How Top Influencer Desi Perkins Turned Her Personal Brand Into A Skincare Line With Dezi Skin
Welcome to Desi Perkins’ world. A content creator, celebrity makeup artist and beauty vlogger who has built a highly engaged audience (with a social following of over 7.6 million followers combined across Instagram and YouTube), Perkins launched her own beauty line, aptly named Dezi Skin.
Dezi Skin is currently direct-to-consumer and it launched with its first product, a vitamin C serum called “Claro Que C.”
Perkins had already launched several makeup collabs and became a first-time founder with the launch of her brand of sunglasses, Dezi, last summer.
For Perkins, her previous experience of collabs and working closely with other businesses helped lead to self-funding her own skincare brand: “For a long time, I helped many brands build their businesses through promotion and endorsement on my social channels. I was fortunate enough to earn a living through that and slowly save until I had enough to build products of my own.”
And as a content creator who has built her own universe for the past 12 years (and counting!), it was key that the aesthetic her audience has come to know her for, would be reflected in the development of Dezi Skin at every touchpoint — from the on-point branding to the inclusive mission. The packaging is elevated, while still maintaining a price point that’s attainable, and the potion inside the bottle boasts the highest quality ingredients.
Perkins is balancing her role as Dezi Skin’s CEO with that of first-time mom to son, Ocean, who was born in October 2020.
I spoke with Perkins about the breakthrough moment that led her to launch Dezi Skin, why creating a skincare brand that celebrates diversity and her Latinx heritage was critical to her, and how she fuses her personal “Desi” touch into everything she does — because everything she touches turns to gold.
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Karin Eldor: Congratulations on the launch of Dezi Skin! What was the “aha” or breakthrough moment that led or compelled you to launch your own skincare brand?
Desi Perkins: It wasn’t necessarily one moment! Growing up in a Latina family, I was surrounded by cultural skincare tips from the time that I was very young. I loved learning about self-care and could see that beauty regimens were really meaningful to my family.
Later in life, as my makeup career started taking off and I was applying a full face every day, I realized that makeup application was so much easier when I was taking care of my skin. Everyone struggles with skin issues and one of my most popular videos was about how to cover blemishes in the most natural way. After I made that video, I slowly started showing solutions from both sides — the skin side and the makeup side. Instead of only showing how to cover blemishes, I started showing how to reduce them with a healthy skin regimen. It really resonated with my audience and I quickly realized that I was hooked on skincare and would someday create a line.
Eldor: Can you share a bit more about the development process? How long did it take you to conceptualize?
Perkins: The development process took years! It was important for me to find the best labs possible and approach the business from a global perspective. Meaning, I wanted to source ingredients from around the world and infuse them into the products at active levels, not just low marketing levels. In skincare, it is very common to add ingredients at very low percentages for the sole purpose of using them as a marketing tool.
We sourced antioxidant fruit extracts from Mexico and created a proprietary smoothie called the “Dezi Youth Juice.” We also sourced a potent form of Vitamin C from Japan. Having internationally diverse product formulations was important to me from the start and not as easy as it may sound! For me, that type of diversity is really important because it’s not just about showing diverse models in advertising — it’s about approaching diversity from all parts of the development process.
Eldor: What is your mantra?
Perkins: Create! That has always been my mantra. It’s tattooed on my wrist and I talk about it quite often. I think it’s really important to take time and seek out creativity and make it a ritual. Whether you’re building a makeup look, trying a new recipe, or even filming a TikTok, I believe it’s not only good for your mental health, but it’s also fun. And speaking of TikTok, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from that app, it’s that everyone can be a creator! When I was struggling to figure out what I wanted in life, I would always tell myself, As long as I am creating, I will be happy.
Eldor: I love that one of the missions of Dezi Skin is that you “embrace all skin types and specifically want to lift up people of color and female founders.” Tell me more! Can you elaborate on this?
Perkins: I have a lot to say about this, but I will try to keep it short! I believe that consumer brands have a huge impact on culture and people’s day-to-day lives. It’s incredibly important to give women and people of color opportunity and visibility in business because they will have a halo effect on society. They have the ability to truly impact their immediate teams, as well as consumers. In my mind, it’s similar to the food industry. If society didn’t allow restaurant owners to be diverse, you would never have varied dining experiences. Same thing with beauty. If you don’t invite minorities and women to the leadership table, you’re never going to experience those flavors.
Eldor: I heard you on Marianna Hewitt’s podcast (Life With Marianna) and I loved how you shared about your start in the service industry. Were there any lessons you learned from those early days, which have helped you grow as a female founder today?
Perkins: That job taught me how to handle any situation while encountering several different personality types, which I think is helpful for anyone trying to run their own company. It’s a tough job but one that teaches so much. I would be more inclined to hire anyone who has worked in the service industry for my company because I truly believe that.
Eldor: And congratulations on the launch of Dezi sunglasses too! Can you share what inspired you to launch that brand as well?
Perkins: I have always been passionate about fashion. I took design courses in college and knew it was something I always wanted to do. I collaborated with a brand on a line of sunglasses, and it became the most sold for the company. I had no idea what my selling power was going into it, because up until that point I hadn’t put my name on anything and the day we launched the site crashed.
Eldor: Everything about your different brands stems from the importance of transparency and authenticity, which you’ve always shared as a beauty influencer and YouTuber first. How did your personal brand help inform Dezi Skin?
Perkins: My personal brand has always been very style-driven and I think my audience has always appreciated that I show great style at any price point. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a strong aesthetic! I wanted to carry that into my formulas and packaging. Everything was highly customized and very expensive to make. I purposefully reduced my profit margins so I could give people a product that will not only change their skin, but also look like a piece of art on their vanity. It was my way of maintaining transparency and authenticity with my customers.
Eldor: You have built such a tremendous empire based on your brand and your world. It’s so impressive! Do you have any tips for aspiring content creators today, looking to do the same?
Perkins: I think the world is craving authenticity. If you want to be a successful creator, you should find what you are passionate about and speak to that. Don’t be afraid to not be ‘perfect’ because that’s not real. I wish someone would have told me that starting out. Once I found myself, my audience connected with me so much more. We are living in a time where anyone’s talents can be seen in one click of a button, so upload often and consistently.
Eldor: What else is coming up in your world, for your brand, for the rest of 2021?
Perkins: I am always dreaming of new ventures and creative avenues. If you ask my family and team, they’ll tell you that I never stop talking about what the Dezi empire could be. We have a lot of tentative plans, more than my small team can keep up with at the moment! Many people might not know this, but we have created these brands with only five people on each team for skin and eyewear, and three of the five on each team are me, my husband and my little brother. So right now I have to focus on expanding and building out our team, so I can support all these dreams.