant to something I care about.
I like that we’re setting ourselves apart by not just focusing on the beauty aspect. We’re also focusing on the community aspect. Us nerds, as I’m sure you are very well aware, like to obsess over things. We like to know every nook and cranny of the universe we are in love with, that our heart is in, and I think something that people connect with, with our brand, is that we’re not just slapping a name on something. We’re genuinely invested in every property that we touch and that we now have the honor of licensing with. Going to those places and seeing the creators and meeting the brilliant people that created the things that we love, that’s a really cool thing for us.
I noticed that your pigments are pretty intense, there are some pretty vibrant colors in there. Is there a “day look?”
Absolutely. I’m a big believer in the fact that it’s more how you wear it than the color that you’re wearing. Our entire group, we do not wear makeup every day. I wore makeup, the last time before I came here, nine days ago. I’ve got things to do, and it’s not putting eyelashes and eyeliner on, and that needs to be okay. You shouldn’t be “no makeup” or “makeup all the time.” You can be just a recreational user. That is okay in makeup, and that’s what we are. So there absolutely is a day look, but obviously with brighter colors and glitters. That gets people’s attention. That pulls them to the rest of the stuff that might not be so flashy.
What separates your product from the geeky lines on Etsy or the MAC one-offs, for example?
What separates us is that this is all we think about. A lot of people have done amazing things on Etsy that have transformed their entire life and created really big businesses, but sometimes it is just a hobby level. With MAC, I think that they’re now paying attention to what we already know. They just have more resources to do it faster, and that’s the difference. But I know that I would pit my team against anybody else’s team any day on the passion side of things. We care so hard about this, and I think that that is what makes people gravitate towards us, because we aren’t the biggest. We aren’t the most polished. But we are the loudest, and we are the most passionate about what we do.
Tell me about being a woman-owned company. I mean that’s pretty huge.
It’s really awesome, because I get to tell my nieces, I get to express to them how important it is to be independent, to be self-reliant, and do what you love by my actions, and not just telling them all those things. They’re going to do what they see me doing. That’s what they’re going to repeat in their actions, and so that’s very exciting to me.
Also just to shout out to my partner [Co-founder Sandra Stewart]. She doesn’t have a lot of hands in the company, but that’s because she’s a full-time United States Marine. She just got a promotion to gunnery sergeant, so she’s terrifying and awesome, all at the same time. I came up with a really ridiculous idea, and she actually stepped in at the last moment and was like “yeah, let’s do it!” She has been one of the biggest blessings, because she doesn’t step in and question my judgment. She just is very in tune and very supportive, and she is a lot of the reason that we’ve gotten to the place we have, because she lets people do what they’re good at, which informs how I deal with the people that work for us now. I let them do what they’re good at and what they love.
There’s been a lot of controversy in the fandom about the concept of the “fake geek girl,”
Oh, that’s precious.
What is your opinion of that?
My opinion is, “What is so weird about somebody liking something that is made to be fun, that is made to be entertaining, that is made to pull you in or take your brain to a different place and take it out of the real world? Why is it so weird that we like that?”
The fact that I get nerd-carded constantly because of how I look or what genitalia I have or any of that is a little bit silly. I saw the best meme in the world. I’m sure you’ve seen the meme. Everyone has been terrible to that poor little girl who has the nerd glasses on, she’s got “nerd” written on her hand. It had that picture, and at the top it says “Nerd girl hasn’t read all 1100 issues of Batman,” and at the bottom it says, “Neither have you.” Because you can’t be a nerd in everything. Everyone has their nerd things. My nerd things are video games and movies, like old movies, and Conan and Predator. Those are weird nerd things to some people, but I know every single thing about those particular things. I shouldn’t get nerd-carded because I don’t know everything about Batman. That doesn’t mean I can’t passingly enjoy Batman, because I think the Dark Knight is badass, but that doesn’t mean that I’m faking it. I don’t need attention. I just like playing video games, and that’s just what it comes down to.
You’ve got a new Kickstarter coming up. What else is coming up for the company?
So the Kickstarter, I’m excessively excited about. This is Part 2 of what we started the line with. Part 2, we’re titling it “But Wait, There’s MOAR…” We’re adding three new elements to the line. We’re adding holographic print, neon print, and heat-reactive. We’re adding an additional 25 designs to the line. But the best part is, because of how big the company has gotten as far as people wanting to help and people wanting to contribute because they can feel our passion, a lot of nerd celebrities are coming in to curate nails with us.
We got another 12 licenses that are going to launch with the Kickstarter. They’re in different genres, because again, you can’t be a nerd in everything. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to provide something for everybody.
I’m sure you’ve seen our nebula nail wraps. For the people that don’t know, they have existing nebulae in the universe. Rather than just “pretty for pretty’s sake,” it’s “pretty for science’s sake,” as we like to say. Bobek Ferdowsi, who was the NASA scientist who had the mohawk – the Mars landing scientist that everyone freaked out over. He is actually curating the next set of nebula nail wraps. So he’s a space nerd, and he gets to share that with people. He’s going to be writing the bio on the inside and all that stuff.
We just have so, so many properties coming in to work with us and so many people that we’ve had the honor to meet and that are on our level of excited about the fact that geek girls need stuff and it’s not just t-shirts and figurines. It’s very motivating to see that. It is a crazy idea, and it’s becoming very well accepted, and so many amazing people are behind it. All of that is just a very small amount of what’s happening, so I’m very excited about that.
The Nailed It! Lvl 2 Kickstarter launches on September 4th, 2014. (And those Sherlock nail wraps on the Espionage Facebook page will be mine…)
In the meantime, check out Espionage Cosmetics at http://espionagecosmetics.com/!
Photo Credit: Espionage Cosmetics’ Instagram