The Lime Crime HQ in Woodland Hills is everything you would expect. It’s bright. The walls are various shades of pink and green. There are neon signs and glossy painted flowers on the walls.
The indie makeup line, known for its unconventional colors is the brainchild of Doe Deere, a figure who is known perhaps for being equally as unconventional as her brand. Her hair, at the moment, is light purple. She’s in an a-line skirt with white knee socks and a jacket with flowers pinned to the lapels. In person, she's exactly what she portrays online. She is the brand, which is probably in part why it’s so successful. This is no act.
“Most people that meet me in real life always comment how much I look, sound, and feel the same as I come across on the Internet,” she says. “It’s a bit of a surprising reaction because why would you want to make yourself different?” This is a valid point, especially given the homogenized state of the beauty industry, because though she's in the business of beauty, what Doe are Lime Crime are offering is not a Facetuned version of beautiful.
She very honestly talks about being in high school, not feeling beautiful, and being a tomboy. “I felt very alone. I didn’t think that I could be beautiful. I gave up on myself until the day I discovered makeup,” she says, fully confident in her tenor. “I thought wow if this can make me feel this way, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could take this idea, amplify it and give girls and women more tools and colors to feel the same way about themselves?” And that’s how it started. That was the goal behind Lime Crime, a name that came during Doe's eBay selling days, because it was available, was her favorite color, and gave a sense of coloring outside the lines.
“What that means to me is that I am doing a good job of communicating myself and my brand on the Internet.” Good is a bit of an understatement. Lime Crime currently has over 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and has doubled their office space and team in the last year. Even in the face of more than a few scandals.
It’s no secret that Lime Crime is polarizing. There are sites dedicated to its demise. A “misguided hatred,” that originally stemmed from what Doe explains as a “quote attributed to her that she never said.” The company was also slapped with an FDA warning in July of this year regarding an ingredient in Velvetines, a vegan and cruelty free line of liquid matte lipstick stains, that is not approved for use in the United States. The FDA issue, which Lime Crime has always refuted as a labeling error, has been resolved entirely as of November, 2015. “We just got a closeout letter saying that the FDA received our lab results,” she says. “Confirming that it was a mislabeling issue. And we have labeled everything correctly.”
If Doe seems relatively unfazed by the allegations it’s because she’s confident about what she is building with Lime Crime. In fact, regarding the controversy that’s surrounded the brand she’s the exact opposite of reactionary and divisive. “Even though I am a target. I know I’m not the only one. It’s not unique to me or to Lime Crime. If you are putting yourself out there in a big way, you will always be criticized.”
Moreover she says, “I built this company brick by brick, from nothing. From my attic in Brooklyn. To me my customer is God. There is no way, not a chance that I would ever insult them. I love her. I’m obsessed with this girl. The one in my head I stay up at night working for. Everybody in my company is too.”
And working she is. Regarding their expansion she says, “Doubling the team means becoming double the leader.”
It's a team she talks about like family. “We challenge each other to bring positive-only energy to the office.” Noting that it is vital that they all, “connect with each other on a human level, and perform better as a unit.” She believes that this approach will help Lime Crime double their revenue again this year. What will also help is new product. “We’re doing hair dye. That’s finally happening.” She’s been dying her hair forever and wanted a product that would fade gracefully and beautifully. She was incredibly involved in its development. It’s part of the reason she moved the company from New York to LA in the first place.
“I spent a lot of time doing development by mail and eventually was flying back and forth, but I’m really hands-on,” she explains. “I wanted to work in the lab and create the products with my own hands not just explain to a chemist what I want.” She also never wanted to dig her car out of the snow ever again.
Now she tests and develops every product— and lives in a climate where makeup looks great year round. “I walk into a lab, nine out of ten times I know exactly what pigments I want to use, exactly what the formula needs to be.”
When I ask her who she gets dressed for in the morning, she's says, “The future me. Somebody that I aspire to become. The better more evolved version of myself.” The colors may be unnatural, but this sentiment is not.
“I love being a woman and being in charge. My goal from the beginning was to cultivate a team of independent thinkers, male or female, who treat each other with respect and speak their mind openly and honestly.”
And now that she knows she has the right support and no longer feels alone, the future is bright. “I am ecstatic to bring out all the products I've been dreaming of all these years! 2016 is going to be our year -- watch out, world!”