Last night I had the honor of speaking with Crystal Carmen, founder of Pink Stiletto Cosmetics. Hailing from Queens and now residing in Philly, this woman is seriously the stuff dreams are made of: she is an integral part of the plus size fashion scene along the eastern seaboard and an innovative entrepreneur, while still remaining kind, approachable and an absolute babe.
WYV: Crystal, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you originally get into cosmetics?
CC: I am originally from New York City – Queens. Love that place! My interest was piqued by receiving a gift of Iman Cosmetics from my dad and the book Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin from my mom. My grandmother was the neighborhood Avon lady. I remember her always made up with her hair elegantly coiffed. I would play in the unclaimed orders and mush lipsticks together. I would pretend to be fancy like her. She would complain to my parents that I was using up her Clinique makeup. My dad provided his solution by buying me a large amount of Iman cosmetics. My specialty is Organic Makeup Application and Submersible Waterproof Makeup Application.
WYV: What do you love most about the Philly market?
CC: Women care about colors and are willing to try something new, even if it’s just once. Love it!
WYV: What has been one of the more discouraging experiences for you in the beauty industry?
CC: You know what’s interesting is that a long time ago, I got an email from “Contact Us” on our website. She was so mean! It was about me being fat and in the beauty business. I almost took her statements seriously. I am just so glad that I brushed it off. What I do is so fun and rewarding!
WYV: What an idiot. Those with thin privilege have been building careers off the backs of fat, queer, and POC for as long as beauty has been a business.
CC: You don’t have to tell me about it. The contouring technique though used for correction was truly used more often by the transgender community and drag performers. It was then sensationalized and marketed to the point of nausea and now it’s going out.
WYV: I don’t know a performer that doesn’t use contouring in some way.
CC: Seriously. I was such a drag hag in NY. Even in Bethlehem, I was invited to walk as “Real” because how I did my makeup and dressed up. It was so much fun. I learned how to improvise my glamour from them. I recall these gorgeous rhinestones boots. I was in awe! They were hand applied to Payless boots – Gorgeous!
WYV: Tell us about the fashion show that you are doing.
CC: The Fashion show in October is to begin bringing plus women into the luxury market. You never see a plus woman in a perfume ad, car ad – any ad really that is not about mopping, cooking, cleaning or panties. If I am the norm, why am I not what I see? It’s terrible.
WYV: I totally agree.
CC:Iheartradio gave us a chance to talk and we intend to use it the best we can. We hope this media coverage and this show make our point. We are planning our next topics to see when we can go on again. It will air likely this weekend on 106.1 the Mixx, Q102 and 104.5 (in the Philly and NYC areas).
WYV: Tell us about the fashion show.
CC: The name of the show is Pink The Runway. It will be used as a springboard for change. We have celebrity designers lined up, to of which have never designed for plus. One was featured in Harper’s Bazaar. The gowns for my partner and I will be the first plus size gowns that she makes. That is a big step!
WYV: What is the biggest hurdle that you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
CC: My biggest hurdle has been getting the world to see the difference without being able to physically show them. Trying to get over that hump where you are getting popular enough for businesses to request huge wholesale amounts but you are too small to fill them. I’m am currently working on the steps necessary to be able to produce at that level.
WYV: What product are you most proud of?
CC: Of my own brand.. It’s has to be LiquidAura Glow Cream. It’s an illuminator, it’s a bronzer, it’s a foundation booster. I adore the new shade Empress.
WYV: Any beauty secrets for us?
CC: Be sure to use eyeshadow primer on your brows before filling them in. This gives the same staying power that it provides your eyeshadow and helps prevent smudged brows. Apply sparingly, though!
WYV: What do you wish you could change or feel is lacking in the beauty industry?
CC: Overnight makeup artist. I totally get if you love makeup, practice a bit and start perfecting your craft, but two Youtube videos does not a makeup artist make. What’s lacking? Originality, freshness. Everyone now look like the same highlight contoured version of someone else.
WYV: Top three style icons. Go!
CC: Kerry Washington’s Character Olivia on Scandal. I am so serious, perfection. Zendaya – she’s feminine and slightly daring. And then Sam Fine. He’s makeup but his makeup style is everything.
WYV: Tell us a bit about your personal style.
CC: My style can be described as Bold, Modern, Bright, Edgy. I believe fashion should shock, make-up should push the envelope and hair should take chances. I am drawn to new fabrics, unique silhouettes, metallics and strong colors. I am spontaneous, creative and always responsive to whatever is new. Trends are not my thing; I am fashionable, but only in the most out-there way. Style for me is about challenging people and their notions of how things ought to be. Get Dolled is my fashion and makeup motto. This is actually a directive. For decades women have been told to avoid flashy clothing and makeup because it would make you look like a clown or age you. I aspire to help people break that antiquated concept.
As a thank you, Crystal Carmen has given all Wear Your Voice readers 20% off ALL Pink Stiletto cosmetics when you enter the promo code WEARYOURVOICE at checkout! Remember to tag your selfies in Pink Stiletto goodies with #wearyourvoice AND #pinkstiletto!