Deepica Mutyala rose to fame after her YouTube video, “How To Cover Dark Circles” went viral. It showed Mutyala using red lipstick underneath her eyes to color correct her dark circles.
This was definitely something that her parents never imagined for their daughter. They are East Indian immigrants who wanted her to pursue proven, lucrative careers, like law or medicine.
But she was obsessed with makeup as far back as she could remember.
But back then, no one in the makeup community looked like her. Neither did the “cool kids” in her Sugarland, Texas school.
Mutyala said, “The people that you saw in the media, the ones you saw in schools who were considered the cool kids, that’s what I wanted to look like. That’s why I transformed myself. I avoided the sun at all costs. I wanted to be as fair skinned as possible.”
She even resorted to putting blonde streaks in her hair and wearing blue contacts to fit in.
After graduating from the University of Texas, she moved to New York to pursue a career in the beauty industry where she continued to see an underrepresentation of women of color. That’s what led her to film her, now famous, lipstick YouTube video.
She shot the video in a weekend on her iPhone and learned to edit it herself by watching YouTube videos.
That’s all it took.
It led to an appearance on TODAY. And she got invited back, frequently, as a beauty expert.
After continuing to make videos, and expanding her social media presence, she started getting brand deals, which put her in a financial position to be able to quit her corporate job.
While many aspiring entrepreneurs are scared to death to quit their day job, Mutyala had no such reservations.
She said, “I had no issues with taking risks then. I was fearless. I had this moment of 15 minutes of fame, that could just be a cool memory in my life. Or, I can spin it into a career. And I went for the latter.”
It wasn’t a traditional career path and she had some difficulty explaining her decision to her parents.
Mutyala said, “I was so embarrassed to call myself an influencer because I had my Dad in my ear, who wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. That was always the narrative. But being a businesswoman, I thought was acceptable. But to say that I’m a YouTuber, and that I make videos for a living, was just not a thing.”
Around this time, she started the Live Tinted Instagram account to encourage women of color to share their struggles and their makeup tips in a safe, inclusive space. She wanted to feature people of color who were underrepresented and to share their story.
She was then approached by a successful entrepreneur to help him launch another beauty brand that would focus on women of color.
He offered her 10% of the company that he was starting.
It was a tough decision to make. He was a successful entrepreneur who had built, grew and sold many successful companies.
She could have 10% of something that would probably succeed or do it herself, which would have a much more uncertain outcome.
There were many people who advised her to take the 10% and partner with the successful entrepreneur.
Mutyala remembered, “He wanted to give me 10% to be the face of his company. That motivated me to say, ‘I want to build this by myself.’ In the moment, I was like, ‘How dare you think that you can give me 10% of a business that I know.’”
So, she set out on her own.
Mutyala said, “It is sometimes scary to go out there and do it. But if you want it that badly and you feel that it is your purpose, which is exactly how I feel, you have to realize that it’s not going to come to you. So, if you have that conversation with yourself and say, ‘Why not me? Why not go do this? Why not do it right now?’ You just have to talk yourself into a mood of, ‘Just go. What’s the worst that can happen?’”
She continued “I was more excited about the community than actually launching the first product. We started as a community platform and built an audience. We were at 75,000 followers when we started to ask them, as a focus group, ‘What do you think is missing from the beauty industry?’ And we were also just doing simple things, like Instagram polls. I want to emphasize that. Because it wasn’t this intense study in room or anything. It was a collective of people who already felt connected because they hadn’t seen themselves (in the beauty community). We wanted to help them solve their biggest problems. And they told us their number one concern was hyperpigmentation and dark circles.”
It’s a genius strategy that surprisingly few companies do: Building a community first. Then, launching a product that solves a problem that they all share.
She said, “Since 2015, since I posted my first video, I’ve had thousands and thousands of comments saying that people want someone to solve their hyperpigmentation and dark circle issues. Now, it’s 2018 and I’m hearing the exact same thing. Clearly in three years no one has solved that issue. And I think that’s why my product worked. I genuinely cared about this problem. I made a video about it. I created a community for these people. I asked them, ‘What do you want this to be?’
Enter our first product, in May of 2018, called the Huestick, which works for eyes, cheeks and lips. But it also masks dark circles. And it’s now won the Allure’s “Best Beauty Award” three years in a row.”
The company has become wildly successful and has earned Mutyala numerous awards, including being named to Time’s 2022 list of Next Generation Leaders and also making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year.
While the awards, the success and the money are great, what really satisfies Mutyala is how she changed what it looks like to be cool.
She recently co-hosted a Diwali Hollywood party attended by A-list celebrities, including: Priyanka Chopra, Lilly Singh and Meena Harris.
Mutyala said, “It was really powerful. We raised our glasses and cheered to it and said, ‘To bigger tables in the future.’ And that to me was the validation that I needed to say, ‘We don’t need to be at your table, we built our own.’”