Notorious Women #7 – Ukrainian beauty tycoon Natalia Iaromenko
October 11, 2022
Notorious Women is a series of interviews with women who positively impact the world through their work, projects and ideas. Ukrainian beauty tycoon Natalia Iaromenko, founder of the label LAMEL, tell us about her journey of creating a new brand, growing internationally and facing the challenge of the war in her country.
But first, let’s look back at our latest conversations with pioneering women who show outstanding leadership skills.
We started the series with the artist Sabine Wiedenhofer, one of the most important Austrian artists on the contemporary market. Then we were lucky enough to interview Lilli Hollein, organizer of the gigantic Vienna Design Week and now the new director of the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. Next, we talked to Monika Kircher about her engagement in supporting art and contemporary artists. Then, the photographer Yvonne Oswald tells us about her creative process and the massive success of The Südbahn Hotel project. Next, Marianne Kohn is an Austrian institution working in the most renowned Viennese clubs and fashion scene. Finally, stylist and vintage lover Judith Bradl shows us a fun, unique style based on a mix of vintage and modern and how a woman can be fashionable without being a Kardashian.
Now enjoy our chat with Ukrainian beauty tycoon Natalia Iaromenko who founded the makeup label LAMEL in 2012.
1. Natalia, LAMEL started in 2012. Since then, you have been present in 5500 retailers around Europe and are ready to enter the American market. And in this process of overwhelming success, what remains of the young Natalia, born in a small military town in Ukraine?
Yes, indeed, a beauty brand LAMEL has achieved great results over the years. Currently, the beauty brand LAMEL is a multimillion company; the brand is represented in almost 30 countries worldwide. Every month we make more than 300 thousand girls and young people who love cosmetics happier and most self-confident with our products. It is real happiness for me when I watch many video reviews and hear nice words about my brand’s products in different languages, such as French, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Spanish and others. This motivates me to keep going! I remember how it all started when there was no big company yet, and I delivered the first orders to stores on my own. The main thing I had then and still have is the belief that everything is possible in this world. That most of our limitations are in our heads, and I’ve always been a woman who isn’t afraid to dream. This has become a key factor in my success.
2. When you started your business, who was the person who helped you the most and what was your big financial opportunity to achieve your plans?
It is challenging for a novice entrepreneur to attract credit resources. I understand now that it was the right move, but it was very risky at the time. I mortgaged everything that I had, an apartment, my home. I was able to place the first order for a large batch of cosmetics on my own brand under the pledge of my property. I believed in my dream, so I took a risk.
3. You were pregnant in two different moments of business expansion and growth. And you have repeatedly stated that there is a parallel between a new life and new strength in business. What would you say to so many women who live the daily challenge of maintaining a balance between family life and career?
Yes, it doesn’t sound very logical, but it’s true. I signed my first serious contract when I was eight months pregnant with my daughter. And now, having given birth to my son in January, I am bringing the brand to a new American market for us. I believe that children are a great gift of fate, and when a new life is born inside you, then a new life is created around you in all your manifestations. My brand and my business are my other baby, and that’s probably why these things are so connected in my life. At such moments, I feel a lot of energy and creative ideas, and I expect great achievements in all the projects I have planned. Today, I think many women are delaying and even afraid to give birth to a child, believing it is an obstacle to their career, business, or self-realization. And I would like to use my example to deny all these fears and apprehensions because it always seems that it isn’t a time or that you aren’t ready to become parents, but the truth is that there will never be a good time. But when a new life already lives in you, the circumstances are such that you must have time to realize yourself in all senses of life. Therefore, I want to use my example to convince everyone that has such a dream they should not be frightened. A woman needs to enjoy the pregnancy process as much as possible and the process of self-realization in various areas. One doesn’t interfere with the other at all.
4. We can have everything, as your t-shirt says, or can we choose to have whatever is better for us? Not every woman wants to be a mother, wife and CEO. Many women want to be just mothers, for example. So why does society today discriminate against this choice?
Good question. It seems to me that society today supports the possibility of various choices more than ever. I believe that the most important thing for a person of any gender is their realization of this world. It is necessary to realize the inherent talents as much as possible. If you have the talent to manage a business or a large company, then why not. If you have the skill and inner desire to raise children, arranging comfort in the house – is also a realization. Moreover, I admire such women because it seems to me that this is one of the most challenging spheres of activity in terms of energy costs. Therefore, many women combine family arrangements and implementation in other areas, probably because being a mother is a great and difficult job.
5. When is makeup a tool for empowerment, and when does it become a way to mask a problem of self-esteem?
I would say that self-esteem is always an obstacle to realizing opportunities. Before starting my own business, I worked as an employee and was so insecure that I worked for free for almost a year. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be paid for the job, so I was just happy that I was getting experience. Fortunately, it was during my student years. But then I heard many times from girls going out without makeup is the same as going out naked. This was the impetus for creating my own cosmetics brand. Which would have cool, high-quality, and necessarily inexpensive products. So that as many girls and boys as possible feel more confident and begin to set big goals for themselves and achieve more. Therefore, I think that these are different stages. At first, makeup can help you feel more confident, and then makeup becomes a tool for self-expression and an opportunity for creative self-realization.
6. What makeup trends for Fall Winter 22-23 that LAMEL is betting on?
- Gradient lip glosses with brighter red in the centre and darker on the outside.
- “Healthy Look” – glowy skin, glossy, bold lips and natural blush.
- Blush contouring or Sunkissed Blush. Blush is still going strong as a makeup trend for autumn/winter 2022. Instead, you could use a bright-pink lipstick or cream blush under your foundation.
- Blue Eye Makeup. Blue eye shadow is back; lately, we’ve seen this look everywhere.
- Black Graphic Liner With Bright Accents. It’s a rather editorial look than wearable, which is why, season after season, makeup artists keep designing it.
- Bleached Brows. It’s a trend on the runways, although we’re not so sure about real life.
- Metallic Blurred and Glossy Lids. The frosty finish and soft ethereal makeup for fall is see-through, smudged washes of metallic eye shadow.
- Lipstick Accents. After years of forgoing lipstick, it’s finally time for your brightest lips. It’s back time to traditional lipsticks this winter.
7. I tried several LAMEL products, and I liked them a lot. But if I have to pick my favourites, it would be the Crush Brow Mascara, cream BB Blush and the amazing All in One Lip Tinted Plumping Oil. In fact, my lips got moisturized, kept the colour for 5 hours, and only came off when I had lunch. So what is the secret of LAMEL’s success?
I am delighted that you liked our products. My cosmetic bag contains only our brand’s products, and I am happy with their quality. But, as I have already said, our main goal is to provide maximum quality, creativity, and trendy products for little money. And it is hard work to find high-quality textures to add vitamins, SPF filters, and a creative component to the product as much as possible while maintaining its affordability. But we have set such a goal, and therefore we are simultaneously negotiating with many factories producing components to find the most effective combination. And getting your feedback makes me realize that we can make cool products.
8. Natalia, to close our interview, I would like you to tell us about your last big challenge, which is the war in Ukraine. LAMEL warehouse was hit by a bomb, and you lost all your stock. Nevertheless, you continue with your plan to expand to America. Moreover, you have created a charitable and social project inspired by this tragic moment in your country’s history.
This is a harrowing topic. Since February 24, a full-scale war has been going on in our country. I lost a warehouse with products, but many families lost their homes and relatives. And we are sure that we will win this war because we are defending our land, home, and relatives. But it is very painful to see at what price it is given and how ridiculous what is happening now. Yes, despite the losses, we try to help as much as possible. All this time, we have been assisting various foundations supporting the war victims and our armed forces. Also, now we are finalizing the registration of our own charitable foundation. We allocated resources and funds from our company for it. After registration, we will try to send profits from each sale to support this fund and, of course, attract external benefactors. Because after our victory, many things will need to be restored in Ukraine, and the focus of our fund will be on helping children who have lost their parents or one of their parents. This is a big problem, and we want to be as helpful as possible. We want to give children who have lived through all these horrors the best education, development, and future life opportunities.
About Natalia Iaromenko’s beauty brand
LAMEL is a cruelty-free PETA brand, born in London in 2012, whilst most of its creative team is based in Ukraine. The core values of the brand are inclusivity, creativity, and the courage to act and express yourself. The cosmetics focus on the development and production of special makeup products for the face, lips, eyelashes, and eyebrows, as well as a face care line. The brand has been renowned for its bestselling highlighter for a long time and now continues to produce non-standard products that set new beauty trends.
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